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What to do with my case?

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  • What to do with my case?

    My financial situation is getting pretty dire due to the long litigation with my ex. I am unable to pay the lawyer who is currently fielding calls for me and reviewing the endless correspondence from the other side the amount of money he wants to be retained for the file. He wants $20K to proceed and list himself as lawyer on record. He said he would take $10K to get ready for a pending motion at mid-end of April.

    My previous(still current lawyer on file) lawyer met me in february for what I thought was a regular meeting and told me he couldn't carry on with my file, he was ill and had to cut back. He said he had someone lined up in another city to take over my file, when I inquired as to this lawyers rate, he said he wouldn't know that information, all he knew is it was his ex wife's lawyer and he got screwed over by this lawyer, he was very good. With that giant revelation he proceeded to say bye as he piled up my file on a cart and excorted me to my car with three bankers boxes of my file that day!

    I met with the new lawyer who it turns out is $400/hr! The old lawyer must have thought that was funny! Anyway, I had to pay $420.00 for the initial consult and he made a few phone calls, no letters to the other side. In the span of a month, I have been billed $5000.00 by this lawyer. I haven't even signed a retainer agreement with him. He emailed me the account and he is one of those lawyers who bill for every phone call they make, even if they don't leave a message. My cell does not have voicemail and he calls and doesn't leave a message and I get charged for .20 hours so it costs $80.00 for every phone call even when I don't answer and no message is left!

    Also, he charges $80.00 per email for a few lines. He kept sending emails to the wrong address(not the one I gave on the consult day-their mistake) and he sends me a bill for the return to sender emails for his own mistake! They also charged me $520.00 for the intial consult fee that I already paid $420.00 for in cash(said for consultation on receipt they gave!) There is no record of the payment that I made that day on the account either.
    There are numerous discrepancies to the bill and it has been a rather uneventful month in the file! I cannot imagine what it would look like if I continued on with this lawyer. I am hoping another attorney with more reasonable fees that is local will be available and have an appt. this week for that.

    The problem is that there was a notice of questioning served upon the previous lawyer who I had(one who sent me away with the boxes) and this lawyer told me he couldn't be there and would send the ex's lawyer a letter to that effect. Well, it turns out he didn't do that! I guess he merely left a voicemail on the day saying that HE wouldn't be there as he was in court!

    As you can imagine, that is setting me up for real problems with the ex's lawyer who is furious as there isn't anytime for questioning before the motion.
    It makes me look bad. Also, based on a letter sent by the ex this week, my lawyer has been blabbing about our confidential conversations to the other side. It mentions my "other business" that I clearly told him not to say anything about and also says that I was going to do something(re:accounting) that I never said I would do. Furthermore, why is he talking so frankly with the other lawyer? I am being audited by CRA and he told the other lawyer this too! It is private information not something I told him to tell the other side.

    As you can see, the lawyer is not helping too much. If by chance this new lawyer that I am seeing cannot take it on, am I going to make the situation much worse if I represent myself? This motion may not be able to be adjourned and I could have to go that day. What if they do not adjourn it so that a lawyer can get caught up on the file?

    The ex's lawyer is really aggressive and carries on dramatically in court-usually to his benefit too! He would eat me alive if I tried to represent myself, I think.

    Any ideas would be appreciated.

  • #2

    Above is a US "how to" link to "basic" how to questions to give you some feel for how things are done. Mostly this is general legal trial stuff, but they have family law stuff too that can help. Like how to dress, how to act in front of a judge, etc.

    I am not that fluent with the step by step processes of Family law, but my understanding is that you can ask for the date to be changed, or adjourned if you can show a valid reason, and not having legal representation, due to one quitting on you and the other not helping.

    You'd have to contact both the court house and the other side either via registered letter or fax.
    If the other side agrees, they can ask for the adjournment in your absence upon your submission of documentation for the request. You’d have to have agreed on an alternate date for them to agree to do this though.

    If they disagree, you’ll have to get a date to get in front of a judge and formally ask for the adjournment and give your reasons. If you cannot attend you can have someone else attend on your behalf and I really don’t think that it needs to be lawyer.

    Maybe someone more fluent in the family law process can help.
    LV any suggestions?


    • #3
      Self Represented

      Get rid of your lawyer today. Notify him in writing so that the billing ends.
      After reading your thread I'd say your able to represent yourself. What you lack in experience will be made up by your knowledge of the case. A lawyer would need hours to fully understand all the issues and history. Usually, they have a large case load and they don't remember all the details. You will have the clearest voice for representing your position.

      File a notice of change in representation (Form 4) - serve it and file it. Your ex will be forced to refile the notice of questioning on you. Ignore it. I've represented myself at three motions. There is no questioning. For each motion that I was involved in I filed a motion and an affidavit. My ex filed an affidavit in respone (and a counter motion). Then we went to court and the judge listens to both sides. They can't force you to testify against yourself. Represent yourself at the motion. And remember - when the ex's lawyer gets furious, you know you've done something right. Don't be intimidated.

      Don't worry about the other lawyer's tactics in the court room. Judge are not fools that are persauded by antics. If your position is reasonable you will succeed. Good luck.


      • #4
        Thanks so much guys!

        I just checked back on this thread after I left the first message. I called the lawyer after I mustered up the courage to-after alot of hand-wringing and feeling like I was going to throw up. I told him that his bill was totally unacceptable and he got all bent out of shape and said I don't care about you paying the bill then! Ummm... can you put that in writing? lol Anyway, I told him how unacceptable it was to say one thing and do another with the questioning, leaving me holding the bag. He said he told me that would happen. I denied it as i was free for the day and would have been happy to show up there to avoid this! I said that before you tell the other side that I would foot the entire bill for missing the questioning and filing me with a non-attendance, maybe he should have run things by me first!!

        He refused to acknowledge his errors, and soldiered on saying that he wasn't the right "fit" for this file, trying to seem diplomatic and went on and on about replacements for him at other large law firms, as I apparently need multiple lawyers working on my case in his opinion. I told him I didn't have much luck with the last referral so don't bother, but he went on and on with his ideas.

        Anyway, he must have stewed all afternoon after I told him I was not retaining him and moving on. Just now I got a three page letter from him. He tries to backpedal and twist the situation so that he looks more competent. Also attached is an amended bill(not satisfactory).

        I really appreciate your advice about the reserving of the questioning robrjm! That sounds better! Also, if I represent myself can I question my ex? He was served with the notice too but since this last lawyer never even saw one document from my file, he couldn't possibly have questioned him even if he was available. I know it costs to reserve the transcript people etc.

        I was "on the fence" about the replacement right from the start but without any other options he was better than nothing. At least he took the immediate pressure off, but I think that you are right, it may be the best thing to try to go it alone. Perhaps I can pay a lawyer to help draft documents and such.

        Sigh, I am developing a real dislike for the legal system! lol


        • #5

          All the forms are pretty much straight forward and are available for download from the Ontario Courts Site.

          I think you have a few issues that you could easily gain relief in the interim by way of motion such as custody and child support for your child.



          • #6
            drafting documents

            I hired a lawyer to draft a document once. He asked me to write down what I wanted. So I wrote down what I wanted. The lawyer read it over and mailed it without editing a thing. I got a bill for $300. Do it yourself. All the forms and instructions are easily found on line.


            • #7
              Just thought I would give an update. I asked for an adjournment so that I could find a lawyer that would take over the mess but the other lawyer refused. So it went ahead with me unrepresented and I got totally raked over the coals. His lawyer ate me alive. Brutal outcome. The ex gets to pay his delinquent child support out of the proceeds from the house even though our debts together that need to be paid out of that exceed the amount held in trust. And also, to add insult to injury every month, the child support he owes me will come out of our joint money in trust. I understand that we each are entitled to half after our debts are paid but there will not be enough money after that!

              Also, the other lawyer moved to have all of my pleadings struck from my motion returnable that day. I didn't get anything I wanted, and costs were ordered against me of $5000 because I didn't have a lawyer and questioning didn't occur as per timelines agreed to by previous counsel. I am so disappointed and disillusioned with the legal system. It seems you have to fight dirty to get anywhere.


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