Litigation and Representation
When parties cannot resolve their matrimonial matters through negotiation or mediation, or when immediate action is needed due to safety or hardship issues, litigation may be the only option. Litigation necessitates court proceedings to engage judges to assist with resolution, if possible, or to make legally binding court orders after consideration of evidence put forward by the parties. With an effective presence when we litigate in court, our representation of our clients can often lead to negotiated settlements which reduce expensive court battles.
In family law litigation, the experience of your legal representation is crucial. Our lawyers often use courtroom litigation in tandem with other methods of dispute resolution. We have the expertise and skill to navigate the complex and rigorous court process and an excellent reputation before judges in Ontario and other Canadian jurisdictions.
We will strategically advise you about your case from your first interview with us to explore your various options for resolving your dispute, be it through litigation, negotiation, mediation/arbitration, collaborative practice or a combination of methods.
If court proceedings are required, we will guide and assist you through the various stages of the litigation process including the drafting of pleadings, court conferences, contested motions and, ultimately, trial if absolutely necessary. The effective presentation of relevant evidence and the best legal argument is what sets Epstein Cole apart. We focus on that which is most relevant to the court.
We represent clients at all levels of court in Ontario. Family law matters are heard in the Ontario Court of Justice, the Superior Court of Justice, or the Family Court of the Superior Court of Justice. We appear in all courts in the Greater Toronto Area and elsewhere in Ontario. We also represent or provide strategic advice to clients outside of Ontario.
After a trial, if either party believes the court has made an error, an appeal may lie to a higher court such as the Divisional Court or the Court of Appeal of Ontario. The appeals court will review the case as was presented and determine whether to change or reverse a ruling on the basis of an error. Epstein Cole has the expertise to prepare and argue appeals and is often retained by trial counsel to act on or assist with the appeal.
We take a creative, practical, and intelligent approach to ensure any family law matter is dealt with in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible.
Court proceedings can be expensive, divisive and harmful to the family. In representing you, we are ever mindful of resolving matters through alternative dispute resolution methods such as out-of-court negotiations, mediation, and arbitration.
Negotiation is a way to resolve family law disputes through direct communications between lawyers. The proper exchange of documentation is still paramount. The process of negotiation on your behalf entails knowledge of the law and facts and some creativity to arrive at a solution that both parties can accept. Our years of collective experience and reputation for reasoned and strategic guidance in the negotiation process is an unparalleled advantage for our clients.
Mediation is a process in which the parties try to reach an agreement through a neutral person called a mediator. A mediator assists with identifying issues and finding solutions for all matters of family law, including support, custody, and division of property. Parties can try mediation before a court case is started or at any time during the court process. It is a completely voluntary and less costly system that can help to avoid conflict by improving communication.
If negotiated settlement cannot be reached, the parties can choose to have their dispute determined through arbitration. Here, each party will present evidence and make their case to the person acting as the arbitrator. The arbitrator then makes a private, legally binding decision that is enforceable by the court. Like court proceedings, having highly-skilled trial counsel is paramount to the success of your case.
Epstein Cole lawyers represent parties in mediation and arbitration and, themselves, act as mediator and arbitrators.
Collaborative Practice or Collaborative Family Law
Collaborative Practice is an out-of-court process designed to replace the predominantly adversarial nature of traditional matrimonial litigation with a client-directed process which prioritizes full disclosure and interests-based dispute resolution.
At the start of the CP process, both parties and their lawyers sign a Participation Agreement and commit to working in a good faith, collaborative and cooperative manner to explore and arrive at creative solutions which meet the family's interests. The parties also agree that should the CP process terminate, neither lawyer can participate in any court proceedings on behalf of their client in the future, requiring each party to retain new lawyers if the CP process breaks down. As there is a cost to retaining new counsel, there is an incentive for both parties to remain within CP without the threat of litigation.
As a result, rather than court proceedings, the CP process involves a series of meetings (as many as necessary) with lawyers and parties present. At these meetings and, in fact, through the whole process, the parties inform the agenda, with guidance and advice from counsel. An integral part of the process, where necessary, is the joint retainer of outside specialists (financial planners, valuators, accountants, social workers, child psychologists, etc.) to help the family with the issues arising from their separation.
Lawyers at Epstein Cole have had the specific training required to represent you in a CP matter and can advise you whether your matter is appropriate for the Collaborative Practice process.
Unbundled Legal Services, Limited Scope Retainers, Litigation Coaching
Limited scope retainers and/or unbundled legal services are situations where a lawyer provides limited legal services to a client In their family law matter. A limited retainer may be crafted to assist you for specific meetings, negotiations, or at particular points in your case for legal advice, preparation or review of documents, or for limited representation in court for a specific conference or hearing.
We can also be retained to provide advice and litigation coaching to assist you when you represent yourself in court or at a hearing, to familiarize you with court process and procedures.
Limited scope retainers and unbundled services are meant to provide legal insight and guidance at an affordable cost and facilitate better access to justice in family law. We offer individualized, cost-sensitive services, tailored to each client’s situation and budget. Our lawyers provide focused and practical litigation coaching to help clients better understand and navigate the complex family law process.
Private Representation of Children
Sometimes it is in a child's best interests to have their own lawyer in family law disputes to offer protection, to give the child a voice, and to assist in determining the strength, consistency and independence of their views. Judges can appoint a lawyer on the request of one or both parents, or if they think it is necessary to protect the child's interests. Sometimes our mandate to represent a child will also involve a private mental health professional.
Family law disputes can be hard on children. When representing a child, our lawyers handle each unique situation, and child, with care and sensitivity. Our goal is to always find the best possible solutions, tailored to each individual child. Some of our lawyers are on the panel of lawyers frequently used by the Ontario Children's Lawyer.