A collaborative option

The breakdown of a marriage, particularly when children are involved, can open the door to the complicated world of family law.

Stephanie Frolek, Family Law Mediator

Stephanie Frolek, Family Law Mediator

The breakdown of a marriage, particularly when children are involved, can open the door to the complicated world of family law.

“At present, most families needing to sort out their legal issues hire lawyers and proceed to slog their way through the various courts, provincial, Supreme and sometimes criminal, an exhausting, an expensive, slow and frustrating process that often ends without a satisfactory resolution, says mediator Stephanie Frolek, who recently opened her doors to a new practice. “There is plenty of talk about an entirely new approach to how family legal issues are resolved, including the implementation of unified courts, community tribunals, collaborative law and mediation. But the process of change is extremely slow and cumbersome.”

Frolek says the current court system is adversarial and she calls dealing with required paperwork daunting.

“When we look at family law, the lack of change to the legal system has created an environment that drains families of their time, energy and money,” she says, noting the whole community is affected by a breakdown in the family.

Introduced Nov. 24, 2011 the new Family Law Act has introduced some much-needed changes to legislation, however, most of it is not expected to come into effect until some time in 2013.

“One change that has been introduced is to promote co-operation between parties and ways of resolving problems without going to court,” Frolek says. “With more and more lawyers opting out of practising family law altogether, cuts to legal aid services and the growing burden on families and the judicial system, it is time for the implementation of new services to families that will help guide them through the separation process and minimize the need to resolve their issues in court.”

Having studied conflict resolution, the court system and family law issues at the Justice Institute, the longtime Salmon Arm resident is ready to help families resolve issues and navigate the court system.

Although unable to provide legal advice, Frolek says she has access to lawyers when such advice is needed.

“Initially people faced with separation, whether married or common-law, are primarily concerned with child custody and access, child and spousal support, and overall communication issues, and need information to help them plan for the future,” she says.

Frolek offers a sliding fee scale to make her service more accessible. She can be reached at 250-803-0017.

Salmon Arm Observer