Our operations have changed due to COVID-19. Read how here.
Call us now  613-228-0786

About

Expert Family Law Lawyer/Mediator/Collaborative Practitioner, with over 30 years of experience in Family Law.
My focus is on Family Dispute Resolution Processes.

My Story

In 1984 I graduated from Carleton University in Ottawa with a Bachelor of Arts degree with Distinction. Since my call to the Bar in 1991, I have practiced exclusively in the area of Family Law.

While my practice was initially litigation oriented, in 2001 I began focusing my attention on alternative dispute resolution approaches to Family Law. After completing my Certification as a Third Party Neutral from the Canadian Institute for Conflict Resolution in 2001 and subsequent training in Family Mediation, I began my Family Mediation Practice in 2004. I have been an Accredited Family Law Mediator since 2007.

In 2003 I received my training in Collaborative Family Law and continue to practice as a panelist for the Ottawa Collaborative Law Network.

Services

Negotiation

While negotiations is an integral part of every dispute resolution process, often solicitor negotiations without the use of other processes will lead to resolution of all issues. Where there are fairly complex financial and parenting issues, I generally find that clients benefit financially and emotionally from using negotiations in the context of mediation or collaborative family law.

If you hire me as your lawyer and collaborative family law is not feasible, I will almost always recommend you attend mediation with another professional mediator in order to minimize your legal fees. In doing so, I will take a back seat role and assist only with questions or concerns that arise in between mediation sessions and in providing independent legal advice on any agreements reached in mediation. Occasionally but rarely, where complex issues arise mediators may request the presence of lawyers at one or more mediation sessions.

I recognize that mediation is not always appropriate or desirable and can assist you in determining your specific process needs.

Mediation Services

As a mediator, I act as a neutral third party facilitator to assist you and your spouse in addressing and resolving the issues surrounding your separation.

My experience tells me that mediation is often the most appropriate dispute resolution process. The benefits of mediation include:

  • The parties, together, come to a resolution on some or all issues. This promotes greater control in decisions that affect your life and the lives of your children.
  • It is much less costly than litigation and generally much less costly than solicitor negotiations.
  • The parties learn communication skills during mediation that will assist in future communications relating to the children. This helps to reduce conflict which will benefit the children.
  • Mediation allows the parties to explore their mutual interests and often develop creative options that meet those interests. Stated differently, mediation allows parties to think and act outside "the box" of legal remedies.
  • Research shows that compliance with mediated agreements is higher than with court imposed judgements, resulting in a lower rate of post-divorce litigation.
  • Mediation is confidential, allowing you to avoid public disclosure of personal problems.


  • I am an Accredited Family Mediator (Acc. F.M.) through the Ontario Association for Family Mediation and have practiced Family Mediation for approximately 8 years.

    I am also certified with the Canadian Institute for Conflict Resolution where I completed an intensive 160 hour program in alternative dispute resolution.

    I have been an active member of OAFM Ottawa for many years, having served on the Board of Directors, including as President and Vice President, for the past 7 consecutive years.

    Collaborative Family Law

    With CFL, the parties and lawyers are focused on cooperative and collaborative negotiations. One of the keys to success of the CFL process is that the parties and lawyers all endorse, literally and figuratively, a contract not to litigate. CFL lawyers are specially trained family law lawyers. Negotiations generally transpire in 4-way meetings in a controlled, safe, and respectful setting.

    Like mediation, Collaborative Family uses interest based negotiations with the aim of finding resolutions that meet the mutual goals of the parties. Like mediation, the collaborative process allows parties to think and implement solutions “outside the box”.

    Respecting certain ground rules in the collaborative process allows communication to flow with a positive ‘forward’ thinking focus, leading to more productive negotiations as opposed to the traditional adversarial approach of lawyers.

    Litigation Services

    While litigation is generally the most costly family law resolution process, unfortunately it is sometimes a necessity. My litigation experience spans 20 years, and through that time I have seen the very painful effects it can have on the parties. Even where commencement of litigation is necessary, I will do my utmost to continue to work towards resolution at the very earliest opportunity. I will possibly recommend commencing court proceedings in the following circumstances:

  • Your children are in danger either emotionally or physically
  • Your spouse is not providing appropriate financial disclosure
  • Your spouse is refusing to negotiate or refusing to do so in good faith
  • The dynamics of your relationship is not conducive to other dispute resolution options.
  • Cohabitation & Marriage Contracts

    It is strongly advised that partners who plan to cohabit or marry seek legal advice and potentially enter into a contract to determine rights and obligations upon separation or death. This is particularly true if this is not a first marriage or common law relationship and if either party has significant assets.

    The matrimonial home is given very special treatment for married couples under the Ontario Family Law Act. If you are planning to move into a home owned by you or your fiancé before or after your wedding, there are significant implications to your property rights upon marriage breakdown or death.

    In Ontario, the Family Law Act gives parties the right to enter into a contract that governs their property and spousal support rights upon breakdown of the relationship which will override the rights and obligations under the Ontario Family Law Act or Federal Divorce Act.

    There are certain issues that cannot be addressed in a marriage or cohabitation agreement including parenting rights and, for married couples, rights relating to possession, financing or sale of the matrimonial home.

    Terms of a marriage or cohabitation agreement can be negotiated through mediation or solicitor negotiation. In either case, disclosure and independent legal advice are crucial to ensure the agreement is not vulnerable to future attempts to set the agreement aside.

    Our Team

    Barbara Cohen

    barb@cohenfamilylaw.ca

    University of Ottawa : Doctor of Law (J.D.)
    Carleton University : B.A. (with Distinction) - Human Resources Management/Personnel Administration, General

    In 1984 I graduated from Carleton University in Ottawa with a Bachelor of Arts degree with Distinction. Since my call to the Bar in 1991, I have practiced exclusively in the area of Family Law.

    While my practice was initially litigation oriented, in 2001 I began focusing my attention on alternative dispute resolution approaches to Family Law. After completing my Certification as a Third Party Neutral from the Canadian Institute for Conflict Resolution in 2001 and subsequent training in Family Mediation, I began my Family Mediation Practice in 2004. I have been an Accredited Family Law Mediator since 2007.

    In 2003 I received my training in Collaborative Family Law and continue to practice as a panelist for the Ottawa Collaborative Law Network.

    Volunteer Experience
  • President – Ontario Association of Family Mediators (OAFM) - Ottawa Chapter
  • Vice President/Treasurer/Membership - Ontario Association of Family Mediators - (OAFM) - Ottawa Chapter
  • Ontario Superior Court of Justice - Presenter of "Experiencing Separation" course
  • CHIN Radio - chaired production of 12 part radio series on Family Law Dispute Resolution
  • CHIN Radio - Numerous guest appearances on CHIN Radio as Family Law/ADR expert
  • Participated in provincial panel of family law experts on Family Law Justice Reform Project
  • Carleton University – guest lecturer for Women and the Law course
  • Stephanie Szczesniak

    stephanie@cohenfamilylaw.ca

    Dalhousie University : Bachelor of Laws (LLB) (Dean's List)
    MicGill University : B.A. (with Distinction) - Political Science & Government

    Sandra Garvey

    sandra@cohenfamilylaw.ca

    Carleton University : Bachelor of Commerce (BComm)

    Sandra started working with Barbara in 2006, having received her Bachelor of Commerce in 1986. She was brought into the team not only for her expertise with numbers but her keen intelligence and sense of justice. Having left a lucrative career with Canada Post to raise her four children, Barbara was the lucky recipient of her new career path upon her return to the work force.

    The reality is, lawyers are not trained in accounting or to deal with the multitude of complexities in this field relating to Family Law. Adding Sandra to the team has been a godsend and we have learned a great deal from each other. Her expertise with numbers and her ability to apply this to her now extensive knowledge of Family Law has added a great service to clients at a much reduced cost.

    Clients are continually praising Sandra on “LawyerRatingz” for her passion, compassion and overall attention to detail that are so important to Family Law. Sandra is very much responsible for the success of Cohen Family Law – now Cohen Lyngseth.

    Amanda Dickerson

    amanda@cohenfamilylaw.ca

    Algonquin College : Law Clerk (3.89 GPA)
    Carleton University : Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) - Law

    Amanda began her employment at Cohen Lyngseth in 2017 as a new graduate. In 2015 she graduated from Carleton University with a Bachelor of Arts degree (Dean’s List) with a major in Law and in 2016 she obtained a Diploma in the accelerated Law Clerk program at Algonquin College. Amanda’s knowledge and experience in Family Law has grown substantially since she started at Cohen Lyngseth and she has become an invaluable member of the team. Over the years, she has had great success in connecting with clients when they are not sure how to proceed and will always take the time to explain our various services and discuss your family law needs.

    Testimonials

    Read from some of our happy customers.

    Legal Resources

    Seperation Roadmap to Success Brochure

    The Seperation Roadmap to Success was developed in part by Barb Cohen, and is widely used by lawyers throughout Ottawa.

    It is endorsed by Family Services Ottawa, Ontario Association of Family Mediation, and Collaborative Practice Ottawa.

    Chin Radio: Dispute Resolution

    I chaired and participated in the CHIN radio 12 part series on dispute resolution in family law:

    • Listen to Show 1
    • Listen to Show 7: Part 1
    • Listen to Show 7: Part 2
    • Listen to Show 12: Part 1
    • Listen to Show 12: Part 2
    • Listen to Show 13: Part 1
    • Listen to Show 13: Part 2

    Useful Links

    Template Documents

    COVID-19

    As a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, in order to ensure safety, we are currently operating all our regular services, though secure video and teleconferencing.

    Contact

    Our Address

    90 Centrepointe Drive, Nepean, Ottawa K2G 6B1

    Email Us

    amanda@cohenfamilylaw.ca
    (or use form below)

    Call Us

    613-228-0786

    613-228-1666 (fax)

    Loading
    Your message has been sent. Thank you!

    Business Hours

    Monday: 9am - 5pm
    Tuesday: 9am - 5pm
    Wednesday: 9am - 5pm
    Thursday: 9am - 5pm
    Friday: 9am - 4pm
    Saturday: 9am - 5pm
    Sunday: 9am - 5pm