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Does A Marriage Contract Or Co-habitation Agreement Make Sense For You?

Sometimes called a “pre-nup,” it is often disparaged because some people say it coldly takes the romance out of a pending marriage and assumes the couple will end up divorcing.

A marriage contract is simply an agreement between two people on how property and assets will be divided in the event that a marriage fails, and whether there will be spousal support payments.

If there is a great disparity in wealth or income between the couple, a marriage contract makes sense because it allows for a calm discussion when everybody is happy rather fighting over every little issue if the relationship deteriorates and ends. A court is bound by the agreement unless a judge sets it aside because, for example, it violates Ontario law.

Judges rely on a marriage contract in determining support and property issues if a case comes before them, providing that the marriage contract is not blatantly one-sided. Judges have been known to set aside marriage contracts where one spouse clearly has taken a huge advantage over the other.

We’ve helped happy couples draft marriage contracts that are fair to both parties, and will pass scrutiny by a judge if worst comes to worst.

It’s not that we are not romantic or don’t believe in happily ever after; rather, we encourage marriage contracts because family is important to you and me.

Divorce Lawyers in Newmarket, Richmond Hill & Vaughan

A divorce decree granted by a court is the last step in the process of ending your divorce. In Ontario, a couple can divorce if they have been separated for one year, if there is proof of adultery, or if one partner subjected the other to physical or mental cruelty.

If there is a settlement agreement that has been signed by both spouses, you can apply for a divorce decree. No agreement is necessary if there are no children, but it is always recommended. Then, after waiting 31 days, the court will grant the divorce decree. This is an important legal document that should be kept in a safe place; for example, you will need it to be issued a marriage license if you ever decide to remarry.

Divorce is challenging for everyone: You, your spouse, your children and even your family and friends.

You want someone strong standing in your corner to protect your rights and those of your children in this difficult time. So, you need a divorce lawyer who understands what you are going through and has a wide range of experience in all of the negotiation and litigation scenarios that emerge.

We are well-known for our work in all aspects of divorce that lead up to the final decree: An equitable division of property, child custody and access, spousal and child support, the separation agreement, restraining orders and the Family Responsibility Office, which we often recommend using as a “gatekeeper” in a divorce.

We’ve also helped couples who can agree on their own about the terms of their separation agreement, as well as explore alternatives to court.

Our priority always is to protect the interests our clients. We keep you informed as the process moves along, and ensure that it is transparent so that we can help you make the best decisions during a difficult period.

Each member of our team answers your questions and addresses your concerns clearly to bring about a resolution so you can move forward with the next stage of your life.

We stand up for you during this difficult time because family is important to you and me.


Our flat fee for an uncontested divorce in the Greater Toronto Area is $1500 plus HST.

In an uncontested divorce, only a divorce order and certificate are sought from a court. The couple has settled all of the issues of child or spousal support between them as well as custody of and access to any children, and how property is divided.

In an uncontested divorce, the spouses involved will not be required to appear in court.

This is why we offer a flat, fixed fee to help you prepare the documents needed for an uncontested divorce. Our rate is only $1,500.00 plus HST.

Compare our rate with other family law firms. Fees for uncontested divorce vary but typically range from $2,000-$2,500.00

At Rachel Radley Family Law, we offer inexpensive, hassle-free Ontario uncontested divorce services, simply and at highly favorable rates. You won’t even need to go to cour


Deciding to end a marriage or relationship is almost always painful. People are coping with emotions ranging from anger, betrayal and disillusionment to frustration, fear and hurt.

In Ontario, a separation must precede the actual divorce. A Separation Agreement is a contract signed by the spouses when they decide to separate. It establishes the financial relationship between the spouses as they end their marriage or relationship and covers how your children will be cared for and supported.

In the Separation Agreement, a couple outlines the terms of property and asset division, and what to do with a matrimonial home. The matrimonial home has special conditions attached to it under Canadian law. As well, this Agreement may cover custody and access provisions for the children and, if eligible, spousal support.

But if you and your spouse cannot agree through negotiating, our lawyers will fight for you in court.

Living Separate And Apart

Often, people will say their spouse moved out of the matrimonial home months or even years ago and they want a divorce quickly.

Ontario requires couples to complete a one-year separation period, which begins the day you begin living as separate individuals even if you continue to share the matrimonial residence. “Apart and separate” means that there is no reasonable chance of you getting back together. The date of separation is critical. Moreover, if a couple reconciles for more than 90 days, they must complete a new one-year separation if they split up again.

Although a couple can draft their own Separation Agreement, a family law lawyer is indispensable to ensure that your Separation Agreement meets provincial requirements and protects your rights should your former spouse be unable to meet their obligations.

So, while “doing it yourself” might seem like a cost-effective strategy, you could incur costly legal and court fees later because the contract was improperly drafted. You could lose out on a lot of money if income or assets are overlooked. As a result, you could find yourself in a battle later over division of property because the agreement will not hold up in court and therefore not be enforceable.

Rachel Radley Family Law Can Help

If you and your former spouse are on good terms, and you plan to write your own Agreement, it is still important to consult a separation lawyer to ensure that you are aware of your rights and entitlements. Our team of experienced and knowledgeable separation lawyers also can help review any documents.

Our separation and divorce lawyers can also help you draft a clear, comprehensive and enforceable separation agreement. As you embark on this new stage in your life, we will make sure that your rights and those of your children, are protected and you can focus on your future.

You say you cost less per hour than other Everett divorce attorneys. How much are other attorneys charging?


You say you cost less per hour than other Everett divorce attorneys. How much are other attorneys charging? 

From what we notice, most divorce attorneys in this geographic area charge around $250 to $350 per hour. We also know of Everett divorce attorneys who charge more than $350 per hour. You can quickly verify this by calling two or three other local law firms and asking for their hourly rates.

How much will you charge in total attorney fees if my spouse (soon-to-be ex-spouse) and I already agree on all the terms of our divorce?

How much will you charge in total attorney fees if my spouse (soon-to-be ex-spouse) and I already agree on all the terms of our divorce? 

If you and your spouse agree on all the terms of your divorce case—like spousal support, division of property and debts, and child-related issues—you probably should NOT use our firm. Rather, we recommend contacting Peaceful Separations, an Everett-based agreed divorce service that uses paralegals to complete and submit routine agreed divorce forms. Peaceful Separations charges much less than a law firm (including ours), and Peaceful Separations tends to get the job done right. We do not recommend using any other agreed divorce services, especially the ones you might see advertised online. Other agreed divorce services appear to make a tremendous number of mistakes from what we encounter, and correcting those errors can be expensive or, in some cases, impossible. If Peaceful Separations cannot process an aspect of your case, they will probably tell you so. Come back to us in that situation.

Can you help with parts of my case rather than representing me fully?

Can you help with parts of my case rather than representing me fully? 

Yes, oftentimes we represent clients on an “unbundled” basis rather than representing them in all aspects of their cases. For example, a client might ask us to limit our representation to the review of an opposing party’s settlement offer, the drafting of a difficult document, or the preparation of written materials for a motion. We have a few rules for these types of unbundled services. First, we will not appear in court (orally argue a matter in the courtroom) if we have not prepared the written materials for the court appearance. Second, we will not appear at trial (represent a client in-person at trial) if we have not prepared the case for trial. Third, we reserve the right to refuse a request for unbundled legal work if we believe the unbundled services would jeopardize the client’s case.

How long will it take to get divorced?

How long will it take to get divorced? 

Statistics from several years ago suggest the average divorce takes about eleven months from start to finish. Some divorces resolve themselves faster, and others drag on much longer. The shortest divorces take 91 days. The required 90-day cooling off period ensures no divorce can finalize in less than 91-days.

Can I get the divorced faster by waiving the 90-day waiting period?

Can I get the divorced faster by waiving the 90-day waiting period? 

No, nobody can waive the 90-day cooling off period. Parties cannot get divorced in Washington in less than 91 days—the 91st day being the first after expiration of the 90-day cooling off period.

What documents should I bring when I first meet with you at Genesis?

What documents should I bring when I first meet with you at Genesis? 

Bring the documents already filed in the case. If neither party has filed anything yet, then you probably do not need to bring any documentation to your first attorney-client meeting at Genesis Law Firm. On the other hand, if you have volumes of previously filed documents, you might want to speak with your Genesis attorney about which ones he or she would most want to read.

How much does a divorce usually cost in attorney fees?

How much does a divorce usually cost in attorney fees? 

We are not aware of any official statistics on how much the average divorce costs in attorney fees. At least one online source puts the national average at about $20,000 per party; but this is higher than the average at Genesis, where many of our cases cost between $1,500 and $10,000 in attorney fees per party. Of our cases costing upwards of $20,000 in attorney fees, the clients tend to be wealthy enough to afford more demanding litigation than the average case would warrant. The actual cost of a divorce depends largely on how rigorously each party chooses to litigate, the complexity of the case, and each attorney’s hourly rate. Sometimes our firm’s lower hourly rate results in significantly lower total attorney fees than another firm might charge. Other times our lower hourly rate allows us to work harder than opposing counsel while ultimately charging the same total fees as the opposition.

Is mediation required before going to trial?

Is mediation required before going to trial? 

Yes, you cannot proceed to a divorce trial without completing mediation.

If mediation is required, should my spouse and I schedule mediation at the beginning of the case?

If mediation is required, should my spouse and I schedule mediation at the beginning of the case? 

Ultimately the answer to this question depends on each client’s preference. When parties schedule mediation at the beginning of the divorce process, the likelihood of settlement appears to be around 50%. The likelihood of settlement increases to about 95% when the parties mediate at the end of their divorce case. Divorcing spouses typically elect to mediate at the end of their case—about a month before their scheduled trial date.

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Cost of Uncontested Divorce

Cost of Uncontested Divorce

We should begin by defining the term ‘uncontested’. In this context, uncontested means the parties (husband and wife) settle at the outset of the case. By way of further clarification, it does NOT simply mean the parties agree to a divorce. To be uncontested, the parties must reach agreement on EACH AND EVERY TERM AT THE DATE THE DIVORCE PETITION IS FILED. This is because an agreed petition (petition and joinder) delineates the terms of the settlement, such who receives what assets, who pays what debts, and the amount of alimony.

If the divorcing parties meet this criterion, they are in luck (in a sense)—an uncontested divorce is much less expensive than the contested variety. Most agreed divorce services in Washington State charge between $500 and $700 including the $300+ court filing fee. Our firm recommends an agreed divorce service named Peaceful Separations, which charges closer to $700 including the court filing fee. We recommend Peaceful Separations because they seem to do the job right, whereas many other agreed divorce services botch the paperwork in our experience. We have no affiliation with Peaceful Separations; this is our unbiased opinion.

Cost of Contested Divorce

Cost of Contested Divorce

As you probably gathered, contested divorces can be expensive—very expensive. The cost is also difficult to predict, because it depends on how hard each party fights. Many contested cases begin as skirmishes but end as wars. The harder the parties fight, the more hours the attorneys bill and the more expensive the case becomes.

A self-help website named Nolo performed a survey indicating the national average for a contested divorce is around $19,500 per party, largely in attorney fees. A similar Nolo survey for Washingtonians put the average around $13,400. But it seems Nolo’s methodology contained flaws that skewed their statistics downward by almost half, particularly for Washington. Nolo’s average for Washington did not filter out uncontested divorces, and the survey participants were all from Nolo’s self-help site (bargain hunters).

A 2006 Forbes article estimated most contested cases in the US cost between $15,000 and $30,000 per side. Adjusted for inflation, that means contested cases would presumably average between $17,600 and $35,300 in 2015. The halfway point of this range would be $26,450 per divorcee. Another Forbes article, published in 2015, estimated most contested divorces cost between $5,000 and $50,000 per person, putting the halfway point at $27,500.

Absent any more reputable statistical studies on contested divorce fees in the United States or Washington State, it appears Forbes’s guesswork may be the best information available.

If you want to predict the cost of representation in your case, you might begin by comparing your attorney’s hourly rate to the national average, which is around $250 for a divorce lawyer. You could, in turn, determine whether your case is likely to be on the high or low end of Forbes’ estimated range. For example, most divorce lawyers in the Puget Sound area charge between $250 and $350 per hour, which might make divorces in the Puget Sound slightly more costly than the national average.

You might further refine your prediction by factoring in the complexity of your anticipated case. If you and the opposing party have no dependent children together, your case will probably be less expensive. On the other hand, your case might be much more expensive if the parties are wealthy, with some well-to-do divorcees spending millions on attorney fees.

For more free articles, guides, and videos, we encourage you to visit our website’s ‘resources’ section located among the tabs at the top of this page. Or call us at 866-631-0028 to speak directly to one of our firm’s divorce lawyers. We pride ourselves in providing stellar representation at substantially lower hourly rates than other firms in the Puget Sound.

The federal child support guidelines: step-by-step


Your children have a legal right to financial support from both parents and you both have a legal responsibility
to provide this support. Those rights and responsibilities do not end with divorce or separation. The goal of this guide is to help you make child support decisions that will help ensure that your children continue to benefit from financial support from both of you after your separation or divorce. 



Ten Reasons Why You Should have a Solicitor To Handle Your Divorce –  

(and the pitfalls of a Do-It-Yourself Divorce)                          Free eGuide.


We are frequently asked about the value of having an expert solicitor to handle a divorce.
We have put together this useful guide which will answer many of your questions.
If you are contemplating a divorce or separation, and wondering whether you need a solicitor to assist you, then our guide will help you to decide.


             Click Here to Download your Free eGuide



Create A Plan

A solid plan of action takes into account your unique situation, and ensures the best outcome. Hassle Free understanding between both the spouces is the best for everyone concerned.

Execute Plan

Do-It-Yourself (DIY) or let Highclass Family Law advice and help you. With the childs welfare in mind, we will! try an out of court settlement.

Relax Peacefully

You’ll agree – Highclass ongoing advice and direction each step of the way was truly paralleled. Every day is a good day from now on!