March 28, 2020

MY OPTIONS DURING ISOLATION – FAMILY LAW DISPUTES – COVID19

The COVID 19 pandemic has created several unique legal issues and challenges which demand innovative responses from individuals, companies, the legal profession and the legal system.

This is very much a “fluid” situation where anticipating what happens tomorrow is difficult.  In the short term, much has become static, but we are preparing for the long term. 

However, we are in the now.  Either previous disputes have continued, or new ones have arisen.  Access to services including the courts are limited.

Everyone is modifying their lives during this time, and there will be long lasting effects.  But what about those in the present with issues that need to be resolved?  Particularly those with family law issues and the increasing number of people that cannot afford any options?  While the courts will have to modify their approach in the current climate to ensure access to justice, so should the players in the legal field.

For those dealing with family law disputes (custody, parenting time, spousal support, child support or division of property or debt) there are options absent agreement between the disputing parties:

  • Urgent matters:  the courts will hear application regarding urgent matters.  What is urgent may depend although the court has issues practice directives advising of what it considers to be urgent.  The longer this pandemic lasts, the more the courts should, and likely will, adopt different procedures for people to access the legal system for more than just urgent matters.
  • Lawyers:  parties can hire a lawyer to advocate for them to either resolve the dispute without court intervention or if the matter is urgent, get it before the courts.  Lawyers can also represent parties at mediation or arbitration.  We continue to represent our clients and accept new clients.  For those that qualify, we adjust our rates on a sliding scale based on their case and their personal circumstances.*   Our firm continues its long standing “Initial Consultation by Donation” where, in exchange for an initial consultation, a donation to the food bank is requested.
  • Mediation:  parties can still mediate their dispute with the assistance of a mediator.  Our firm is set up to conduct mediations through video conferencing.  Our rates are affordable and for those that qualify, we adjust our rates based on a sliding scale and incomes of the parties*.  Typically, the parties equally share the cost of the mediator.
  • Arbitration:  parties can agree to arbitrate their dispute where they are heard by an agreed upon arbitrator who then makes a decision that is binding on the parties.  Arbitrators are offering their services through video conferencing.

What option to select really depends on the circumstances of the individuals and their case.

The world is in a difficult time and, now, more than ever, we must modify and accept new ways of resolving disputes.  But people are not without a remedy.  Our firm is here to help.

*contact us for more information on how to apply at [email protected] or click on our link “contact us” on our website.

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