Navigating the legal system can sometimes seem like an unnecessary hassle, especially if you are deciding legal matters after an amicable separation between you and your spouse. Between court dates, a large number of forms to choose from and fill out correctly, and language that is not commonly used in modern Canada it can seem like the only way to navigate the legal system is with the help of a well-trained divorce lawyer. However, Canada is trying to make the entire legal process more accessible to those who have lower incomes and little to no knowledge of the court system. They plan to do this using various websites, and here are some things you can expect from them in the near future.
One of the more difficult parts of filing for divorce, especially without representation, is figuring out which forms you need to file and filling in the correct information on all of the forms. Mistakes can not only cost you time, but they can also cost you money or reduce your parental rights.
New websites are being created to help those who cannot afford legal counsel to fill out the correct forms. They do so by asking plain, clear questions about your situation in everyday language. This information is then automatically filled into the appropriate forms, which can be printed. Soon, these forms may have an option to be filed electronically, as well.
While these forms can get you started, it is important to note that the legal advice on these sites are limited. If you have a complex situation, you may need to consult with a lawyer about your options.
Online Court Procedures
Canada, Holland, and England are paving the way with online court proceedings. For simple disputes in family law, both parties may submit proper forms and evidence through an electronic system. Judges will then be able to review cases at their leisure and issue verdicts that can be communicated through an online meeting, via email, or by phone.
Online court procedures have the benefit of being quick and easy for you and the court officials. However, you lose the benefit of being able to discuss your case with the judge unless you can set up an online hearing. At the moment, Canada's courts only offer small claim proceedings online, but family law should soon follow suit. Until then, you can register your divorce proceedings online and have access to the current status of your case.
Because Canada is a no-fault divorce country, the division of assets is rather straightforward no matter who initiates the divorce and why. This makes it easy to calculate how your property and finances will be divided and who, if anyone, will owe alimony and child support. You can expect to see online calculators that will allow you to input your current financial information and make decisions about division of assets in the near future.
Although online proceedings and information can seem helpful and make your divorce go more quickly, it is still important to consult with a lawyer if you can. 74.3% of couples think that they will be able to divorce amicably. Unfortunately, only about 30% of couples actually do so. This means that when you and your current spouse actually start the division of assets, it is likely that one of you will start contesting various aspects of the division and possibly trying to work the system to get more than your fair share of your estate. A lawyer can help you navigate your rights and obligations in a way that online forms and court procedures cannot.