Resolving disputes respectfully: this is the motto of Collaborative Practice, and one which I take to heart in all interactions with separating spouses, whether as litigation counsel, as a Children’s Lawyer, a collaborative lawyer or as a mediator. My goal is to tease out the BEST of you, at a time that each of you may be at your worst. It is possible, believe it or not! Don’t be ‘that family’ that everyone knows is toxic to themselves, their children and everyone around them.
Still an essentially positive person after years in family law, I believe that most people who have loved each other can, with the right skilled legal negotiating support, work together to create win-win Agreements for their separating families that will capture and protect the best of each family member. Don’t give up on communication with the other spouse! The best outcomes for children of separated parents come from children who do not witness (or even sense) parental conflict. Learning to communicate your needs without triggering defensive reactions from the other person can lead to much better outcomes for all, and help you to recognize and use your own power in the relationship for good. Most people can identify the other person’s power, but not their own!
I have focussed my dispute resolution education and training to be this skilled support person to resolve your dispute respectfully, and honestly assess your risks and options. Avoid the need for a third party stranger to impose a ‘cookie cutter’ solution to your unique family. Everyone goes through a separation differently – and that’s OK. I will help you identify the right path for you and your children, and give you the specialized legal and process knowledge to get you there in one piece.
Since 1997, I have delivered practical legal advice to my family law clients as a lawyer with compassion, respect, humour and empathy; my most exceptional skill is listening. Once I help you to identify your family’s unique current and future needs, I will challenge you gently but firmly to work through disappointment, confusion, sadness and fears towards the future you want and need.
I maintain positive working relationships with other lawyers in York Region (primarily), another important ingredient to achieving successful results for my clients.
I have extensive experience in the Ontario Superior Court as a persuasive, prepared and successful advocate, and I have also been successful at the Court of Appeal. This litigation experience has reinforced, however, that however wise our judges are, families can and must do better for themselves. I have been a Dispute Resolution Officer, but found I most enjoy helping people craft their own solutions without going to court, or helping them end court involvement.
In addition to excellent training and experience with collaborative law, I have elevated my skills by becoming an accredited mediator, a more rigorous standard of learning that few local lawyer/mediators have achieved. I also have provided several customized and enthusiastic trainings for different government agencies about family law issues.
I can also assist clients who represent themselves by working with them to prepare persuasive and effective court documents or Agreements with a focus on achieving resolution, helping self-represented parties to manage expectations, understand more challenging legal issues such as self-employed income, and understand how all the different information on the internet about ‘the law’ actually plays out in Court. Let my years of persuasive advocacy and experience help you avoid the negative experience of being unprepared or unsuccessful in court. If you are unlikely to succeed (or want to settle), I can help you to make a realistic settlement proposal.
I am proud that numerous clients have commented upon how accurate and persuasive my written advocacy is, as I capture the essence of their feelings and concerns. This comes from representing (at different times), all sides of family law disputes. I have represented separating husbands, wives, same sex partners, children for the Children’s Lawyer’s Office, provincial and regional government agencies, common law partners, people negotiating marriage contracts, and partners with a host of more complex challenges, such as domestic violence, addictions, mental health issues, high conflict separations and self-employed income issues. This has given me the depth and breadth of experience to provide realistic and helpful advice to clients.
All lawyers can tell you about the law – my goal is to help you find the best way through this difficult time, in the least harmful fashion. Sometimes people do need to go to court to get through their separation, but I can help you determine if it is necessary in your case. Your children will thank you!