At Lonsdale Avenue digital magazine we love to help people and get to know their stories. Taking the time to meet with people one-on-one to really dive into what makes them ‘tick’ and truly learn about their business, foundation, organization or similar.
In this article we sat down with Amalia Schön of Connect Family Law to learn about her legal practice here in North Vancouver. We first met her at a Marketing Workshop that we hosted at Simply Office beside the Lonsdale Quay; she attended to learn about Internet Marketing best practices, and we really enjoyed learning about her journey as a lawyer.
Originally, Amalia practiced at a family law firm in downtown Vancouver, but she has now focused her attention on the North Shore’s legal needs. Amalia took some time to speak with us so our readers can learn more about family law and her practice. Of course, most people will have some interaction with family law at various points in their lives, so the details of our interview are relevant to most.
What inspired you to become a family lawyer?
Passion! I was drawn to family law because I have a passion for helping people in difficult circumstances. As a family law lawyer, I have the opportunity to help people navigate one of the most challenging transitions in their lives. My job is to reduce conflict and ensure that my clients understand their options and are able to make informed decisions.
Through my work with separating spouses, I assist my clients with navigating one of the most challenging transitions of their lives. My ultimate goal is to resolve my clients’ disputes efficiently, cost-effectively and with minimal conflict. Instead of the traditional win-lose approach to resolving legal problems, I prefer to work cooperatively to preserve relationships. Wherever possible, I support my clients in accessing alternative dispute resolution processes such as Collaborative Law, negotiation and mediation. As a result of this approach, I am often able to achieve settlements for my clients without resorting to litigation.
I also work with people who are at the beginning of their relationship. I assist these clients with preparing marriage and cohabitation agreements so that they have predictability and certainty in their future.
What are some of the main initial questions you get asked?
There are so many questions people ask! Honestly, it varies so much because people’s circumstances vary. My clients frequently want to know if they are obligated to pay child or spousal support, and if so, how much. I also receive many questions about dividing property and debt and how parents will share their time with their children. Finally, people often want to know if they are required to go to court, or if there are other options (hint: yes, there are!).
Do you have any advice for people going through separation or divorce?
Most family law matters are best resolved out of court. Try to work cooperatively with your spouse and select an alternative dispute resolution process such as Collaborative law, negotiation or mediation. Going to court should be the last resort because it is extremely expensive and time-consuming; you have no control over the decisions a judge will make about your family. By resolving matters out of court, you retain control.
Select a lawyer who has a resolution focused approach and ideally has training in mediation or Collaborative law. Lawyers who have this type of training are more collaborative and resolution focused generally, even if mediation or the Collaborative process is not used.
With regards to the Collaborative law process, I highly recommend it to my clients. It is far less costly and much more efficient than court. In Collaborative law, both parties and their lawyers sign a formal contract whereby they agree that they won’t go to court, and everyone then works within this safe environment in a cooperative way. The Collaborative law model also involves the use of other professionals such as divorce coaches, financial experts and child specialists when needed. This model is particularly helpful where children are involved and the parents must maintain a co-parenting relationship .
What areas of expertise do you prefer to focus within?
My primary area of interest is alternative dispute resolution. I am qualified as both a Collaborative law lawyer and mediator. In my role as a Collaborative law lawyer, I assist families with resolving their separation entirely out of court. In my role as a mediator, I act as a neutral third party who assists separating spouses reach an agreement through a consensual, confidential and out-of-court process.
In your spare time, what kinds of activities do you get up too?
I am a nature lover! In my spare time I like to hike in the mountains of the North Shore and beyond. When I am not hiking, you will find me walking on the seawall in West Vancouver. I also love to travel and explore new cultures.
What do you enjoy most about operating your practice in North Vancouver?
What a better place to work than where I live, surrounded by the ocean and mountains! North Vancouver has a vibrant growing community, and it is good to keep it “local” as not everyone has the ability to make the long trip to downtown Vancouver to access legal services.
Is there anything else that you would like for our readers to know?
Absolutely! If you’re going through a separation, know that it will almost always be stressful, but it does not have to destroy your life or bankrupt you. We can provide you with options for resolving matters much more cooperatively, constructively and economically.
And if you’re starting a new relationship, absolutely have a lawyer draft a cohabitation or marriage agreement! You want to make sure your property is managed how you want it to be in the event you and your spouse separate.
If you have questions or would like assistance with your Family Law matters please visit the Connect Family Law website, call them at (604) 266-5004 or visit their North Vancouver office located at Suite 533 – 224 West Esplanade.