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Divorce & Family Law This forum is for discussing any of the legal issues involved in your divorce.

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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 09-16-2013, 09:57 PM
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Default Legal Aid's Wings?? What wings??

Well, I can confidently give the other side of the perspective of "Legal Aid's Wings".

Ex and I worked through all the issues and will be officially divorced in a few days.

My first lawyer I paid for myself. I went through $5,000 that was lent to me by a family member to send a few letters and prepare an application. That firm did alot of "hand holding" by telephone as they rang up the bill. I have to pay back that money to the relative. At the time I mistakenly thought that legal aid did not cover divorce/custody issues.

When I applied for legal aid, my financial situation was dire. I needed child support and was entitled to compensatory spousal support. I qualified for legal aid outright, no repayment plan, no violence issues.

In less than a year, my legal aid lawyer got the proper child support ordered and a reasonable/compromised amount of spousal. He went to a case conference and a settlement conference and worked our thorough and lengthy separation agreement.

Total cost to Legal Aid?? $1,717. Yes, for the whole thing.

I was given a detailed accounting of what was billed and why.

His work kept my family off of welfare. We weren't much above it but we made it. If I had collected welfare for my kids, it certainly would have been almost that PER MONTH! Yes, your tax dollars paid for my legal fees but it certainly saved thousands and thousands of dollars if I had not had legal representation.

The problem isn't Legal Aid in my mind.

It is very easy to simply blame the client.

I am so sick of hearing Legal Aid gives you wings. No it didn't. The problem lies with the LA lawyers who cannot handle things as quickly and professionally as mine did. It is the lawyers who try to suck the system and their clients dry that are the problem, not the ones who are working quickly and efficiently. My lawyer only dealt with the relevant issues and wasn't shy to tell me when things didn't matter. Of course high conflict people might try to drag things out but that is what conferences and motions are for.

I firmly believe that if the legal aid lawyers handled cases just as mine did, there would be very little abuse of the system.

Legal aid didn't give me wings. It preserved the rights of myself and my children.

So, thank you.

Last edited by SadAndTired; 09-16-2013 at 10:09 PM.
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Old 09-16-2013, 10:47 PM
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Originally Posted by SadAndTired View Post
Legal aid didn't give me wings. It preserved the rights of myself and my children....

Very well said. How refreshing to read a post from someone who has actually used Legal Aid for their divorce.

Congratulations on getting through everything!!!
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Old 09-17-2013, 01:27 AM
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Good for you on finally getting your divorce! What a relief that must be.

I also have a legal aid lawyer and yes, he has done honest work for me. My ex's lawyer - is the one dragging things out and 'upping' his bill. In Quebec, 'regular' lawyers accept legal aid clients. (no wings involved)
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Old 09-17-2013, 08:55 AM
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Nobody ever said that you couldn't win with legal aid. The problem is that you cannot win against legal aid.

If I was up against somebody with legal aid, I would just cave immediately. They can push trial, I cannot. They win, I lose, end of story.

Family law trials would definitely be shorter if one random side was given a gun and the right to shoot the other side if they didn't settle fast.
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Old 09-17-2013, 09:56 AM
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There are not only lawyers who abuse the LA system but some clients as well. It is a system that is only meant for those in need.

Claiming an abusive situation to check themselves and child into a woman's shelter. Claiming full household expenses (twice their income), obtaining LA and then moving back in with their bf refusing to claim total household income. Sure it gave her wings for a bit, but it took a little effort to get them clipped.
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Old 09-17-2013, 10:02 AM
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Exactly. Wow, good for you. Legal aid worked and seemed to have done an efficient job. It also sounds like your case was reasonably simple and mostly that your demands/needs were reasonable.

Take someone like me on the other hand. My salary is around 65k. However, "on consent" I am paying SS and CS which drops my salary below 28k, while my ex receives 20k from me plus another 12k in government aid.

Now let's say she gets it into her head to make trouble.

Guess who gets a free lawyer? Not me. On paper my salary is still 65k and I won't qualify for any kind of assistance, despite the fact that my net income is really close to minimum wage and my ex has more net income. The one with the higher net income in this case will be the one with the free lawyer.

So with my 28k per year I won't be able to keep a lawyer long enough to do a trial, probably not even a motion, while my ex will have those precious "wings" to force whatever issue she wants into court.

As just stated, legal aid may have problems, but the worst one is what I just stated. Facing off AGAINST legal aid is the problem, when you have already had all your money stripped away from you by FRO.

See the always popular example of WorkingDad.
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Old 09-17-2013, 10:20 AM
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From my situation, which was I am sure a narrow spectrum of the issues with legal aid.
My ex who refused to work while her and her boyfriend where commiting welfare fraud and sat home all day got legal aid, even though she had all the time in the world to do legal research, attend court dates and so on. While I was not making alot of money at the time but just above legal aid threshold, I could not get a lawyer and struggled to get even an hour here and there of legal advice. While working 12-14 hour days and paying off all our joint debt to save my credit rating, and every day in court would cost me financially and also caused job instability, caused me to get passed up for promotions and a huge list of problems.
Meanwhile she had me at her mercy, it was nothing for her to spend a day in court and just meant missing daytime tv shows.
Though when I was younger my parents when through a nasty divorce, and if my mother had not had a legal aid lawyer I feel that she would not have been able to keep her head above water (this was in the 80s so no online forums and so forth to research). While their situation was vastly different it helps me understand that there are 2 sides to everything. The system was made to protect the vulnerable, but can be exploited.
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Old 09-17-2013, 01:01 PM
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Regarding Legal Aid and people's income to receive it....

If one pays SS they can claim 100% of that on their income tax return, drastically reducing their tax payable and/or in some cases set themselves up for a nice tax refund.

If one receives SS they must also claim 100% of the money but instead have to pay taxes on it. SS is not employment income and you cannot pay into CPP. This can have a significant impact down the road when one collects CPP.

So do the math. If someone makes 65k a year, pays 20k in SS as indicated by FFF (or was the 20k a combination of SS and CS? - don't know as people tend to exaggerate the amount of SS they actually pay). Tax on a 65 k salary is what around 12k without deductions? The payor still pays into CPP. A net salary of 37k vs. the recipient's net income (20k SS + 12k in "government aid" = 32k). Someone please point out if I have it wrong.

It is so very easy to exaggerate and gloss over facts. That's all I'm saying.

Last edited by arabian; 09-17-2013 at 01:12 PM.
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Old 09-17-2013, 03:43 PM
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The two of you are right - much easier and dramatic to make generalized statements than to deal with facts. That way you can also avoid an intelligent exchange of ideas and opinions. I should have known better and I stand corrected.
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Old 09-18-2013, 04:19 PM
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If I was up against somebody with legal aid, I would just cave immediately. They can push trial, I cannot. They win, I lose, end of story.
Legal aid is not a lottery ticket.

The legal aid lawyer will receive a set number of hours to work on the case. This will be substantially below what is required. To work beyond the set amount, they require discretionary increases from the local district office, along with increases to undertake specific actions (a motion, a trial, etc).

The purse strings are much tighter than they were 5-10 years ago due to past use of the system as unlimited legal resources.
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