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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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Old 06-07-2010, 01:04 PM
Beaudoin Beaudoin is offline
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Default Update, Advice and Hope

Hi Everyone:

I don't know if many of you remember me, but I'd come on here once in a while to get advice and to share some thoughts, and I'm coming back on here today to offer you the things that I learned in my experience in the hope that it will give some of you some hope and useful advice.

First, my backgrounder: I'm a father of a boy who is 8 and I shared a little over 40% of the time with him. My issue was small. My ex and I had agreed to share my son equally, but the time of that equal time sharing was never agreed upon in writing. Verbally, we had reached an agreement, but every time I met a demand, she reneged on the agreement.

Things I Learned about Lawyers:
  • most of them just want your money. Most don't care how your case comes out in the wash. In the end, they still get paid;
  • like any industry, it's profit driven. Many WILL tell you what you want to hear within the limits of the law; Be very careful!
  • a lawyer's hourly rate is NOT indicative of the quality you're getting; my lawyer charges only $170/hr and she's the best I've seen, and I've been through plenty; I wouldn't bother paying more than $200 for an FL Lawyer;
  • if you can find one, try to get one that is going to believe in your cause. This makes a big difference;
  • court room experience is important. Ask your lawyer how often they are in court. If it's weekly, this is important because they will have built-up a rapport with the judges and they will adjust their style accordingly;
  • watch out for lawyer games. Don't let them send threatening letters without the backup action. Lawyers are big on this because this is where the gravy is.
  • don't hesitate to fire a lawyer that isn't providing results;
  • watch out how they are charging you. I was once charged for 20 mins @ $250/hr for one, short sentence email;
  • Opposing lawyers will attempt to intimidate you about how badly you can get screwed. They will send you the nastiest letters. Almost all of this is nothing more than strategy, and usually, it's not worth the paper it's written on. Don't let it intimidate you.

Things I learned in General:
  • Unfortunately, you need a lawyer. The quality out there is discouraging, but keep up your efforts to get one you like and that is working for you. Don't attempt to self represent. Most of you who do will get murdered in court. Judges hate self represented individuals;
  • If you don't have a case, don't take it to court. You're just waisting your money for nothing. You'll spend plenty of money, spread plenty of pain and gain nothing;
  • If it is your intent to share your children now or in the future, make sure that it's written in your agreement up-front, and take nothing less. If you can put a time frame in there the better. Never take anything less! The sooner the better;
  • Time sharing is important. Children should share in the benefit of having the time they need with both parents (provided that they are both good parents);
  • Work really hard for your own case. Do as much leg-work as you can yourself; some of the easy stuff will be better done by you than your lawyer;
  • ALWAYS stay focus on the children; any argument that you make, no matter what it is must tie into the children in some way. If it doesn't, don't even bring it up;
  • Document everything; try to do as much as you can in writing or by email;
  • Keep your receipts as only things that you can prove in a quantifying way is solid;
  • Always remain diplomatic and child focused; never put anything in writing that may hurt you in court;
  • Pay your child support (as much as you can), and if there is a dispute, recoup your costs later; this is hard to do if you're the paying parent and have to pay laywer fees;
  • Always offer mediation before going to court;
  • Put time limits on your offers;
  • If your mediations go unanswered or are refused, go to court; don't hesitate;
  • Try to bring your case to a resolution in one year. They way that you could do this is to ensure that you go to a Case Conference stage as soon as you can;
  • The Case Conference is a joke. The judges don't read much or any of your statements. They make off-the-cuff statements that have very little value. Take the judge's remarks with a grain of salt;
  • Judges are of much better quality at later stages (Settlement Conferences, Trials);
  • While in court, the judges ARE the law, and they rule with an iron fist. Conduct yourself accordingly. Never argue, never interrupt. They have a crazy ego, but they have all the power. Posture, tone of voice, carefully chosen words are important;
  • FL does have the child's best interest at heart; but what you think is best and how they measure what is best can be very different; many times, the best interest of the child is what you can prove;
  • Poor life style choices do not matter much to the court (ie: smoking, multiple sexual partners, etc);
  • FL uses the status quo as a starting point;
  • FL is still gender-biased against men. I hate to say this, but it's true, and that doesn't mean that men don't have a chance, it just means that it's going to be much harder for you if you're a dad to get a fair shake within the parameters of the law. From what I've seen, they use typical gender roles as a starting point, and work from there. The younger the children, the worse it is for guys who want to share in the upbringing of a child on an equal footing. As children get older, this bias is watered down or almost non-existant. Lawyers, btw, have no scruples using this to their advantage;
  • Both men and women are guilty of doing bad things in FL; I don't believe that one is better than the other;
  • The Law Society of Upper Canada protects it's lawyers; don't hope for much recourse from them.
  • FL is profit driven. There is a financial incentive for lawyers to keep cases going and support payments drive the parents. This is FL's fatal flaw. Mediation, in my opinion should be mandatory;

Things I Learned About Children:
  • Legal battles are hurtful for all involved, particularly the children; anyone who says it doesn't is flat-out in denial;
  • The time you spend with your children matters a great deal; they know what real love is and just talking to them brings great dividends;
  • There is a crucial stage in a child's life where parental bonding is critical; don't miss that chance!

If anyone would like to add to this list, I encourage you to do so!
Old 06-07-2010, 01:15 PM
billiechic billiechic is offline
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thanks! While I don't agree with everything, your knowledge is very insightful!
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