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Offers to settle in Ontario family law may have costs attached

It is not part of the traditional marriage vow but the word "compromise" may figure significantly in the dissolution of a marriage. Unfortunately, compromise is laden with connotations that do not at all describe how it can promote mutually satisfactory, progressive solutions to issues which arise during formal divorce proceedings. In Ontario family law matters, reaching agreement toward the settlement of any one mutual concern can help create a conciliatory pathway forward.

However, a working dialogue may be backlit by perceptions which militate against agreement. In a recent study covering 10-year-old marriages, fact-based realities of one spouse's spending habits were pitted against the misperceptions of the other spouse. The researchers extrapolated an unwillingness on both sides to shift perceptions, despite evidence to the contrary. Dramatically high percentages of fixed and disparaging perceptions persisted, thwarting progress and dead-ending possible fixes.

When an offer to settle a particular concern such as child or spousal support is tabled, an experienced family law practitioner could help the client understand the legal outcomes of either rejecting or accepting the offer. For example, the rejection of an offer that Ontario courts deem reasonable may bring on legal cost consequences. A client working without the guidance of a seasoned family law lawyer might be totally unprepared for such a possibility.

In such a case, the client might lay outdated perceptions aside and revisit the offer. It is often said that, by definition, divorce is the scene of irreconcilable differences. Not so. When better angels prevail, the divorce process can help refresh and reconfigure a life path. It is as profound an undertaking as formal marriage is and, with the advice and knowledge of an Ontario family law lawyer, could move forward with a minimum of unwelcome surprises.

Source:, "What is an offer to settle in a family law court case?", Accessed on Oct. 2, 2017

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