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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 07-19-2011, 06:05 PM
sjandme sjandme is offline
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Question How to get a lawyer.... I want to escape with my kids

I wasn't sure if I should put this here or in the financial forum.

Since March 2011, I have been seeking a lawyer. There is abuse involved in my case and I have no income at present (stay at home mom with a 7 and 9 year old, studying at a local college for retraining).

I was sent to a lawyer with the initial cost covered - for a one hour consult (it could have been 2). Unfortunately, as I have $50K in an RRSP I do not qualify for legal aid. Now via loans I have access to more money temporarily.

The first lawyer I met with, before being rejected by legal aid, didn't impress me much. I wasn't keen on paying her $200 per hour. I tried getting a lawyer for $100 per hour under a special program but was advised by a counsellor to stick with lawyers who had special training on abuse cases.

So I cancelled that appointment which I had waited for for several weeks.

Then I found a lawyer for $90 per hour who asked me to fill our form 13.1 (which was tricky to do without my husband's knowledge - he is underemployed - i.e. home all the time almost). After approx. two weeks I did it - very proud of myself for all that sleuthing, calculating, etc.

Unfortunately over two months since I have yet to speak with her again directly. At least I didn't meet her and pay any fees.

So last week I went to another lawyer (with my kids now in tow as school is out and I am very isolated with only one friend in the city and no family). For about $300 she spent 90 minutes telling me what I already know or things that are not relavant to my case.

Here is where I am "at" now....

I have found a cheap place to live in August and desperately wish to move. I have signed a lease. (Incidentally, my husband is screaming at me to get out, get out on a regular basis.) But I want some legal protection - the kids are with me - I don't want him to suddenly decide that they are pawns in a power play.

What do you suggest? Should I try to file the correct forms myself for $500 or pay someone thousands of dollars to fight this for me? (I was told $1,000 just to get the law firm to do the filing for me.)

Am I missing something? Should I just leave? Or am I risking a lot - for example a judge's misplaced ire - down the road. (Apparently my husband could legally seize the kids the next chance he gets.)

Should I pay every dime I can for an expensive lawyer? I am VERY confused.

I am 49 and don't expect to ever earn much money b/w now and old age. So I'd like to hold on to whatever modest assets I have - if possible.

I would have had half of our house (value $450K easy, no mortgage) but in the meantime my husband has seized about $190K on a loc against the house. It was set up several years ago but more or less left alone.

One other thing, my husband is a fighter. In May he escaped a DUI charge. I know that he had been drinking at the time. I made him show me the liquor bottle after the police left our home on the day he was charged. He was temporarily contrite! I suppose he paid THAT lawyer at least $8 or $10K. He will do whatever he can to "win" - pretty much - even lose a lot of money - as long as I am brought down too.

PS I went to a Family Law in a Box seminar. It was helpful info. However, when I shared my situation in that arena I was advised to get a lawyer asap. I guess they think everyone has tens of thousands to pay out for good legal representation. I don't know how to proceed.

Can I get my rights protected without paying big bucks in the process? Maybe not if my spouse is one of those combative, irrational types? (Yes, there has been some physical blows along with years of verbal abuse.)
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Old 07-19-2011, 06:17 PM
Mess Mess is offline
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Many people separate for years and live just fine with no paperwork.

You want your "rights" protected. Which rights?

There is nothing to stop you from moving out. There is nothing to stop you from bringing the kids.

The law will stop you from moving a great distance with them, say to another town. If they are staying in the same school district there nothing to worry about.

You may not just keep the kids 24/7 and the father never sees them. You must offer him access; if you deny him access he will get it in court, and you will pay his costs. So yo have to offer a reasonable situation for him and the children to have time together.

It is better if you and he simply agree and can sign your own custody arrangement, amicable is always better than a conflict. If he is telling you to get out, then what does he expect the kids to do?

It's not possible to offer you any advice without knowing what your plans are for custody and access, because if you don't have a reasonable offer for him your troubles are 10x as bad. If he is in agreement with basic ideas, then you don't necessarily need a lawyer at all.

Of course you don't mention equalization of assets, CS, spousal support etc. So there is no way to know if you have a big fight or no fight at all.
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Old 07-19-2011, 09:11 PM
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blinkandimgone blinkandimgone is offline
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You say he's abusive but don't mention if it's towards you or both you and the kids?
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Old 07-19-2011, 11:30 PM
sjandme sjandme is offline
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Rights = half of house and any assets accumulated during marriage (not much). My husband thinks he has cheated me by taking the $190K loan against the house in late May of this year. I also want child support. I can't see spousal support happening. My husband was a high wage earner when we married. Since then he has floundered - so many failed attempts. I am his third wife. He has no other children.

In a high conflict relationship, the abuser is not likely to become suddenly reasonable.

Because he has been a rather poor parent who has a drinking problem I think limited access is best - as described in that Sandbanks book by Gary Neuman (I think that's it). For example, from Saturday a.m. to Sunday p.m. twice a month and then a few longer holidays (no more than 4 days in a row). I think 'holidays' and other special days can be alternated - if he cares. If he gets counselling and the kids show more willingness this could become extended to what is more conventional.
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Old 07-19-2011, 11:42 PM
sjandme sjandme is offline
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We walk on eggshells - it is a climate of chronic fear - low level and at times intensified dramatically. My husband has been pretty nasty overall. For example, when my daughter was about 4 she fell from her chair and smacked her head on the rim of a plant pot. She had a gash on her head bleeding. Not surprisingly she burst into tears. My husband's response was to scold her harshly. He didn't realize that she was bleeding. I tried to make him aware of this but somehow he couldn't back down from his anger. (Or maybe he had been drinking?!) To this day, he doesn't acknowlege that she was hurt. (The scar is still there. Also, I still have the teacher's reply to the note that I sent the next day. I had had misgivings about not going to the ER for possible stitches.)

He is more harsh with our son who has tried to defy him on several occasions - since he was about 4.

Most of the abuse is directed at me. Especially, the physical stuff - apart from pushing/shoving which I try to side step. This year, he hit me twice. Now I have to take extra measures to avoid interacting with him when he is ranting and raving and insulting me (a daily event in recent months).
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Old 07-20-2011, 07:30 AM
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You have your mind all made up what the situation is going to be already. You're completely ready to assert yourself and get what you want. To be honest you don't come across as heavily abused.

I'm not saying your ex is a great guy, but you want to limit his life based on a label.

If all you need is a lawyer, call the Law Society of Upper Canada, they'll hook you up.
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