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Meeting a Lawyer Virtually

Have you considered meeting a lawyer virtually ? Despite the confines of social distancing, we remain available to you online through Zoom or other platforms such as BlueJeans.

We can do client meetings virtually and exchange documents online.
We can conduct virtual mediations, arbitrations and collaborative four-way meetings.

Have you considered mediating court applications? We can resolve interim disputes and keep litigation moving. Garth Edwards can work with you to  find solutions to the problems you are having today. As a qualified Family Lawyer, in Arbitration, Mediation and Collaborative Divorce with years of experience, Garth Edwards can help. Meeting a lawyer virtually today may mean you do not have to wait for a solution until life returns to normal.

Garth Edwards is a qualified, Family Law Arbitrator and Family Law Mediator and Collaborative Family Lawyer.

Various platforms are ideal for mediations while social distancing remains the norm. Virtual mediations are particularly useful in situations of family violence. We have full facilities for breakout rooms and private meetings either virtually or physically in our office.

Zoom Is Currently the Preferred Platform for Conducting family law meetings. 

We continue to represent clients from the far reaches of the province and never need to meet in person if you are homebound or the cost of travel is prohibitive.

Contact Garth Edwards today to make an appointment and discuss your needs. 604.231.3497

Mediation offers a good alternative for some divorcing couples

This article looks at divorce mediation in British Columbia, including some of its advantages and drawbacks.

Divorce mediation has a long history in British Columbia, having been first recognized and regulated by the Law Society of British Columbia in 1984. However, as the Vancouver Sun reports, it has only been in the past decade or so, and in conjunction with governmental support, that mediation has grown to become a viable and popular alternative to resolving many divorces in the province. The advantages of mediation are fairly numerous, including often being cheaper and less adversarial when compared to litigation. Mediation, however, is not a panacea that will resolve all divorces equally well and it is important for couples considering mediation to know whether the process is likely to work for their needs.

What is mediation?

As the British Columbia Ministry of Justice points out, mediation can take a variety of forms. A mediator, for example, may be a Family Justice Counsellor, a lawyer, judge, social worker, or other professional who is qualified to carry out family dispute mediations. Likewise, while some mediations proceed with both spouses sitting at the same table along with a mediator and resolving their issues face to face, in other situations the spouses may be kept separate from one another and negotiate their settlement through a neutral mediator. What is most important to understand about mediation is that it is an alternative to litigation, meaning that outstanding issues that arise during the divorce are resolved out-of-court and by the spouses themselves (with the assistance of the mediator).

What are the benefits?

Every divorce is unique and couples choose mediation for a variety of personal reasons. Money can be a big motivating factor, since mediation typically costs just a fraction of what litigation would cost. However, couples should not choose mediation based on finances alone; rather, they have to be well-suited to a mediated settlement in order for the process to work. Couples who are still able to negotiate in a mature and respectful manner with one another and who can keep their own emotions from overwhelming their decisions are most likely to benefit from mediation. Furthermore, mediation tends to be less adversarial than litigation, which can make the process less upsetting not just for the divorcing spouses, but also for any children they may have.

What are the drawbacks?

While it would be great if all divorces could be resolved amicably and without the intervention of a judge, the fact is that in some cases litigation is a necessity. Mediation often fails when there is a power imbalance in a couple’s relationship or when trust has broken down during the negotiations (such as if one spouse attempts to hide assets from the other). In highly complex divorces, as well, couples may need or may prefer to rely on the court to resolve the numerous issues that can arise when dividing a large marital estate.

Family law

Deciding whether or not mediation may be the right process for a particular couple requires careful planning and consideration. A family lawyer, who has experience in divorce mediation, can inform couples about what mediation entails and whether it may be suitable to their particular circumstances.

Aquilini divorce finalized in British Columbia family court

While the magnitude of the divorce between Canucks co-owner Francesco Aquilini and his wife Tali’ah is something that most people won’t relate to, some of the broader issues are all too common for British Columbian families going through divorce proceedings. As with many battles, the Aquilini divorce was fraught with questions and battles over asset division.

According to the Vancouver Sun, the main assets in question during the divorce centered around a multibillion-dollar family trust. The patriarch of the Aquilini family, Francesco’s father Luigi, set up the trust to protect his and his family’s assets. The trust is quite complex, and legal issues involved determining if Francesco had legal ownership of any of the money or whether it was under his father’s name. This would have an impact on the amount of money his ex-wife may have received in the divorce settlement.

Allegations of adultery

In addition to the details involving the family trust, Francesco’s ex-wife accused him of adultery, charging that she should be eligible for a greater portion of the shared assets due to his role in ending the marriage. Incidentally, according to an article in CTV News, Canadian law stipulates that adultery is only relevant if a couple has been separated less than a year prior to the divorce. This was not the case for the Aquilinis, who had been separated for 12 months at the time of the hearing.

The confidential settlement

With outlets like The Vancouver Sun speculating that the divorce would “spill into” the province’s highest court and give the public a glimpse into “what happens when high-net-worth couples can’t settle their personal differences privately” and many others anticipating an extensive and heated court battle, the couple decided to formalize the divorce instead. They arrived at a largely confidential settlement early on in the second week of September, and a judge formally granted the divorce September 11.

In a statement released via a popular social media outlet September 9, Francesco suggested that the settlement was primarily motivated by weighing the effect that drawn-out divorce proceedings would have had on the children. “This settlement means we will be able to keep our personal lives private and, most importantly, avoid the negative impact of a trial on the children we both love,” he said. Outside the Vancouver courthouse on September 11, his ex-wife relayed similar sentiments, emphasizing that her “priority through this whole process” has been her children’s “protection and care.”

British Columbia divorce settlement statistics

While most divorces in British Columbia are uncontested, the Aquilini divorce was a high-profile example of a contested divorce. Only 23 percent of all divorces in British Columbia were contested, representing the highest rate of contested divorce among all the Canadian provinces, according to Statistics Canada. The Aquilini divorce had been ongoing for more than a year. According to statistics, the median length for contested divorces is 490 days, making the high-profile case rather typical in its duration.

The role of a family lawyer in a contested divorce

This case brings to light the unique role a family lawyer can play for both sides in a contested divorce case. For instance, family lawyers for Francesco argued that the family trust was not owned by him but instead by his father and that it did not count in the overall estimation of his wealth. Likewise, they did the same for his companies, advising Francesco not to speak with the media about the structure of his share in the Canucks or other investments.

On the other hand, family lawyers for his ex-wife argued that the companies, trusts and other complex financial instruments were just fancy ways of wrapping up Francesco’s wealth and that they should also be subject to asset division in the divorce.

For British Columbian couples broaching the subject of divorce, an insightful family lawyer could mean the difference between a difficult and contentious process and a fair and efficient separation. The lawyer may also offer mediation services that may help both spouses arrive at an equitable arrangement regarding emotionally heavy issues such as child custody or the division of sentimental objects.