"Welcome to the Divorce Factory"
Are you an individual?
Is your life experience unique to YOU?
Or, when you find yourself in difficulty, do you feel like the answer to your problem should come to you like a ball of gum from a vending machine - put your nickle in, and out pops your solution.
Welcome to the judicial system, dealing with your divorce.
If you want to understand my point, take a look, for example, at the mandated Form for a Statement of Claim for Divorce in Alberta.
It's a PDF online form, where you fill in the blanks, and then literally "check off" the boxes to tell the Court what you want them to do.
It's the epitome of "one size fits all".
Is that how your divorce should be treated?
Is your marriage, your family, your business the same as everyone else's?
Are the circumstances in YOUR home, in Lethbridge, or Calgary, or Grande Prairie, or Kalamazoo for that matter, the same as everywhere else?
When you find yourself in the midst of a divorce - one of the most stressful and uncertain periods of your adult life - do you want to engage a system where your problems, and your hopes are treated like they are coming into Court on an assembly line?
Well, welcome to the litigation system.
Ignoring the costs and delays inherent in litigation, the judicial system is truly like a big factory assembly line, except that on that conveyor belt are your children, your bank accounts, your business, and your sense of self.
And like any assembly line, the success of the process is premised on uniformity of product.
Input "A" must lead to output "B".
Now - lawyers and judges do their best to try and deal with the differences between the parties, however, starting from the top down, our Courts have, over the last two or three decades, tried to accomplish radical change in the family law system.
And that means, well, creating "uniformity".
Do you doubt me?
Take a look at the Child Support Guidelines, the Spousal Support Guidelines, and the Matrimonial Property Act.
Input income and assets - "A", and the courts are asked to then create outputs by way of Child Support "B", Spousal Support "C", and Property Division "D".
And while there are circumstances that the court can use to differentiate between outcomes (except in child support), the reality is that Judges are human beings. They see people coming before them every day, day in and day out, and all of those people at a certain point begin to blur into a large faceless blob. And when you combine that with massive pressure to produce "desired" outcomes, well, the results in very little ability for the divorce factory to see you as unique.
And so, very often, it is patently obvious that as sincerely as Judge's may attempt to exercise their duties, the tried and true ground (precedent if you will) becomes their touchstone.
One. Size. Fits. All.
Is that for you?
If not, you might consider Collaborative Divorce.
No judges. And while the law is relevant and will be explained to you, if you and your spouse or partner would like to consider other ways of addressing YOUR issues, "outside of the box" if you will, well, that option can be put on the table.
Maybe you would like to pay your wife much higher support than a court would order after your separation to help her get into a good University to complete that degree she put on hold to have your children.
Maybe having your children remain in their home is more important to you than increasing your income stream through spousal support - so you waive or limit your support claims in exchange for keeping your husband's share of the house.
Maybe you would like to make some of your property settlement tax deductible, so you negotiate a higher spousal support order, in exchange for a greater share of property.
Maybe you are a farmer - and instead of selling the land you inherited from your father, who inherited it from your grandfather - you agree to transfer two quarter sections of land to your wife, and then enter into a long-term lease. And then maybe both of you agree to ultimately sell the whole of the farm to your children.
All of these options, and more, can be discussed and, possibly, agreed to in a Collaborative Divorce.
In a Courtroom?
No so much.
More like, "Do you want fries with that?"