In general, Canadian family law is concerned with domestic partnerships, marriages, and divorces. Canadian family law often takes into consideration topics such as child support, spousal support, enforcing child or spousal support, and divorce and separation. Although it may sound a bit complicated, a family lawyer can greatly simplify the process. Various family law firms can be found in all major Canadian cities, including Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Edmonton.
Types of Family Law
Family lawyers in Canada offer a variety of services.
Family Court Lawyers – Family court lawyers represent clients during trial and litigation, in a variety of matters, including child custody, parental rights, divorce, child support, and spousal support.
Pre- and Post-Nuptial Family Lawyers – Pre-nuptial agreements are signed before the marriage and outline what occurs in case of separation. Post-nuptial agreements are drafted during the marriage. A skilled family lawyer can help couples protect their financial assets in case of divorce or separation.
Disability Family Lawyers – Complications can arise during divorces, in which disability benefits are being received. Family lawyers specializing in this particular field can streamline the process.
Common Law Family Lawyers – Although divorces are not necessary for common law couples, complications may arise in regards to the custody of pets or children. Family lawyers can simplify the process.
Cohabitation Agreements – Many family law firms offer domestic contracts or legal agreements for cohabiting couples. Areas covered include ownership or division of property and support obligations.
Family Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) – Some family law firms now offer mediation and dispute resolution services as alternatives to court litigation. In many cases, some form of mediation is known to lower litigation costs in the long run.
Real Estate, Wills, and Power of Attorney – In cases of separation or divorce, couples will need a family lawyer to transfer property or rights to another individual.
Family Property Division and Sharing – Equalization is a term used in family law to the right to an equal share of family property in a divorce.
Enforcement of Court Orders – Family lawyers can help clients enforce court orders, such as custody.
How to Choose a Family Lawyer in Canada
Choosing a lawyer does not have to be a complicated process.
It is important to find a lawyer with whom you are comfortable. Can you speak freely in front of them? Does your lawyer understand your needs and specific circumstances? Are they respectful and compassionate?
Next, it is crucial to find a firm with experience. Does this law firm have relevant experience in family law? Do they possess the necessary skills?
Finally, personal recommendations from friends, family, and coworkers are also an option.
Cost of Family Lawyers in Canada
The cost of family lawyers varies by geographical location, services offered, and reputation of the lawyer or law firm.
Many law firms offer a free 20-minute initial phone consultation or a free 30-minute in-person consultation to discuss all options.
In addition, many Canadian lawyers also accept Legal Aid certificates. These differ by province and territory. For example, Leg Aid Ontario helps financially eligible, low-income citizens with issues such as family law and domestic violence law.
The next step in the process is to sign a retainer agreement and provide an initial deposit.
Hourly rates are approximately $325 CAD per hour and are only billed for time spent on the client’s matters. These include correspondence with client and third parties, research, drafting documents, among others.
Hourly rates include travel time to court appearances, settlement conferences, and consultations on a client’s behalf.
Other family lawyers may work on a contingency fee. This means that the lawyer will collect a fixed percentage of the settlement or winnings, upon successful completion of services. The client will pay the contingency fee or the billed hourly rate, whichever is greater.
Providing family lawyers with all pertinent information during communication ensures saving billable hours.
Rates for contested divorces in Canada range from $7,824 CAD to $46,578 CAD, with an average of $15,306 CAD.
Uncontested divorces are significantly less. For example, in Ontario, the average cost is $1,302, with ranges from $1,125 CAD to $1,966 CAD.
Trials of up to 2 days cost $18,710 CAD, while those up to 5 days cost $33,564 CAD.
According to a survey by the Canadian Research Institute for Law and Family (CRILF) and the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice (CFCJ), disputes requiring litigation ranged from $12,395 CAD to $54,390 CAD.
Low-conflict family law cases require an average 10.8 months, and 27.7 months for high-conflict disputes.