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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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  #1  
Old 07-06-2010, 11:07 AM
KidsDad60 KidsDad60 is offline
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Default Considering Self representation

Hello Forum,
Apologies for the long post.
I am a single dad that is thinking of representing myself at my first case conference. I am one of those that don't qualify for legal aid and can't afford a lawyer. I am looking for some advice on responding to the initial clam that was served on me. I am aware of the procedures on forms and filing ( I have read all the info on the govnt web sites).

My situation is as follows:
- we were married for 16yrs with two children.
- my wife left the matrimonial home two years ago.(without a formal sep agreement)
-the kids stay with me and I do everything for them. No help from her.
- she does not help financially or otherwise.
- she visits periodically but on average about once every 3 weeks.
- she is currently unemplyed and on soc assistance.
- she has hired a legal aid lawyer.
- we live in Ontario.
- Equity in our home $130,000 with credit owing $80,000.(net $50000)
They have filed a claim in family court for:
- Sale of family home
- Spousal support
- Eq of net fam prop.(I owe $60000 on my cards, she owes $20000)
- Joint Custody (not for residing but decisions-not an issue with me)

I want to keep the house since it is vital to the kids stability!(friends, neighbours, schools,etc). I can't afford spousal support either, I have a low unstable income.
I would appreciate any advice on how to respond using form 10 and do I need a lawyer at this stage of the game?
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Old 07-06-2010, 11:35 AM
HammerDad HammerDad is offline
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I would call your local court house and see if you can make an appointment to see Duty Counsel or, if that isn't possible, when duty counsel is available for you to go in to see them.

Also see if your court house has a family law information centre (FLIC) office. They will provide free advice on a walk-in first come, first serve basis.
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Old 07-06-2010, 11:48 AM
KidsDad60 KidsDad60 is offline
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Hi Hammer, thank you for the quick response. I have been there and spoke to them a few times. They all say that they cannot give legal advice and wont comment on property issues. They will however help with procedural things. They recommend paying a lawyer for consultation which I am prepared to do but lawyers I've spoken to want to be retained and not just coach a clint for self representation.
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Old 07-06-2010, 11:49 AM
representingself representingself is offline
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Sounds to me like she is living in never-never land...

I am curious, is Ontario Works forcing her to make this application because she is receiving assistance?

There isn't a Judge out there who would be inclined to force you to sell the home out from under the children.... but I do think that you may have to take out a LOC or re-mortgage the house so that you can buy her out.

I am no expert on spousal support, but I think that I have read on this forum somewhere that it is difficult to obtain if a lot of time has passed.

Why is she on welfare? Is she employable? Does she have any education/skills?
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Old 07-06-2010, 11:56 AM
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NBDad NBDad is offline
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Is there any reason she cannot work? Did she work while the two of you were together? (ie. can she show that she was a SAHM while you went out and earned the family income? Did she sacrifice a possible career or anything?)
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Old 07-06-2010, 12:20 PM
KidsDad60 KidsDad60 is offline
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A number of lawyers suggested that OW is forcing her to claim SS.
Borrowing money to buy her out is ok. I want to be fair. Half the house belongs to her(according to the rules) so fair is fair. But she refuses to discuss a proper settlement( always ends in an argument). She used to work before and actually earned more than I did. She got laid off, collected EI and then proceeded to welfare. She is very capable altho no formal education. She is very fit and active and paints houses part-time.

BTW, FYI, I just spoke to legal aid and they informed me that they don't fund spousal support issues. Also, I dont qualify on a 'case basis' because the separation is more than 6 months old and there isn't an issue of domestic violence.
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Old 07-06-2010, 12:26 PM
KidsDad60 KidsDad60 is offline
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I basically am looking for advice on what arguments to make and to make sure that she abides by the rules and that I get what is entitled to me as well. e.g. child support, cpp, a proper eq of payments, etc. She racked up credit cards of about $20,000 two months prior to the separation thru gambling and is now claiming it as a liability on her financial statement that goes into the pool for equalization of property!. Not sure how to repond to this using the Form 10.
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Old 07-06-2010, 01:21 PM
HammerDad HammerDad is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KidsDad60 View Post
I basically am looking for advice on what arguments to make and to make sure that she abides by the rules and that I get what is entitled to me as well. e.g. child support, cpp, a proper eq of payments, etc. She racked up credit cards of about $20,000 two months prior to the separation thru gambling and is now claiming it as a liability on her financial statement that goes into the pool for equalization of property!. Not sure how to repond to this using the Form 10.
The gambling debts could be easy to ascertain if she did wire transfers online to gambling sites or if you can prove the withdrawls were at casinos.

With regards to the house, all you can do is get a valuation done and provide her with that. Once you know the fair market value you can offer to buy her out. She cannot force you to sell the house if you are willing to purchase her share.

Just keep making fair offers. Offer her 1/2 the house. As for the credit cards say you are willing to pay for 1/2 of anything that she can prove was for the benefit of the family. She should be able to obtain transaction histories from her card providers which you can both go through to determine what was personal and what was for the family. Same goes with your credit cards.

If she keeps saying "no, I want 1/2 the house, all of my credit card debt to be included, but none of yours" guess what a judge will say.....and who may get hammer with costs....they don't like people who act like this.
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Old 07-06-2010, 05:01 PM
KidsDad60 KidsDad60 is offline
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I had a really interesting convo with the summary advice lawyer for legal aid. She said that legal aid basically approves funding (after 6 months of separation) only when there is a child custody issue involving access. Thats how she got legal aid!. The funny thing is that the kids and I have been begging her to set up a schedule of regular visits!. I am not going to oppose the joint custody and word my response to encourage total and full access. Besides every child needs their mother and father so I won't want to prevent that access.

With regards to credit cards, it will be hard to prove that my cards were used only for family matters especially if i don't have statements from 2-4 years ago. I have her statements showing withdrawals at the local casino.
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Old 07-06-2010, 05:11 PM
HammerDad HammerDad is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KidsDad60 View Post
With regards to credit cards, it will be hard to prove that my cards were used only for family matters especially if i don't have statements from 2-4 years ago. I have her statements showing withdrawals at the local casino.
May not have to prove they were only for family matters. Just show a pattern of use that was family orientated. If you have a few statements or can get some old statements from your provider, it would help.
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