Marriage Contracts and Cohabitation Agreements
When Mervyn’s clients are embarking on a relationship of permanency, either by way of marriage or cohabitation, Mervyn’s regular advice to them is to negotiate and have drafted a marriage contract (also known as “prenuptial”) or a cohabitation agreement (for client’s cohabiting and living together in a relationship of permanency). Mervyn regularly negotiates and drafts marriage contracts for clients who are planning on marrying; while for clients who will be living together in a permanent relationship but will not be marrying, Mervyn negotiates and drafts cohabitation agreements. Though the negotiation and drafting of marriage contracts and cohabitation agreements, Mervyn clarifies and protects the rights, entitlements and responsibilities of his clients related to such issues as property ownership and division, child and spousal support, should his clients’ relationships end in the future.
Negotiation and Drafting of Separation Agreements:
When clients’ relationships end Mervyn’s regular advice to them is to first try and negotiate an amicable settlement of the issues that have arisen from the end of their relationships before even considering going to court. While sometimes the involvement of a court is required, most of the time, clients—with the assistance of experienced lawyers—can negotiate a settlement that is respectful of their rights, entitlements and responsibilities. Mervyn regularly negotiates those terms of settlement and drafts a comprehensive separation agreement—a legally binding contract—which is designed to reduce those terms of settlement to writing so that clients can move on with their lives with certainty and with the knowledge that they have a clearly laid out “road map” to follow in relation to such important issues as child custody and parenting, mobility rights with children, the division of property and debts, child support and spousal support, and a regime by which clients can resolve future disputes.
Determining the payable support provided to the custodial parent as well as any other expenses that might be effected, such as; education, medical and dental, extracurricular activities.
Court, Mediation and Arbitration Processes
When clients’ relationships end they sometimes can’t work out an amicable settlement.
Sometimes they have to resort to a litigation process, either by way of a court process or engaging in arbitration. In Ontario, a court process is commenced and prosecuted either before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice (if there are property issues involved) or the Ontario Court of Justice (if for example, the only issues involve custody, access or support claims).
A court process will involve the exchange of formal
pleadings and financial disclosure, the attendance of clients at a number of mandatory court attendances, including various conferences
which will be held before a presiding judge, possible attendance at motions, and—if settlement cannot be arrived at—the hearing of a trial to allow a trial judge to finally rule of the court process and bring it to an end at that jurisdiction.
A court process is expensive and time consuming. Mervyn is more than aware of this from his years in court representing clients. As so, while Mervyn regularly represents clients in court processes, it is because they are expensive and time consuming, that Mervyn always recommends to clients that they try and negotiate an amicable settlement of the issues that have arisen as a result of their relationships ending before a court process is contemplated; and if one has begun, Mervyn works tirelessly for his clients to try and get a settlement of their court process at the earliest stage possible in the court process.
However, when a settlement can not be arrived at, Mervyn will represent his clients to trial; and if one is required, an appeal.
Another way of arriving at a settlement for clients is to engage in mediation, a process of alternative dispute resolution which Mervyn regularly engages in on behalf of his clients and which he regularly recommends to clients. While Mervyn recommends to clients that they try to resolve disputes with the assistance of lawyers, sometimes the services of a neutral third party mediator is required; and it is under those circumstances, when Mervyn will recommend to clients that they retain the services of a mediator, such as another senior family law lawyer, or a former judge, to work to try and bridge disputes between clients and their partners to—if at all possible—arrive at a settlement and avoid expending further time and money.
Finally, clients can also have disputes with their partners resolved through arbitration, which is a form of alternative dispute resolution, which can best be described as a form of private court process. Arbitration is performed by privately retained family law arbitrators who are required to hold certain qualifications in Ontario to act, and who are able to hear clients disputes and resolve them through decisions which can be enforced in the courts in Ontario. Arbitrations can be held on relatively short notice, require none of the mandatory steps that Ontario’s courts require–such as multiple conference attendance—and can be structured by the presiding arbitrator to proceed in an expeditious and cost efficient manner. Mervyn regularly recommends arbitration to clients