We wouldn’t wish divorce or other family law issues on our worst enemy. And when you try to resolve these issues yourself, you must face an even more daunting hurdle. Thankfully, family lawyers exist to help you survive these legal challenges at a time when you and your family are in a relatively precarious situation.
No matter how emotionally charged the discussions can be, family lawyers exist to ensure that cooler heads prevail. Without the assistance of one, you’re putting yourself at a serious disadvantage in the courtroom, and you could potentially cost yourself far more time and money than you would have lost had you hired a lawyer.
Beyond this, family lawyers are experts in several facets of divorce law and other subjects. They can help you navigate the intricacies of the legal system in several ways. At Guardian Law, a Vancouver family law firm, we’ve outlined 12 ways family lawyers can be of service to you.
What Is A Family Lawyer?
A family lawyer is a lawyer who offers legal services that relate to family relationships including marriage, divorce, child support, child custody, and adoption. Attorneys in this field can specialize in one of these aspects or take a generalized approach. They can work with you to represent you both in court and during the negotiations outside of it. Plus, they’ll draft legal documents to support you in your case.
People typically seek the assistance of divorce lawyers to mediate the fallout from a divorce. However, family lawyers have a broader range of skills than you might initially expect. Family life can relate to adoption, paternity, and even emancipation which is entirely unrelated to divorce.
Aside from being able to resolve family law disputes, family lawyers are also skilled at mediating the interpersonal conflict that characterizes divorce scenarios. They are well aware of the types of dynamics that pop up and can offer you strategies to cope with any quarrels.
Resolving Some Misconceptions About Family Lawyers
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to regard family lawyers with suspicion. It comes with the territory when you’re negotiating painful family breakups. Above all, you should understand that family lawyers intend to help and not hinder you.
Generally speaking, there are family lawyers working for both parties. During the negotiation process, each lawyer tries their best to reach an agreement without much trouble. The law firm is working for you to help you resolve the case as inexpensively as possible.
The only time that a family lawyer would go for an offensive or “destructive” approach is if the other side tries to employ the same tactics. In this case, a family lawyer might adopt a more aggressiev approach to offer their client the best protection.
The 12 Reasons Why You Should Hire A Family Lawyer
As you can see, there are numerous reasons why you should hire a family lawyer. More than anything, it’s important that you don’t try to represent yourself. It’s near impossible for you to stack up against a lawyer with several years of education and experience in the field. They will understand the intricacies of the law far better than the layperson would.
Start Off On The Right Foot
After you hire a family lawyer for a divorce, the process usually begins with the lawyer writing a formal letter to your ex-spouse informing them that you have hired a lawyer. Moreover, your lawyer will encourage your ex to hire a lawyer too.
Ideally, both parties will hire a lawyer. In fact, some lawyers will avoid taking on clients when the other party insists on being self-represented because they don’t want the other party to hold them accountable for the inevitable depletion of their assets that follows.
Find Out Whether Your Dispute Will Hold Weight In Court
Once you start to talk to your lawyer, they will let you know whether they think your dispute is reasonable. Sometimes, a client can come to a divorce lawyer with all sorts of notions in their head that are simply inaccurate. Since this is such an emotional time, your sentiments could cloud your judgement. That’s where a lawyer steps in to let you know which of your expectations are realistic and which are not. Oftentimes, judges will dismiss any arguments that they find unreasonable and this can be to your detriment in the rest of your case.
One common misconception that people have regarding divorce is that if their spouse cheated on them, they are more likely to obtain a favourable settlement all-around. However, spousal fidelity is not taken into consideration in Canada when it comes to issues like child custody.
Another misconception is when people think their ex-spouse needs to agree to the divorce for it to come to fruition. This is also untrue, so if you had any fears about your spouse not responding to your divorce papers, don’t worry. You’ll be able to divorce so long as one of the following three criteria for marriage breakdown is met:
- Physical or mental cruelty
- At least one year of separation
Fill Out Your Paperwork Correctly
Everyone hates paperwork, but it’s something that you need to complete properly to have a positive outcome. Most people are unaware that you will write the majority of your argument on these forms rather than arguing verbally in court. If you don’t fill these forms out properly, a judge could turn you away and tell you to fill them out all over again. The simple act of filing these forms can take hours. That’s why law firms often have people on hand whose job it is to wait to file those forms and free up time for everyone else.
It can be tempting to fill out these forms yourself, they look quite simple to the untrained eye. But don’t be fooled! The questions they ask might seem to be framed in simple English, however, there is a standardized procedure for filling them out that only lawyers are privy to. Not to mention, there are plenty of legal terminologies that you’re unfamiliar with. For instance, you have to know when you can use hearsay, which is evidence based on what other people say, in your arguments.
There is also a fair amount of financial paperwork associated with the legal process and a lawyer can help you navigate that too.
Get Everything Down In Writing
We mentioned that much of your argumentation will be conducted in writing via forms. Let’s elaborate on that further.
A divorce lawyer will write persuasive arguments for you on the right forms. Once you head into court, the judge will regard you far more favourably given that your lawyer has already written a persuasive argument supporting you. After all, the content of these forms essentially functions as your introduction to the judge.
A lawyer can bring a standard of perfection that the layperson would otherwise be unable to meet. Lawyers not only make for excellent orators but they have been thoroughly trained in legal writing as well. They will also comb through your evidence and ask you detailed questions to ensure that you don’t forget to add any pertinent information to your forms. If you were to write in an unprofessional tone or leave important details out, this could significantly tarnish your reputation in the eyes of the judge.
Family Lawyers Understand How Courts Work
As with many aspects of family law, court processes are extremely complicated. Judges have certain expectations about how things are done that you must adhere to. And don’t expect a judge to be more lenient should you be self-represented. Judges hold everyone to the same standard.
Furthermore, a family lawyer knows what to expect going into the case whereas a self-represented individual does not. This can cause a self-represented litigant to become unreasonable or drag the process out even longer thus creating more liability and trouble for them down the road.
Family Lawyers Know All The Options
After experiencing dozens of different divorce trials and studying dozens of others, family lawyers know all the different variables at play. They can show you all the options that lie at your feet. Sometimes, they can get creative and resolve disputes in ways that you would not have imagined. This is especially true when you both parties each have their own family lawyer. Their collaboration can produce unexpectedly positive results.
Sometimes, you don’t even need to go to court to resolve a dispute. Rather, you can start with mediation first and see if you can negotiate a settlement outside of court. It’s only in the cases where one or more parties have serious disagreements about how to move forward that court action is necessary. Even then, lawyers will ensure that you express your arguments reasonably and minimize the amount of conflict and damage caused.
Learn The Expected Outcome Of Your Case Ahead Of Time
Since family lawyers know all the options, they also have a good idea of how the case will unfold beforehand. This also helps them determine what types of strategies they should use when negotiating settlements. As divorce settlements tend to be quite emotional, being able to prepare yourself for what happens ahead of time can be a boon to your mental well-being.
Bringing A Lawyer Onboard Ensures Contract Enforceability
Without consulting a lawyer, it can be difficult to know whether any documents you create during this time are enforceable. Such problems are often not apparent at the beginning, however, if you find 5 years later that your separation agreement is not enforceable, then this can cause you huge problems too. And don’t just hire a lawyer for a few hours to certify your separation agreement. Rather, you should have the lawyer onboard the entire time to monitor the situation for you. For example, a lawyer can ensure that your child support agreement adheres to federal child support guidelines.
Family law services will take the time to explain to you the nature of the agreement and its implications. This is essential to ensure that your agreement is truly enforceable. Plus, it can be helpful to have a lawyer on hand in case you want to alter some of the terms of the agreement.
Lawyers Know What To Say In Court
Family law issues require a degree of sensitivity. Lawyers know how to choose their words carefully to make a good impression on the judge. In fact, there are certain things you can say that will aggravat them. If you try to denigrate the other party or say anything disrespectful, that is likely to backfire against you.
You don’t even need to say anything negative to irritate a judge. Simply put, you won’t be as eloquent as the average lawyer and hence, you will take up much more time while speaking which makes the court process take longer. Your lack of experience with using the correct documentation will only prolong the process further.
Judges aren’t necessarily impatient, but waiting for one party to organize themselves and find the right arguments will get on their nerves after a while. These judges often have several cases to hear in a single day, so they will eventually want you to hurry up. In some cases, the lawyer at the opposite end of the case will allow a self-represented party to speak at length. That way, they let the self-represented party shoot themselves in the foot. It might seem cruel, but they’re only trying to act in their client’s self-interest.
A family lawyer will also help set the stage for you in court. They can help calm you down and tell you tactfully when you’re being unreasonable. It’s easy to succumb to your emotions during this process, so it’s in your best interest to listen to your lawyer in this regard.
Save Money And Benefit From A Lawyer’s Expertise
You might be deterred from spending money on hiring a family lawyer because the price tag seems too high. But if you decide not to hire a family lawyer, the consequences could cost far more than a lawyer ever could. Expenses like child and spousal support or losing out on property division could make you far worse off than you would have been if you hired a lawyer. Not to mention, a family lawyer will try to get the process over with as quickly as possible, so you’ll save money on lawyer fees that way too. Especially when you contrast this to hiring a lawyer midway through the process when they have a whole mess to unravel for you. Experienced lawyers are aware of all sorts of strategies they can employ to make sure that you get the best deal at the end of the divorce process.
Note that Canadian courts force the loser of a proceeding to pay their opponent’s legal fees. As someone who is self-represented almost always loses their case, they still end up paying lawyer fees anyways – which is what they were trying to avoid in the first place.
Worse yet, since lawyers will often try to take advantage of a self-represented litigant, they might find ways to get you to pay more remunerations to your ex than you expected otherwise. It seems cruel, but a family lawyer is there to look out for their client’s best interest. They know exactly what buttons to press to paint a self-represented litigant in a bad light.
Sometimes, Child Protection Is Necessary
In extremely severe cases, you might find the need to protect your child from your ex-spouse. In these cases, it pays to have a child protection specialist working for you. Not only will this type of family lawyer help you navigate the world of family justice issues for you, but they can also assist you in finding professionals like psychologists, social workers, and doctors to ensure that your child receives the support that they need.
Make The Whole Ordeal Quicker
It’s no secret that divorce is a painful process. Hiring a family lawyer will help you get the whole process over with a lot quicker. If you’re trying to juggle your divorce alongside a full-time job, that sounds like a lot of pain for very little gain. Plus, the mere act of thinking about your divorce can be extremely troublesome for some. Once you’re sure that you don’t want to spend the rest of your life with your ex-spouse, it’s best to move on quickly. A family lawyer will help you start planning your next steps rather than reflecting on the past.
Guardian Law, The Best Family Lawyers – Vancouver
There are few decisions that we can earnestly say change the course of your entire life. Divorce is one of them. This isn’t the time for you to take a gamble, you’ll neglect your future if you do.
Guardian Law is your best choice for a family law group in Greater Vancouver. We want to come to a resolution that all parties involved find agreeable while still focusing on the best possible outcome for you. Here are some of our top areas of expertise:
- Marriage Agreements
- Separation Agreements
- Cohabitation Agreements
- Spousal Support
- Division Of Property & Debts
- Custody & Guardianship
- Child Support
It doesn’t matter if you’re going through a nasty divorce or an amicable split, our family lawyers will be there to handle every component. And if you need help drawing up contracts and figuring out how to handle issues like child custody, our expert team of Vancouver family lawyers is at your disposal.
Contact us to book an appointment today to receive clarity on your unique situation.