Why use a family lawyer in Ottawa?

Family lawyer v. Self Representation

family law lawyer

The number of self-represented family law litigants going through the court system has risen sharply in the past decade.  I would guess that the reason is similar to the number of for-sale-by-owner homes; people have access to much more information on the web and as a result are able to more effectively self-represent as an alternative to engaging a family lawyer.

So what are the circumstances where a family lawyer is appropriate, and when should try and go it alone?  I will canvass this issue briefly in this post.  There is one caveat: I am, to a certain extent, a family lawyer, and also employ two other family lawyers.  Conflict of interest disclosed and noted!

Use the free 30 minute consultations to your advantage

First of all many family lawyers will offer a free 30 minute consultation.  There is no reason why someone facing divorce or family law issues should not avail themselves of these opportunities.  You can cover a lot of ground in 30 minutes if both the client and the lawyer are prepared for the meeting.  There is further nothing stopping you from visiting a few different family law lawyers to get second and third opinions, and to see if there is a “fit” anywhere.  Ask the question: Do I really need a family lawyer?

After the initial consultation you will have to consider your options.   A typical family law retainer is going to be between $1,000 and $3,000.  Some lawyers will bill off this retainer from the start, others will hold the retainer in trust until the matter is resolved.  So under what circumstances should you law out the cash, and when should you try and go it alone?

Typically family law lawyers add the most value when there is either high conflict between the parties, or if the matter has multiple issues and is complex.  If the parties get along reasonably well and only have one or two issues to resolve this is an instance where you can self-represent and save on legal fees.

If you do decide to self-represent you will typically end up with a separation agreement.  It is always a good idea to take the agreement and have a lawyer review it and provide a certificate of independent legal advice.  This provides an extra layer of protection if one of the parties attempts to set aside the agreement down the road to make changes to it.  It is very difficult to set aside an agreement where someone has had the opportunity to receive legal advice.  There have also been situations where agreements have been patently unfair simply because the parties weren’t aware of how family law operates in Ontario.

If your matter involves children, complex financial matters, domestic violence, or if you simply want the peace of mind that something is being done right, then you should probably engage a family lawyer.  The reality is that if you are going through a separation there is likely already a significant amount of stress resulting from that change and that stress is detrimental to you overall well being.  You simply can’t replace the years of studying, experience, and continuing legal education that a lawyer receives by searching the internet.  I have also come across people who are their own worst enemy and sometimes having an agent can help expedite a resolution much more quickly and peacefully than would otherwise be the case.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post.  Please like and share, retweet, et cetera.

 

Ottawa Family lawyer provides tips on minimizing family conflict

I have been practicing conflict resolution for ten years.  Here is a basic model to help people resolve their disputes in a family setting.

Basic conflict resolution model:

1.  STOP before you lose control of your temper and make things worse.

2.  SAY what you want.

3.  LISTEN to the other person’s ideas.

4.  THINK of possible solutions

5.  If you still can’t agree ask someone else to help work it out.

1.  STOP

Don’t have an important discussion when you are upset.  Plan a time with the other party that makes sense (I recommend Sunday evenings, or Friday afternoons).  Come prepared to the meeting and address the issue with respect.

2.   SAY

If you are the person with the issue then it is your responsibility to communicate it.  Framing the issue is of the utmost importance in order to work towards resolution.   Do not disparage or “attack” the other party when framing the issue.  A basic rule of thumb is to frame the issue in terms of your own needs, as opposed to how you would like the other party to contribute towards resolution.

Example:

“You need to come home earlier.”  or

“You always come home late.”  vs.

“I’m really tired from being with the baby all day and I really need a break by 6 p.m.”

Very subtle difference in language and tone but it can go along way to reducing conflict.  Most dysfunctional or chronic conflict contains an element of power/control – one party having an issue and attempting to control the other’s behaviour in order to resolve the issue.

3. LISTEN

You have to understand what the problem is before you can solve it.   Listen, ask questions,   and confirm what you understand  the issue to be.  Dig down and get it to a very basic level.  “OK – so basically – by 6 p.m. you are strung out and need to have a break.  It’s not that you necessarily need me home, but that you need to rest because you are at your limit.”

4.  THINK

Now it’s time to start spitballing.  The key to success in this step is to resist the urge to evaluate (and probably shoot down) potential solutions.  At the outset simply record the ideas and encourage discussion.  Talk about what you can do, as opposed to what you can’t.”

“I can’t come home on Mondays, but I can do Fridays.”

“Even if I had three days I think I could manage the other two.”

“Who are some people we could ask for help?”

5.    GET HELP

If two parties can’t agree on a possible solution then it becomes necessary to engage a third party to help resolve the dispute.  Usually the third party is either a mediator, arbitrator, or an expert, but it can ultimately be anything.  Roll dice, high card, paper rock scissor, whatever the parties agree to.  Try anything that gives both sides what they want.  The idea at this stage isn’t to resolve the dispute, but to agree on how the dispute will be resolved.

“We’re at an impasse.  What do you say we’ll try it your way for two weeks, and then my way for two weeks.  We’ll see what works and then come back and try again.”

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Finding an Ottawa Family Lawyer

Having your family structure change is traumatic.  Going through a separation is a difficult time and it is important that you have a competent guide to help you through the process. If you are looking for a Family Law Lawyer in Ottawa then please consider Delaney’s Law Firm as your first choice.  The firm’s  family law lawyers are tried and tested and are there to provide you with the advise and support that you need to help with your transition.   If you are looking for an Ottawa Family Lawyer look no further.

Disaster scenarios to avoid when dealing with a family law lawyer:

1)  “I want the best lawyer money can buy!”

You will pay, that’s for sure.  You’ll pay for  fancy offices, high salaries, and expensive Christmas parties.  The message that you are trying to send is that it’s important to you and that your spouse has hurt you deeply.  That you want the best possible outcome.  Don’t spend $100,000 to send that message.

2) “I want someone who will fight for me!”

It’s fairly easy for family law lawyers to throw gas on the fire in order to keep their billables nice and warm.  Divorce naturally creates feelings of contempt and blame.  Find a lawyer that will advocate for you without ratcheting up the family conflict.  The goal is to reduce the conflict.  Most clients don’t believe that it is possible.  Most mediators know better as do family law lawyers.  Conflict is temporary and will only last as long as there is fuel for the fire.

3)  “I need someone with experience.”

Experience helps, but it’s not the be all and end all.  The majority of family law files requires time and attention, not experience.  Most junior counsel have the necessary skill sets very early on in their practice to tackle basic family law issues.  They’ll have senior counsel available to help them with any unusual issues that need arise.  There are plenty of good lawyers in Ottawa with 2-3 years experience.

4) “My friend told me…”

Don’t rely on people who aren’t lawyers for legal advice.  It’s foolish, and a poor choice during a crucial time in your life.  Go with a pro.  Get it done right.

Need a lawyer in Ottawa?

If you need a lawyer in Ottawa, you have come to the right place.  Our site features a cross-section of some of the best and brightest lawyers in Ottawa today.  Whether you need a family lawyer, personal injury lawyer, real estate lawyer, or someone more specialized we will be able to assist.

Delaney’s Law Firm is a nearly paperless office located at 352 Elgin Street in Ottawa, Ontario.  The firm was established in 2006 by it’s founder, Bryan Delaney.  There are currently five lawyers practicing in the firm in a variety of different practice areas.

The law firm operates on Apple computers, iPhones, and has been recognized as a leader in incorporating the use of technology in the practice of law.  This edge allows our lawyers to be more efficient with their time, more responsive to client needs, and more informed about the current trends in the law today.  Check out our Facebook and Twitter pages to keep up to date on the firm’s contributions and current events.

If you’d like to get started with us send an email at info@delaneys.ca or call (613) 233-7000.  You can also complete one of our handy intake forms here!

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