Getting Divorced in Nova Scotia

A couple sits down with a divorce mediator in Nova Scotia, one of the ways to speed up divorce.

What are the types of divorce in Nova Scotia?

If you are getting divorced in Nova Scotia, there are two types of divorce. Contested and uncontested. An uncontested divorce is one in which both parties agree on all things in terms of parenting arrangements, child and spousal support, and the division of assets. When you both agree, things obviously can move along quicker. A contested divorce is where there is disagreement about some of the beforementioned subjects. Perhaps the petitioner (person filling the divorce) did not include spousal support and the answerer (other party) believes they deserve it. The divorce is now contested and the process will lengthen.

How much time does contesting a divorce add to the process?

A contested divorce will typically take a year or more to complete assuming the matter proceeds to a full trial; however, only a small number of contested divorces proceed to trial as most matters are resolved at a judicial settlement conference.  At such a conference, the parties and their lawyers will meet with a judge for an afternoon on a voluntary basis and efforts are made to resolve outstanding issues by agreement.  
The court in Halifax has said about 90% of judicial settlement conferences end in a negotiated settlement.  
To secure a judicial settlement conference, you need to file the requisite court documents–with a lawyer involved normally it takes about an hour or two to prepare these documents. Within a month or two, the  court will set up a  short administrative conference with a judge (by telephone) to determine if the matter is ready for a settlement conference.  At the administrative conference, if the judge concludes all the necessary financial paperwork has been disclosed, then the matter will be set down for a 2 hour settlement conference with a judge, booked two or three months after the administrative conference.  At the settlement conference, the judge will meet with each party and their lawyer separately, at least initially, and work to craft a mediated settlement that is acceptable to all involved. 
The process of judicial settlement can take on average three to five months provided things are easy to settle, and can take more time if the parties are particularly disagreeable. 

How much will contesting a divorce in Nova Scotia add to the cost?

The court filing fee is approximately $300.  If you want a lawyer to prepare your court documents and attend the settlement conference, you should expect legal fees of at least $5,000 for each party.  

Are there alternatives to judicial settlement when a divorce is contested in Nova Scotia?

Mediation is often an alternative option.  This is where instead of meeting with a judge, the parties meet with a legal mediator. This is a person who is trained to help the parties negotiate the settlement terms. Legal fees for divorce mediation with Brookshire Law office are about $2,500 for each party for our three-week mediation program. Our divorce mediation program saves significant time and money in the divorce process.

If you are getting divorced in Nova Scotia and would like to start a mediation or divorce, contact us today to book a consultation with our family lawyer, Shawn Scott. 

This blog is meant for informational purposes only and is not a replacement for legal advice.

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