I don’t think that there are many people out there who don’t know at least one person who has been through a divorce. Divorces can be excruciatingly difficult on all involved… and that’s even before you get the legal system involved.
Most of the divorcees we’ve talked to told us they wished more than anything for it “just to be over”. Not everything works out and you just want to move on with your life. At some point, it doesn’t matter who’s right anymore. You just want closure.
The last thing you want is to go through what will inevitably be a lengthy, expensive, and highly emotionally draining court battle.
Unfortunately for those involved, the family court proceedings are anything but quick and painless.
Family court proceedings can be lengthy
It’s hard to believe but an incredible ~290,000 family proceedings are heard in Ontario every year. Unfortunately, only around half of family law cases are resolved in a year or less. In fact, a quarter of family law cases take over two years!
Family court is not cheap
With average legal fees in Canada running at ~$14k per party – that’s right $28k in total at a time when you’re already both taking a hit in ‘disposable income’ by virtue of the separation – it’s no wonder many can’t afford to hire a lawyer. Unfortunately, those figures aren’t representative of what you’ll pay if your case goes to trial. Contested divorces which result in trial can run you about $36k PER PERSON on average!!!!!
You might think, isn’t that what legal aid is for? Alas, according to this study by the Law Society of Upper Canada, while 16% of Ontarians are living below the poverty line, only 7% qualify for full representation under legal aid.
No choice but to self-represent
It’s no wonder that so many choose to self-represent, or are forced to as they run out of money for legal fees. An estimated 50%-80% of family litigants are self-represented.
Unfortunately, those self-representing often get a worse outcome than those using lawyers. The University of Calgary Faculty of Law has put a great post out on some of the challenges here. The Canadian Bar Association has put out another great piece here. Ultimately, one of the biggest challenges to a self-represented litigant is navigating the family system on their own. Another problem is having unrealistic expectations about outcomes. This can sometimes lead participants to go to court rather than settle which, as we’ve seen above, can cost a whole lot more.
Is there a better way?
Our very own Legal Innovation Zone is spearheading an initiative to improve this process for everyone. You can learn all about their Family Reform initiative here. This will be 4-months of intense community collaboration to envision and build better processes for family law. The first session takes place this Saturday so, if you haven’t already, register here. We’re excited to be part of this change!!!!
As you all know, Kabuk is working hard to get better outcomes for all Canadians too! You can weigh in by taking our survey here. Check out our resources on family law in Canada or use Kabuk to find family lawyers and book an appointment with the best family lawyer for your needs. It’s free to use!
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