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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 05-04-2006, 03:52 PM
sasha1 sasha1 is offline
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Default Feeling "heard" in the system..

I was asked this question by Sean in another thread, and thought I'd start a new thread to answer. I'd like to hear what others have to say as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Divorcemanagement
Sasha1 -

What do you think it would take to give you a feeling that you have been heard by the system and validated as a result. I would ask that of anyone who feels similar to you as well


I've really struggled with this (in the 3 or so minutes I've had in the last two days to think about it ), and I don't have a firm, "This'll do it!" kind of answer. My ex is ridiculously irresponsible, a HUGE liar, an alcoholic, a criminal (DUIs), and I've recently found out that he's added cocaine to his life as well. At first, even my lawyer thought I was exaggerating when I said that my ex was drinking and driving again, and I was worried about the kids' safety when in his care. While drunk and beligerent, he'd actually blocked me into a room because I refused to argue with him and he only let me out when he realized I had the portable phone and was going to call the police. He'd threatened to "take" the kids by sneaking them out of the house while I slept. Our bank records showed that he'd been spending literally hundreds of dollars each month on drinking. Still, the lawyer told me that I was likely to be viewed as a vindictive ex if I were to bring up all of this. When I swore to the contents of my affidavit, I took it very seriously; there are no lies, no false or misleading statements at all... My ex's is filled with lies, most of which are easily proven. Yet I was continually told the court looks at us as equal parents with equal rights.

About 5 monthes into the process, my ex smashed his truck to oblivion, nearly killed himself doing it, and received a fourth impaired driving charge.. he was OVER three times the legal limit. He's managed to stall the courts on his criminal charges (which were laid 7 monthes ago now), and has his license back again. In Alberta, when an impaired driving charge is laid, the driver has 21 days licensed, then their license is automatically suspended for 3 monthes. The idea is that it provides incentive for the driver to deal with the courts faster, as the suspension time already 'served' will be deducted from the time the court orders, IF they deal with the charges in that 3 month period. Good idea, and probably effective in some cases, but not in this one. Instead of dealing with it, my ex delayed entering a plea, then failed to appear (resulting in a warrant), and then was able to enter a plea later without being arrested (court screw-up, apparently they overlooked the warrant). Now he's supposed to appear next month, BUT he's since had his license returned to him, because the three monthes have passed. And ironically, the fact that he's licensed again has prompted him to pursue access specifying that he can pick up and drop off the kids himself (as opposed to his parents, who were planning to do so after his charges were laid). And as I said, I now know, but can't prove, that he's cocaine-addicted as well. After all of that, the onus is STILL on me to show that he shouldn't have the same rights as all the NCP out there who aren't addicts and don't drink and drive. After the impaired charges were laid, my lawyer actually said to me, "OK, now you've got recent evidence of his drinking and driving, BUT, can you prove he would do that if he had the kids with him?"!

So what would help me to feel validated and heard by the system? Well, I'd sure like to hear a judge say that he's been a lousy parent and a lousy citizen and that he's got no credibility with the courts due to his lies and crimes. I'd like to see him in jail for this last impaired charge, and forced to go to in-house treatment instead of just showing up at an AA meeting now and then. I'd like to see the court force him to turn his tax refunds over to me to cover the $7500 arrears for support. I'd like the court to force him to pay the taxes on the property that I put the downpayment on, but is in his name, and then have him return it to me. I'd like the court to pull his licence for a minimum of 5 years, and I'd like the court to recognize that without continued proof of sobriety, he should not be trusted to care for the kids unsupervised. And yeah, I'd like spousal support. Not indefinitely, but as a means to allow me the time and the training I need to be able to become self-sufficient.

To do any of that means continuing in the legal system, and I don't know that I can. My lawyer just quit because I haven't been able to pay him much for the last 6 monthes, but I've been without any child or spousal support for the last 5. I can't get child tax credit for another few months because my ex hasn't done his taxes for several years, and they can't go off mine alone until July. Welfare won't help me at all, because they expect me to work outside the home, yet I can't afford the daycare, and certainly can't count on my ex to pay for any of it. Even if I could get the kids into daycare on the promise of paying when I start getting paycheques, after paying for daycare, I would likely bring home about $200/month, at best. Probably less, because my kids are in diapers, and I now hear daycare costs more for that. Nobody seems to be able to tell me if the last interim court order still applies, so that Maintenance Enforcement can start enforcing. Privacy laws keep the courts from telling me much and keep the doctors from disclosing any evidence they may have about the ex's drug habit, and the bank can't tell me anything about the status of the mortgage. For all I know, the kids and I could get the boot any day now because the bank is taking the house. The opposing lawyer has taken this opportunity to try to bully me into agreeing to my ex's demands, the lawyer who bailed out on me is pushing for payment, the government has just "discovered" that I still owe them over $10G from student loans which I thought were settled, and I'm just exhausted with this whole mess!

Whew! Just typing all that is depressing; sorry about the whine! I just don't know which way to go anymore; can you see why I feel like the system isn't paying attention?
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Old 05-04-2006, 06:47 PM
Divorcemanagement Divorcemanagement is offline
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This is an excellent post that offers people a greater understanding of the long term implications of the system and I believe serves as a reminder of the very real limitations as well. Everyone has a different interpretation of what it means to feel heard - some believe that seeing their former spouse held to account will bring that feeling, some see that it is very difficult to hold someone to account and they often feel like they are swinging in the breeze.

In my view, "that which you can live with" is the path that will set you free. If you can learn that the system cannot be all to everyone and begin to recognize that there are some things we simply cannot change, then it can help bring about acceptance of that fact and perhaps a sense of peace.

Last edited by Divorcemanagement; 05-04-2006 at 06:50 PM.
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Old 05-04-2006, 06:50 PM
Grace Grace is offline
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OMG, I'm exhausted from just reading it . Your last interim order should still be good. Interim orders are good until the "next" order which you don't have so use the most current one. Try and see what you can do to get that enforced and have his wages garnished. I wouldn't back down on letting him drive with the kids, way to stupid and dangerous, and with his history of DUI convictions I can't see a Judge agreeing to it either.

Anyway you would be eligible for Legal Aid? And where are you right now on the court front. Do you have any court dates approaching or are you kind of just sitting in limbo waiting? Remember when the grandparents took you to court you did great in representing yourself.
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Old 05-04-2006, 07:23 PM
Grace Grace is offline
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One more question Sasha1 do you think he will serve time in jail for his latest conviction? You may want to consider writing a victim impact statement to the judge in criminal court telling him/her how his charges have effected yours and the children's lives. That may offer you some comfort to have your voice heard.
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Old 05-04-2006, 07:30 PM
logicalvelocity logicalvelocity is offline
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Sasha,

To get an idea of a Judges views on an interim motion in light of where affidavits are filled with contradictions, whom should the Judge believe? It is very difficult to assess credibility in the interim. This is why Judges generally rule with caution at interim motions until they are opportune to hear the parties at a trial and facts are cross examined. The truth will prevail at trial.

At trial a judge won't forget the earlier contradictions and the Judge will be very thorough.
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Old 05-04-2006, 07:43 PM
sasha1 sasha1 is offline
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Hey, thanks for the support. I know there are a lot of people here that have far worse troubles than I do, and I don't normally just let fly like that, but I guess everyone's gotta let go now and then.

Grace, I had checked into Legal Aid when I was dealing with the grandparents, and they told me then that by having a lawyer for the case with my ex, I was automatically denied. So, strangely enough, now that my lawyer has quit, I am able to apply again; I have an appointment to see them next week. Legal Aid is not free here, but is much less expensive than a lawyer, and they won't expect payment until the case is done (or at least until I can get some support coming back in). Even when I do have to start paying, they'll work with me to arrange a payment I can manage, and won't charge me interest. Definitely a better option financially!

As for the court situation, we actually were supposed to be in court yesterday over access and "my" failure to provide financial disclosure. I submitted complete financial disclosure to my lawyer 8 months ago, but he didn't do anything with it for so long, it had to be updated, and then again the lawyer was too busy with "more pressing matters" (I'm guessing better paying clients), and wouldn't make time for me to swear to it so it could be sent. I got more demanding about it in my e-mails to him, and also asked him if there was any correspondance from the opposing lawyer that I hadn't gotten (my ex claimed he'd been requesting to see the kids and never got an answer several times). Also, I asked in my e-mail about the lack of support payment and whether I could register with MEP using the last court order. Turns out there was at least one time when a letter was sent that I never saw until now, but he wouldn't respond to my questions about the court order,and that's when he quit.

Anyway, I had e-mailed the other lawyer to ask for adjournment because I was without counsel, and that's when he started trying to get me to agree to my ex's demands, etc. In the end, I told him I wasn't going to negotiate with him, and if he wouldn't agree to adjourn, I'd see him in court and ask the judge for an adjournment. He backed down and agreed. Now we're supposed to be back in court in two weeks. My disclosure is all done and waiting to go still, but I haven't received my ex's disclosure yet. That's where we're sitting.

I've drafted a letter to send to my ex, asking him if he'll agree to formal mediation or family counselling of some sort to work out these issues. I'm pretty sure he won't agree, but it can't hurt to keep trying, I guess.

Any and all advise is appreciated!
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Old 05-04-2006, 07:52 PM
sasha1 sasha1 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grace
One more question Sasha1 do you think he will serve time in jail for his latest conviction? You may want to consider writing a victim impact statement to the judge in criminal court telling him/her how his charges have effected yours and the children's lives. That may offer you some comfort to have your voice heard.
Thank you, Grace; I have written to the prosecutor's office already, but they tell me that's all I can really do. I doubt he will serve much time, if any; I'm thinking he's going to try for a curative discharge. That would be ok, too, if he's forced to comply; for those that don't know, a curative discharge is where basically the driver admits to having a long-time drinking problem that they want to overcome, and if the judge grants it, the driver loses their license for the same amount of time, has to attend treatment, avoid alcohol altogether, report to a probation officer regularily, etc. If they do everything they are supposed to, at the end of the probation time, the charge will be removed from his record.
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Old 05-04-2006, 07:57 PM
sasha1 sasha1 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by logicalvelocity
Sasha,

To get an idea of a Judges views on an interim motion in light of where affidavits are filled with contradictions, whom should the Judge believe? It is very difficult to assess credibility in the interim. This is why Judges generally rule with caution at interim motions until they are opportune to hear the parties at a trial and facts are cross examined. The truth will prevail at trial.

At trial a judge won't forget the earlier contradictions and the Judge will be very thorough.
LV, I hear what you are saying, and there are times I think I'd like nothing better than to present to a judge; I'm certain I can prove enough lies in my ex's affidavits that the judge would pay attention, and I haven't lied at all, so I have nothing to worry about there! I guess it's just a matter of the back and forth in between that's really tough. We've been at this for almost a year, my legal fees have topped $10,000, and we've not even gotten through the disclosure phase?! Given that, even with Legal Aid, I have to wonder what the end cost will be, when you consider all the pre-trial conferences, etc. But yes, I believe I would do well at a trial just on the merits and my ex's lies being proved.
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Old 05-05-2006, 01:02 AM
workingthruit workingthruit is offline
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I know all too well what it's like to read horrible lies and complete misrepresentations of the facts in court documents. In our case, in the end, it didn't make any difference to the end result. But I would really like to see anything that is not material to the case be stricken from the record. That might cut out some of the 'noise' and allow the important points to stand out.

At the very least, every judge should question both parties ... during days on end of sitting in family court during motion after motion, it has occured to me that perhaps the unrepresented actually get a better chance - they get to talk directly to the judge - and are rarely reprimanded for doing things 'wrong' ... whereas those with lawyers have to sit by as observers in their own life, and hope their lawyer gets the facts straight, and imparts the same sense of urgency or level of emotion they would themselves.

It's a tricky situation, and there is no doubt in my mind that any changes that would allow people to be heard would also slow down an already dead-still system.
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Old 05-05-2006, 01:10 AM
sasha1 sasha1 is offline
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Thanks, workingthruit; I appreciate your empathy. This thread wasn't meant to be all about my sob story, and yet I seem to be having a tough time deciding just what it would take to feel that I've been heard and validated. Actually, when he got that last impaired driving charge, I felt validated.. but then the lawyer asked what proof I had that he'd drive drunk with the kids. I told him I had none, and thank God for it! I wasn't prepared to wait for the evidence, and neither should the courts.
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