Time spent stranded in the limbo of the Court System can have just as big an impact on people’s lives as the actual trials

Saturday , Jul 30,2016

Time spent stranded in the limbo of the Court System can have just as big an impact on people’s lives as the actual trials, however, if you can’t settle, then you really just can’t settle.

There has been a push for people to settle during litigation in order to ensure that people do not get further emotionally affected by the legal system and to avoid mounting further litigation costs.

There is a general understanding that around 3-5% of all family court cases end up in Trial.  This makes sense. People are people, and their savings should not be entirely obliterated by fighting a battle that can have a profound impact on them and their children.

However, a huge glut of matters in the Court system has resulted in a lag that ensures that people are kept in the limbo stages at conferences (pre-trial meetings with the judge) in order to strongly encourage them to settle their matters, which in turn can also have an equal negative effect on people, financially and emotionally.

The longer people are engaged in the court system, the more money it will cost them. It is certainly true that Trials can prove expensive, however, each conference can cost significant money as well, and when you have 5 or more the expenditures keep adding up.  More importantly, some individuals just give up and cave in to the other party’s will because they have been exhausted financially and emotionally.

Sometimes cooperative settlement just is not possible, no matter how long the court system presses the issue of settlement. Dire results often follow hotly contested matters, such as people completely losing faith in the justice system. People can spend significant amounts of money and feel they have made very little progress.

Trials are there for a reason, and some people need a judge to make the final determination. Of course, it is understandable that a judge does not (and should not) see your case the way that you do; but when opposing side may well be acting totally unreasonable, what are you supposed to do…

Family Law cases should be pushed forward expediently, as the blockage can have a more negative impact on families then allowing this chapter of their lives to finally end- that light at the end of the tunnel can be better for some who just need finality in a long fought struggle. 

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Filing process can slow down your court case

Saturday , Jul 30,2016

Many of my clients become confused and frustrated as how long court can take. Some give in to unfair negotiations because litigation has emotionally and financial drained them.

Injected to this already time consuming and dawdling process, is court filing.

I can only speak for the Peel Region as our practice is right across one of the busiest court houses in the country.

When anytime a client has started a court case in Family Court, we have to file our client’s Application and supporting materials.  One of the supporting materials that are required with your Application in Family Court are your Notice of Assessments- and you need three years of Notice of Assessments, not just one! There are, however, exceptions to this standard rule- which your lawyer can advise you on.

If my client does not have that, we cannot file the material. Then the client has to call CRA and wait a few weeks  to receive it, give it to us and we file it. However if the client cannot, we have to file an Affidavit, a sworn document, explaining to the court why they do not have their Notice of Assessments and requesting that the court may allow the client to file the Application without the Notice of Assessments.  I have done this many times with differing results. Depending on who the filing court clerk is, sometimes they allow the filing OR reject the filing and you have to give your client the bad news that it was rejected and now they MUST wait for their Notice of Assessments to arrive.

But what if you have been kicked out of your home and need to start the case right away?

OR what if you have not seen your children for over a month? Then what?

Time and time again I have seen clients wanting to start a court case but give up without even entering the court house.

Litigation is not for everyone, but the courts are there for the ones who NEED a judge to make a decision.  Having arbitrary decisions that are made at the counter can slow and frustrate the process.

It costs people money and their emotional well being to go through this. Remember, a good number of people in the family court system are not represented by counsel and do not have the legal resources to guide them through this process.  Maybe a better streamlined approach that will give guidance to the law clerks and to the public can help the very first stage of commencing legal action.

 

Shokheen K. Singh, LL.B

Barrister and Solicitor

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