CBA legal health check helps answer clients’ questions about separation and divorce

Posted by on Jan 27, 2015 in Blog | Comments Off on CBA legal health check helps answer clients’ questions about separation and divorce

CBA legal health check helps answer clients’ questions about separation and divorce

Marital breakdown can be an intensely emotional time, even when both partners remain civil. That makes it all the more difficult to navigate the legal minefield that goes hand-in-hand with breaking up – issues ranging from the equitable sharing of assets to who gets custody of the family pet.

We think your clients whose marriages are ending would find it helpful to have a checklist of issues to consider and steps to take – a simple guide to follow when their worlds are crashing down.

The CBA has developed a series of legal health check cards to help these people, and to let them know when they should seek professional legal assistance. Let us know if you’d like some hard copies of these cards – one with tips for protecting assets, another about protecting the kids – or simply download the PDFs.

Each card has a space at the bottom for you to put a stamp or a label, identifying you or an appropriate community resource as a contact for more information. Knowledge is power. The more certainty you can give people in uncertain times, the better they can focus on what they need to do to protect themselves and their interests.

Knowing that a lawyer is giving them an easy guide to the questions to ask, and is ready to offer additional help when needed, provides a welcome sense of security.

We hope this will help you and your clients! Thank you for doing your part to support Equal Justice.

Family mediation keeps divorce out of the courtroom

Posted by on Jan 4, 2015 in Blog | Comments Off on Family mediation keeps divorce out of the courtroom

Family mediation keeps divorce out of the courtroom

Family mediation is where yoga was 10 years ago, its practitioners say, and it’s not going to take a decade to catch up, given the desire to push divorce out of the courtroom.

The new Family Law Act that came into force in March 2013 with its emphasis on encouraging families to resolve their disputes without judicial intervention has driven more and more people into mediation.

In B.C. Supreme Court family disputes, one party can serve notice on another, forcing mediation.

And, with increased funding from the Justice Ministry, the Legal Services Society has recently launched a Mediation Referral pilot project.

Low-income people who qualify financially for legal aid but have legal issues outside of the scope for a referral to a lawyer can now get six hours of services from the Mediate BC Society.

If the dispute is not resolved after the six hours of mediation, further services will be offered at sliding scale rates based on the parties’ income and assets.

“You can’t force someone to talk while they are there, but what we have seen is that when you get people into a room, the energy starts to generate and they get somewhere,” said Kari Boyle, Mediate BC’s executive director.

As the various initiatives make clear, the Liberal administration in Victoria is a big fan.

“Mediation is an effective and affordable alternative to going to court and government is proud to support innovative solutions that save B.C. families time and money in resolving their disputes and engaging in their own solutions,” said Justice Minister Suzanne Anton.

Boyle said mediations are far less expensive than going to court for a two-day trial.

“A 2014 survey of the legal community shows that the average legal fees for a family case are $14,500 per party and $29,000 for two parties, as compared with an average total mediation fee of just $1,784 shared between all parties,” she noted.

“It’s got a great deal of untapped potential. More families should be at least considering it as an option well before they start a court action, and whether or not they have legal counsel. The two are not mutually exclusive.”

She explained the partnership with the Legal Services Society was also an experiment in pricing services according to what people can really afford to pay.

“We’re looking forward to see how that works,” Boyle said.

“I think it should be expanded, and I’m thinking, you know, why wouldn’t lawyers also look at this way of doing it? You can serve more people and make some money but you know it’s proportional to what they can really afford.”

Still, she added, there aren’t enough mediators in some areas of the province, particularly the North.

“We want to increase the number significantly,” Boyle said.

“The need is definitely greater in the outlying areas and some areas are very underserved, particularly multicultural communities. There is a big gap there and in aboriginal communities, too. We’d like to have mediators from their own community to help them. There is a lot of work to do there.”

She said Mediate BC has started conducting annual surveys of its roughly 60 mediators to find out how many mediations they are conducting, what areas they are mediating in, their resolution rate, satisfaction levels of participants and costs.

The latest survey, for 2013, indicated they conducted about 1,000 family mediations, said Boyle, and she estimated another 2,000 were conducted by family justice counsellors, child protection mediators or mediators associated with other organizations.

The Mediate BC roster reported resolving all issues in 81 per cent of family cases, and another 17 per cent helping the parties move toward resolution, while 93 per cent of participants said they were satisfied with the process.

Read more:

How Mediation Can Benefit Your Family

Posted by on Aug 26, 2014 in Blog | Comments Off on How Mediation Can Benefit Your Family

How Mediation Can Benefit Your Family

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