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Civil Litigation, Family

Sullivan seeks efficient solutions in family law, civil litigation

Ottawa family and civil litigation lawyer Timothy N. Sullivan is a passionate advocate who works with clients to find efficient and economical solutions to legal problems.

“I like to think that I’m taking on some of the difficulty from clients so that they don’t have to worry about it, but I work closely with them to craft the best possible solution for them,” he tells “They have enough going on in their lives. I try to take some of the worry off their plate.”

Sullivan, principal at SullivanLaw, focuses on civil litigation and family law cases that involve the division of assets. 

His civil litigation work is primarily in business, such as lien and debt collection, as well as other commercial disputes. He also takes on what he refers to as personal actions, including personal injury cases. 

“These cases also involve a client who has a problem to solve and there are often answers to it, but it’s a matter of getting it fulfilled with the best outcome for the client,” he says. 

Sullivan, whose practice covers eastern and southern Ontario, speaks at legal conferences and is a member of several professional organizations, including the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association, and he was a member of The Advocates’ Society from 2003-2014. He is also a former director of the Thomas More Lawyers’ Guild of Ottawa. 

After growing up in Timmins, Ont., he attended Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo where he graduated with a bachelor of arts. During his studies there, he took a political science course which included constitutional law and Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms — and that sparked an interest in law.

“I hadn’t thought much about law before, except to decide it wasn’t for me,” he recalls. “My father was a lawyer but he didn’t particularly encourage me or dissuade me to go into the field."

However, Sullivan became more attracted to the field of law when he saw the way it presented a framework to solve a problem.

“It started to make more sense to me as a profession – something I could be interested in for the rest of my career,” he says. 

After completing his undergraduate degree, Sullivan did a stint on Parliament Hill, where his exposure to statutory and constitutional law furthered a growing interest in the area. 

He returned to Laurier and graduated with a master's degree, for which his major research paper was in part on how different avenues to the bench impacted judicial decision-making. That same year, he started law school and graduated in 2000 from the University of Windsor. 

He has never looked back. 

His first job was at Barker Willson in Perth, Ont., where nearly half of his practice was in family law and the rest was comprised of civil litigation, criminal and real estate law. Eventually, he focused primarily on family law and civil litigation at the firm. 

“I was immersed in family law fairly quickly and I enjoyed it,” he says. 

Sullivan soon became passionate about helping people who become involved in family law proceedings.

“These files involve good people who are in difficult circumstances,” he says. “And no one wants that for themselves or their family.”

One of the biggest challenges for separating couples is the division of assets they’ve accumulated together, he says. 

Sullivan says that while the Family Law Act sets out how the division of assets should take place, it’s not about the math in these cases.

“I think there should be a way to do that efficiently, with the least amount of legal expense and exposure to other problems,” he says. “My goal is to get a client through the process as smoothly and effectively as possible.”

Sullivan's interest in civil litigation cases comes from the same desire to help people through a difficult time in their lives. 

"The question is always about how can I help a client with their problem," he says. "Sometimes the best decision for them is not to sue but to walk away from the problem. It goes against my economic interest, but it may be the best choice for them. And my job is to implement those decisions, whatever they may be. That's what I find most interesting about what I do: Crafting solutions that make the most sense for each individual situation."

Whether the dispute is in family law or one that falls under the umbrella of civil litigation, Sullivan says all cases are about finding the best outcome for the particular client. 

"At the end of the day, it's really about getting clients an effective solution and having them leave my office happy with the work I did," he says.


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