Legal Resource Guide

2012

Issue link: http://digital.canadianlawyermag.com/i/51536

Contents of this Issue

Navigation

Page 10 of 23

Esther Daniel, who also practises family law in Toronto, agrees. "Although your lawyer cares about you and under- stands that you are going through much stress, he or she is not your counsellor and needs to focus on the legal issues. "Studies have shown that the level of stress one goes through during a separation or divorce can be compared to that of a death of a close family relative or spouse. Do what's best to keep yourself healthy during this stressful time. That way you will be thinking straight and able to instruct your lawyer rationally. You will also have a better perspective of the future." Keep in mind that every time you call your lawyer, he or she will charge the "chat" at an hourly rate. "If you're using your lawyer to vent, you're not using your resources wisely," says Maltz. There is a tendency among some clients to treat their family lawyer as their therapist and assume they'll "fight for every right." A good lawyer, however, will say to the cli- ent, "You're wrong, this isn't reality, it isn't what's going to happen when you get before a judge." It might be an impossible task, but Maltz advis- es to resist calling or e-mailing your lawyer to tell her or him your spouse "yelled" at you. "Step away from your emotions and realize the should be your main priority. You don't want to scar them for life or drag them into the fight with your ex. I try to keep that as my objective in advising clients. You will spend a lot of time and money in the courts litigating matters that could be worked out otherwise," she notes. "Unless your spouse is seriously a threat to the safety limitations in what the lawyer can do. Step away from the computer and recognize that you don't have to report every little thing that occurs because they'll charge you for the contact and it won't resolve anything," he says. Daniel says another tip to save money in the divorce process is to be honest with your lawyer and find one who shares your objective. "If you want a fighter, a bulldog who will rip your ex apart and leave them wailing in the court- room, then go for it," says Daniel. "Sometimes that might be necessary. But usually a lawyer who can negotiate well between you and the lawyer on the other side can avoid repeated motions to the court, and eventually obtain the same result, costing you much less in the end. It is com- mon for parties to fight over every aspect of the divorce. But when the money runs out, there is always a miraculous settlement that can be reached. Why not make the effort to reach that settlement earlier on in the process?" Says Daniel: "Make sure you discuss with your lawyer what end result you would like to achieve before you get caught up with the process." Prioritize — always keep the best interests of children a priority, says Daniel. "If there are children in the marriage this "YOU HAVE TO KEEP REALLY FOCUSED ON THE END RESULT AND THE BIG PICTURE. CUSTODY, ACCESS, CHILD AND SPOUSAL SUPPORT ARE BIG PICTURES." and security of your child, then access and custody is some- thing that both parties should come to an agreement about. Prioritize what is important to achieve starting with what's best for your children. "If there are no children, still prioritize and determine what is important to you," adds Daniel. Maltz reveals that it's vital to understand a family lawyer shouldn't be "writing off a hun- dred different letters about the salt shaker or that you got told off when you picked up the kids. You're just wasting your time and money. You have to keep really focused on the end result and the big picture. Custody, access, child and spousal support are big pic- tures." Writing a single letter because a painting got taken out of the house is not the big picture, especially when it can be dealt with in a settlement or case conference. You don't have to continue to deal with it in an ongoing and pres- ent basis. For her part, Daniel says the most important tip to keep an eye on the emptying piggy bank is to avoid litigating a contested divorce if at all possible. "Sometimes this cannot be avoided," she says. But remember, "each time you have to go to court it could cost at least $1,000 or more. There is a lot of paperwork, disbursements, and time put toward court appear- ances that you are unaware of. There are many things that can be negotiated and worked out between the right lawyers. Running to court every time something is not going your way is going to run the costs up." Daniel says to try to work out a separation agreement first for important issues such as who pays for what, who lives in the home, and custody and access issues where chil- dren are involved. "There's got to be a recognition at some juncture in time you're not using your resources wisely if you don't follow these tips and you need to be focused enough to know the end goal. Otherwise this thing can get out of control," says Maltz. FROM THE PUBLISHERS OF www.digital.canadianlawyermag.com/title/12393 11

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Legal Resource Guide - 2012