What We Do

Every family law file has two equally important components.

One component is about legal issues. As you can see from the list below (which is not exhaustive), there are many possible legal issues in any file. Indeed, family law can be very complex. In meeting with you we identify what particular legal issues your situation brings to the table.

The other component is just as important as the first and that is choosing the dispute resolution process that will best meet your needs. The dispute resolution process you choose will impact on every aspect of your file, including how long it will take to resolve, how much you can expect to spend on legal fees, how much control and input you will have over the outcome and to what degree you can minimize conflict and acrimony.

At Lyon Family Law, we assess both your particular legal issues, and your process options, so that we can help you achieve the most favourable outcome and take the best path to get there.


Cooperative Options:

Collaborative Family Law (CFL)

CFL requires a sincere commitment on the part of both spouses to work together with their respective and qualified collaborative family law lawyers to reach a mutually acceptable agreement. The parties and their lawyers attend four way meetings to negotiate a common and mutually acceptable resolution. The parties have the option of involving other professionals such as family law counselors and financial planners to assist in the process. The usual result of a successful CFL file is a separation agreement that each of the parties can live with as they move on with their lives. One of the benefits of this approach is that all four parties are committed to bringing about the best possible solution for all concerned. This option does not allow for either party to initiate court action while engaged in the CFL process. Indeed, should the CFL effort fail then the parties are required to retain new counsel as both CFL lawyers must agree not to represent their respective clients in court should the matter be litigated. If you are interested in more information about this dispute resolution process then please visit the web site at www.collaborative-law.ca.


This is an excellent option where both parties are willing to sit down and discuss their respective difficulties in an open, honest and forthright manner with a qualified family law mediator. The goal is the same as with the collaborative family law process and that is to achieve an equitable and fair settlement of the issues raised in your particular situation. The parties usually, but not always, meet with a mediator without their respective lawyers being present at the mediation. Therefore, for most of this process you are sharing the cost of only one professional. You would still be required to retain your own lawyer to provide independent legal advice. This would ensure that both you and your spouse knew exactly what you were agreeing to at the end of the day. You may wish to visit the Ontario Association of Family Mediation website at www.oafm.on.ca or the Ottawa chapter at www.familymediationottawa.com.

Principled Negotiation

The parties employ objective criteria to assist in settling disputes. This can take the form of old fashion lawyer-to-lawyer negotiations. However, when engaged in principled negotiation lawyers will do more than swap their clients' positions, instead they will endeavour to focus on interests in order to assist in coming up with a mutually acceptable settlement between the parties.

Adversarial Options:


This process most closely resembles a court setting. The parties agree on the arbitrator -- or decision maker. Arbitration is like a private court, and so the process is confidential. Arbitration is often favoured over the court process for this reason, and also because it is less formal, provides greater flexibility and can be quicker. An arbitral award is binding on the parties and enforceable in the courts.

Litigation (absolute last resort)

Like arbitration, this option is completely adversarial. One side is pitted against the other in a battle fought through counsel. This option sees a Judge, make the decisions about what happens in YOUR case. This option is divisive, time-consuming, emotionally draining, public and very costly. Financial resources are hard won and litigation usually sees these scarce resources squandered for no good reason. Issues are determined by the Judge who applies the law, and there is virtually no room for creative "outside the box" solutions that might better suit your family's needs. Most people rightly take the position that this is the last dispute resolution option when all other forms of dispute resolution fail.

Appellate Work

Our advocacy doesn't stop at the trial level and, if necessary, we have the appellate experience needed to take your case to its rightful conclusion.


  • Custody & Access (parenting and decision-making)

  • Child Support

  • Special (section 7) expenses for children

  • Step-Children

  • Spousal Support

  • Determination/imputation of income

  • Income tax and other tax issues such as capital gains

  • Determination and valuation of assets and liabilities

  • Property division

  • Family owned businesses

  • Business Valuations

  • Family owned cottages

  • Stock options

  • Pensions

  • Severances

  • Inheritances/gifts

  • Pre-marriage property

  • Insurance/personal injury settlements

  • Marriage Contracts (Prenuptial Agreements)

  • Cohabitation Agreements

  • Separation Agreements

  • Common law separations

  • Contested divorces

  • Uncontested divorces

  • International cases

  • Enforcement of court orders

  • Trials

  • Appeals

  • Involvement of the Children's Aid Society