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Divorce Support This forum is for discussing the emotional aspects of divorce: stress, anger, betrayal of trust and more.

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Old 07-20-2015, 09:22 AM
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Default collaborative law fails

I have a collaborative lawyer and I'm thinking of firing him and hiring a more aggressive lawyer.

From the outset, I wanted a collaborative lawyer because I felt it was the best way to go. However when dealing with an ex who provides excuse after excuse, won't provide financial disclosure, won't finalize access - ie refuses to "give" access time in the summer (we have a temp order and had hoped a final agreement would have been in place before the summer)

In this kind of situation a collaborative lawyer becomes a 300/hr paperweight. Ex has a LAO lawyer so infinitely deep pockets to continue to dither.

Ex has cancelled two of my parenting weekends with my daughter and refuses make-up dates.

Ex went ape-hit on me when d15 told me that she was doing summer vacation in the area where my grandparents used to live and I gave her a list of places and things I used to do out there. She didn't like how d15 wanted to change her agenda based on a conversation with me.

My lawyers approach has been to bend the knee and ask me to acquiesce to the ex's requests and not make her mad.

Each time we talk he talks a big game. After our last mediation session was cancelled, he was to issue a letter for complete disclosure. He didn't until I contacted him last week about cancelling next week's session due to lack of disclosure.

Lawyer wants to proceed with this session without explanation, though it might be related to me chewing out his managing partner for his lack of diligence and questionable invoices. The firm ended up eating 10 hours of work based on that conversation.
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Old 07-20-2015, 09:33 AM
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Family law process is incredibly slow. If you have a good source of income you can expect the law firm to try to maximize their income off of you. Just good business.

I would suggest that you ask your lawyer to prepare a plan of action going forward for your review and approval. Perhaps ask for them to indicate estimated time period for each item. If you do not agree with the overall direction your lawyer plans for your case you can then make the decision, fully informed, to accept or dismiss the lawyer.

Keep in mind that you will have to pay money to a new lawyer for them to get up-to-speed on your situation. Hopefully you have received a copy of everything that was received and went out of that law firm on your behalf.

I had a collaborative lawyer and he was excellent and moved things along. In my province you can't simply refer to yourself as a "collaborative lawyer" - you have to receive certification and you are then a member in a registered organization of collaborative lawyers I believe.

I have heard of many lawyers who simply refuse to go to court. Now that would be a disaster IMO.

Also keep in mind that in some areas of the country, courts operate on a somewhat skeleton/reduced staff basis for summer months and it can be difficult to get court time.
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Old 07-20-2015, 03:39 PM
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Fire your lawyer. The legal aid lawyer will just draw it out and waste your money. If she wasn't denying acces then it's a tougher call but that tells me "red flag". Time to change tact.

You either get a pit bull or self-rep...
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Old 07-20-2015, 03:55 PM
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Thanks Arabian. I hadn't thought about the ramp up time, nor the certification process. I don't think it's a requirement in ontario.

We currently are in front of LAO mediation. So LAO picks up my lawyers tab for the session. I just pay for him to send the same request to opposing counsel, and reintroduce himself to my ex's merry go round of lawyers, plus the original paperwork that we've submitted. I'm not sure if LAO is subject to the same holiday levels of staffing.

To me the challenge is the process is unnecessarily slow. I've wanted mediation since December. The ex equivocates on a lot of our issues. This should be Re solvable in a few hours. My lawyer refuses to put forward an offer to settle as she says that the ex needs a shot of common sense first. Based on his conversations with her prior to her getting a lawyer, she does not seem to want to settle and wants a windfall.

In my latest email from my ex she just admitted that her LAO lawyer has instructed her to deny access. Not sure if she is blame shifting, but if it's true I'm not impressed. Also my recent denied visit seemed to be more of a reaction to what I told d15 (see start of thread)

The times I've suggested courses of action from here my lawyer comes back saying that I'm being too aggressive. I think the lawyer can't deviate from his collaborative path, as it would hurt his reputation to make an aggressive move.

Still when the other party won't come to the table what do you do? D15 missed out on meeting her great grandparents. My own father's health is now quite poor and has deteriorated a lot this year. It's one of the reasons why I hoped to have this resolved by now.

Thanks!
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Old 07-20-2015, 04:17 PM
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Don't know how it works where you are, but in my province, once a lawyer has committed to a collaborative process with a client, s/he cannot change course and start litigating the matter. This is to prevent participants in collaborative divorces from saying "screw you, I'm going to court!" at the first obstacle. It's not just a question of your lawyer's reputation that he doesn't want to be aggressive, he may be prohibited from being aggressive once the collaborative process has begun.

Unfortunately, the collaborative process only works if both parties are committed to it. If one party is being obstructive and refusing to compromise, your only options are to keep spending money on collaborative sessions or end the collaborative process and start with a different lawyer (or self-rep).

I took the collaborative route because I really liked the idea of being non-adversarial, but it ran aground pretty quickly with the scenario above. If I were doing it over, I don't think I'd go with a collaborative lawyer.
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Old 07-20-2015, 09:27 PM
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In my situation once we finished the JDR (binding judicial dispute resolution) with the judge we were pronounced divorced. Had my ex opted out of the agreed-upon binding JDR we would have been free to proceed to trial. Within a few months of our divorce my ex started litigation and it continued on until last year (I hope we are taking a break from it for a while).

In my situation it was imperative that my lawyer have the acumen, experience and confidence to go from the collaborative process into the courtroom.

I suspect the OP on this thread is no dummy and once he confronts his lawyer about the plan of action he will decide to retain a new lawyer. Paying good money for nothing doesn't make sense.

Lawyer works for you.
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Old 07-26-2015, 10:31 PM
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+1 to Headwaters.

My lawyer will be fired shortly.

For the last three months, he has told me that my position for support, was reasonable at a net cost to me of about $30,000 ignoring time value of money. I had asked repeatedly asked if my expecatations were reasonable, and was consistently told "Yes." He went on in one email to say that my "ex needs someone to manager her expectations"

Come LAO mediation, my ex's offer with a cost $110,000 to me was suddenly a really good deal, and I should take the offer and run out the door. I walked out the door and seriously thought about jumping in front of a passing Waterloo Region Transit bus for a 1/2 second.

First of all, I thought mediation was supposed to be a back and forth not a here's one deal.
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Old 07-27-2015, 06:20 PM
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Maybe you can tell us a little bit about your situation. Maybe you have already on another thread.

How long were you married? Does or Did your wife work?
Sounds like one daughter 15 years old?
How much do you make vs your wife?

It sounds like it was a long term marriage so the hard thing to swallow was if your wife was a stay at home most of that time then you will be making a big payment.

Child support won't be much of an issue as it sounds like there is only a few years left to go. So the bigger question will be division of assets and spousal support.

It will come down to whether your wife will be able to find work again and/or if she "sacrificed" for the marriage.
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Old 07-28-2015, 05:45 PM
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Hi headwaters

OK. I was never married to the ex. Lived with her for 6 months, total relationship was 3 years long.

When she ended the relationship in 1999 we were both making 40k. She may have been in the early states of pregnancy as we split in January. I did not receive any notice of birth. DNA after she filed for CS proved I'm the father.

Fast forward - she now works for CAS as a foster parent. On line 150 she shows 15-20k income and I make low six figures. She won't disclose her other cash flow.

She has two degrees - a university one in literature, and a college degree in photography. When together she did a lot of family photography as a side cash business.

So next thing her financials show that she spends like a person making six figures, with no debt. So it doesn't make sense. D15 has indicated that the ex married and divorced another dude, and had a kid with him too.

So she has 3 kids living with her and my wife and I have three kids together. Hence CS is an issue.

Ex wants full table CS, and post secondary in a 50-50 split. If I add up everything she wants it costs out to over 100k over 7 years.

I went to a non-collaborative lawyer for a second opinion. He claims he could deliver results through intimidation and coercion.
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Old 07-28-2015, 06:53 PM
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Why do you not just pay the table amount of CS and put away a little each month to cover a 1/3 of university. From all I have read voth here and on other family law sites it is usual for each party to be expected to pay 1/3 of the cost.

Then put you ex on ignore and get on with your own life.
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