When divorce negotiations stall, strategic court processes can move things forward

Emotion is frequently a hallmark of a marital break-up which may complicate and/or stall a resolution surrounding children, money and assets.

An important element that needs to be addressed early on in divorce proceedings is the children, such as parenting time and child support. In some cases, division of property, debt, and a potential spousal support claim may be dealt with later.

Prioritize children’s needs

Because children are the priority, where they live, the time they spend with each parent, and all issues related to them, cannot usually be put off. Therefore, at least in the interim, they are usually dealt with first.

Where a resolution may get bogged down is with issues related to money and property. For example, an emotional or upset party may stall the process by delaying their financial disclosure. This could frustrate the other spouse who likely wants to move things forward.

Full financial disclosure is mandatory and a crucial element in the separation process because neither party should make decisions until they’re fully informed of their financial picture.

Having to wait for the other party to respond to requests for financial information or co-operate in the process can therefore be frustrating.

Legal steps to advance the matter

Even if a separation starts with an acrimonious tone, there are ways to work around emotion-driven impediments and delays to achieve the necessary resolution.

A party frustrated by the lack of progress in accessing full financial disclosure can file a Notice of Family Claim, which then allows them to set a Judicial Case Conference.

A Judicial Case Conference is an initial hearing before a Judge or Master and is required in the majority of all family law cases. The Court may, for example, make orders for certain materials within a specific time period, therefore, making it a useful tool in obtaining financial disclosure in a timelier fashion. An order made in a Judicial Case Conference also demonstrates that one party can’t simply refuse to move forward or delay the case.

Financial disclosure key to resolution

Often, in relationships, one person tends to control the family’s finances and assets. That results in a knowledge imbalance, leaving the other party out of the loop and without access to a full accounting of the financial picture. So, without disclosure of financial information from both parties, the case cannot be fully resolved.

When one party is served with a Notice of a Family Claim and the Notice of Judicial Case Conference, they often retain counsel, which can also help move the issues forward.

Following full financial disclosure, it is also possible to either attend mediation and/or draft a settlement proposal. These two steps can mean the legal action is discontinued because it is settled out of Court.

It is also important to note that a Judicial Case Conference can be held throughout the process, and not just at the beginning. While it’s a good early step in the litigation process and may help move the matter out of the courtroom, it can be used at any point upon request.

*This post is not intended to be legal advice and should not be taken as such. Please contact McConnan Bion O’Connor & Peterson if you have any questions regarding this post or require assistance or legal advice regarding a divorce negotiation.