Have You Been Served? How a Family Court Lawyer Can Help

Jul 4, 2018
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Have You Been Served? How a Family Court Lawyer Can Help

Here’s the situation: You’ve been served with divorce papers and you need to prepare a response. You have only thirty days to respond or you need to buy more time. You don’t have the first clue how to go about this yourself, so you need to find a family court lawyer in a hurry.

Don’t panic! There are plenty of good lawyers in York Region and Simcoe County. Family law in Barrie and Newmarket is a well-represented field. This process can certainly be navigated successfully, as long as you keep a cool head and find good representation. You need help. This is too important to do it yourself.

What Happens After You’ve Been Served

Movies and TV shows make it look so dramatic: Someone tricks you by pretending to deliver a package, then announces, “You’ve been served!” The reality is much less intimidating. It’s true that the first time you’re given the court documents related to your divorce, they must be given to you through special service, but this doesn’t usually involve any trickery. In fact, it’s very simple; your spouse may hire a process server, but they can also just ask any friend or family member over age 18 to deliver the papers to you – no drama required.

Once you’ve been served with divorce papers, that clears the way for your spouse to file the application in court. You have thirty days to respond – but before you can file your response with the court, you’re required to serve it to your spouse. Your answer will be included in the continuing record, which is a collection of the documents that have been filed with the court to be made available for the judge. Of course, you should keep copies of all documents as well.

If you and your spouse are in agreement about some or all of the claims in the divorce filing, you can try to settle those issues out of court through mediation or collaboration. If you don’t agree with the terms your spouse has offered, you can respond with a counter-offer.

At this point, your spouse can respond with an acceptance of the terms you’ve offered, a counter-offer, or an outright rejection. If your offer is rejected, it’s possible that your spouse will be required to pay a portion of your legal fees if you win in court (but speak to your lawyer about this). In the event of an acceptance or a counter-offer, it’s worth trying to work out an agreement to prevent a long and expensive trial. If not, you’ll need to find a lawyer who’s experienced with both litigation and negotiation to help you navigate the divorce process.

Clear as mud? Don’t worry – all of the ins and outs of family law leave many people’s heads spinning. The intricacies of the divorce process are difficult to navigate, which is why you need a qualified family law attorney on your side. Here are our lawyers in Barrie and in Newmarket.

Why Do You Need a Lawyer Who Focuses on Family Law Only?

When you’ve been served with divorce papers, it can feel like you’re staring down a long, dark tunnel with no glimpse of the other side. The truth is that divorce proceedings are often not nearly that bad. Family law in Barrie, Newmarket, and all of Ontario is focused on ensuring a fair settlement for both parties, and the law ensures that there are many opportunities to do this before going to trial.

However, it’s rare for a divorce to be quick and easy. No two divorces are exactly alike, so there’s no cookie-cutter solution to ending a marriage. Besides that, even in the event of an amicable separation, there is a lot of emotion involved. The emotional side of divorce often side tracks clients who want to resolve their case in a timely manner. It’s very difficult to make sound decisions without knowing all of the legal implications, as well as your specific rights and responsibilities. This is why you need a lawyer who focuses their entire law practice solely on family law. They know exactly what to do at every step of the case.

Choosing a Family Court Lawyer to Represent You

You’ll want to make sure that your lawyer has the experience, knowledge, and resources to be able to handle the paperwork, preparation, and any court time that may be required to finalize the dissolution of your marriage. You need a lawyer who limits their practice to family law and has been practicing family law for at least 2 years.

How do you vet a lawyer? Start by investigating their reputation. The Law Society of Ontario features a searchable directory of Ontario lawyers that includes disciplinary history as well as any restrictions on their ability to practice law. However, a clear disciplinary record doesn’t necessarily ensure a good lawyer. Take a look at their record of previous cases, including any special credentials or accomplishments, and find out whether they’re active in the community or in their field of expertise. Be wary of lawyers who guarantee a positive outcome for you; a good lawyer will advocate for you, but will know that the outcome is ultimately at the discretion of the judge. A good lawyer will give you the likely range of outcomes and explain that going to court is risky. One judge once said that if court was predictable, nobody would need to go to court. We would all know how a judge would settle it and we would avoid court. Wise words.

Once you’ve done some investigating, determine which of your choices has the best qualifications and get in touch with them. Speak with them honestly and ask the following questions:

  • Can you work within my budget?
  • Will you handle my case personally, or will other people on your team be taking it on?
  • Have you handled cases like mine before?
  • Do you practice in other areas of the law?
  • How long have been a practicing lawyer?
  • What are my process choices?

If the answers to these questions are satisfactory, the next step is to schedule a consultation. Look for lawyers who are easily accessible and responsive, with a solid team of legal professionals who can help you. Don’t make this decision lightly; after all, you’re about to go through an extremely difficult time, so you want your legal team to be the best one possible for you. The consultation is your opportunity to meet with a lawyer and determine if she or he is a good fit for you.

Hire the Right Family Court Lawyer to Protect Your Interests 

Getting divorced is not an easy process, but you don’t have to handle it on your own – in fact, you shouldn’t! After you’ve been served with divorce papers, the first step to defending yourself is to hire a family court lawyer. Your lawyer is there to protect you in sensitive matters such as support, custody, division of property and assets, and the other details that go into dissolving a marriage. In many cases, this means coming to an agreement long before going to trial; however, in case you can’t reach a settlement, you should be confident that your lawyer has the expertise and experience to protect your rights in court.

The family and divorce lawyers at Galbraith Family Law have the knowledge, experience, and ability to represent you for as long as it takes to reach a fair settlement. Even in Family Court, 95% of cases settle. Our goal is get you a favourable settlement in a timely and cost-effective manner. For a consultation, send a message through our website or give us a call. In Newmarket, call (289) 319-0635; in Barrie, (705) 727-4242.

About Brian Galbraith

Brian Galbraith is the owner and founder of Galbraith Family Law Professional Corporation. Brian is known in the legal community for his commitment to efficiently practicing family law using technology and streamlining the divorce processes.