Couples dissolving their marriages often have multiple issues they cannot resolve without help. In such cases, they have a contested divorce.
A contested divorce does not necessarily mean high conflict, but it requires the spouses to work to reach a consensus on outstanding issues. Engaging a knowledgeable Toronto divorce lawyer like Paul Riley at The Riley Divorce & Family Law Firm could ensure you and your spouse address the contested areas efficiently, helping to smooth the way to a final divorce decree quickly and with little rancor.
A spouse initiates a divorce when they file Form 8A with the court. This application must state the grounds for seeking divorce and include the applicant’s suggestions regarding property equalization, spousal support, child support, parenting time, and parental responsibility. They (the applicant) must arrange for the papers to be served to the other spouse (the respondent). If a spouse disagrees with any aspect of the applicant’s submission, they have 30 days to file a Form 10 Answer.
Once a spouse files an answer, the Toronto court enters the divorce proceedings on its docket, and the lawyers for each side prepare to negotiate a settlement for the issues in contention. These typically begin with a timeline for financial disclosure. Both parties to the divorce must make a complete disclosure of all assets and debts during the proceedings, and if the disclosure is complex, verifying the information could require significant time and the assistance of external experts.
A lawyer like Paul Riley pays careful attention to the grounds cited in the divorce application. An applicant must allege one of three reasons for the marriage’s failure: adultery, cruelty or abuse, or separation for at least one year. Only an allegation of cruelty and abuse has a potential impact on the final parenting order, and a spouse might make this allegation to influence the other’s parental rights post-divorce.
The law requires judges to consider only the best interests of the child when making parenting orders. Ontario’s Childrens’ Law Reform Act s.24(3)(j) explicitly directs the judge to consider any history of family violence and how it might impact the child and assess the wisdom of issuing an order requiring spouses to cooperate for the child’s benefit. Note that the term family violence in this context includes emotional abuse and a pattern of coercion and controlling behavior, not just physical or sexual abuse.
It is critical for any Toronto area parent alleging or contesting cruelty and abuse as a ground for contested divorce to work with a savvy and experienced lawyer. Issues surrounding parenting orders are often fraught and become more so when one parent alleges the other cannot provide a safe and wholesome home. If the allegations are true, you need a competent legal professional to establish that your children require protection.
Regardless of the issues of disagreement, it is always preferable to resolve them without a trial whenever possible. Several mechanisms exist that could help spouses reach a settlement that will avoid the stress, delay, expense, and potential embarrassment of a court hearing.
Once the parties have made their financial disclosures and verified them, if necessary, negotiations begin. Spouses who could be in each other’s presence without safety concerns often work with a mediator or collaborative divorce team to find consensus on outstanding issues. In Toronto, when the parties to a divorce are unable to work together, their lawyers might conduct negotiations to resolve disputed issues.
When negotiations have not produced agreements within a few months, the parties might schedule a case conference with the judge. The judge may suggest potential solutions, but the parties are not bound to them. When a case conference does not lead to a resolution, the parties could request a trial.
Divorce is stressful under the best of circumstances, but far more so when it is contested. Engage a proficient lawyer who is available 24/7 to walk you through any concerns that may arise throughout the process.
Working with one of our Toronto contested divorce lawyers means you have a legal representative who will fight to achieve your goals and do so as efficiently as possible, avoiding unnecessary contentiousness. Reach out today to discuss your needs with a skilled professional.
Now you can have your Consultation with Paul Riley any time from the comfort of your own home. With video calls from Zoom, your Team at The Riley Divorce & Family Law Firm can meet with you virtually, and learn about your case. All you need is a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop with a built-in camera and microphone.
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