How to Ensure Your Family Court Judge Will Rule Against You….

GeorgiaLeeLang025Family law is incredibly emotional, particularly when it comes to parenting and children’s issues. But there are basic “rookie” mistakes that well-meaning moms and dads make, despite their valiant efforts to present themselves as good parents focused on their children’s best interests.

One of those mistakes is surreptitiously recording your children or your separated spouse.

So many Canadian judges have criticized this practice that it is almost trite law that it should be avoided. For example, Ontario Justice Pazaratz says in Whidden v. Ellwood, 2016 ONSC 6938

“Parents shouldn’t surreptitiously audio record their children. It’s a breach of trust; an abuse of access; and a cheap manipulation of an innocent child. Sheidaei-Gandovani v. Makramati, 2014 ONCJ 82 (CanLII), 2014 ONCJ 82 (OCJ); Hameed v. Hameed, 2006 ONCJ 274 (CanLII), 2006 ONCJ 274 (OCJ); Jackson v. Mayerle, 2016 ONSC 72 (CanLII), 2016 ONSC 72 (SCJ)”.

A British Columbia judge wrote:

“I am of the opinion that it is not desirable to encourage the surreptitious recording of household conversations, particular so when it is done in the family home and the conversations are between family members. This is an odious practice.” (Seddon v. Seddon 1994 BCSC 1062)

The rationale for filming your child during a parenting exchange time is usually done to show one of the following behaviours:

a) The child’s unwillingness to go to the other parent;
b) The child’s eagerness to go to the other parent;
c) The opportunity to present evidence of the other parent’s nastiness, bad language, late arrival, abusive behaviour, etc.

Yes, you will find judges who will admit audio/video recordings into evidence, but the general consensus is that they are rarely useful or necessary for a judge to determine how to determine custody or divide parenting time between parents.

Why do judges dislike audio or video recordings? Because:

a) Parents use recordings to make the other parent look bad, but more often then not it backfires, causing the Court to doubt the judgment of the recording parent;

b) Recording your child or spouse raises doubts about how a fit parent could be so insensitive as to place an innocent child in the middle of an inflammatory situation;

c) The clear message to the child is “Look how bad your mother/father is, so much so that I have to record him/her”.

And yet, clients will continue to ignore the good advice they receive from their lawyers and smartphones will continue to be a part of a warring parent’s arsenal…sad but true.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

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Two Confused Husbands….Or Is It Wives?

Paul and Alan were both married to women. Paul was married for 30 years and Alan had two failed marriages, one lasted seven years and the second ended after 20 years. Between them they had five children.

Paul and Alan both left their wives and families to engage in a gay relationship with each other. Shortly thereafter both Paul and Alan began to live as lesbians, both of them dressing as women. Still later, Paul decided to have surgical assistance with his gender switch and had a breast augmentation and facial surgery to appear more female.

Paul and Alan, now Jenny-Anne and Elen, were recently joined together in holy matrimony as husband and wife, going through a civil service where Elen had to play down her femininity so as not to upset the government officials.

Later Jenny-Anne and Elen’s marriage was blessed by their church. In media reports the happy couple expessed great joy at their new lives together.

There was not a word said about their broken families or the aftermath of their decisions on their five children. No, it was all about them. Congratulations, I guess….

Parental Child Abduction Escalates World-Wide

GAL & PAL #2jpgIn the last decade, courts around the world have seen a proliferation of parental child abduction cases. Perhaps this can be accounted for by our increasingly global community, or is it a sign that families are increasingly disintegrating and some parents are willing to take draconian steps to ensure they get what they want… in abduction cases, it is the children, of course.

Today a case will be heard by the British Supreme Court involving an arranged marriage, four children, and a battle between a mother in England and her husband in Pakistan.

It began when a young woman entered into an arranged marriage with her cousin and moved to the United Kingdom. The couple had three children, all born in England.

Unfortunately, the marriage began to crack and eventually the father left his wife and children in England and returned on his own to Pakistan.

Some time later, mother and the children arrived in Pakistan for a vacation, but upon her arrival, her extended family began to pressure her to reconcile with her husband. She agree to do so on the basis that her husband return to England to resume their marriage.

It appears she fell into her husband’s trap, because before she knew it, the children were enrolled in school in Pakistan and her husband had hidden their passports. During this time she gave birth to a fourth child.

She finally escaped the clutches of her husband and his family and returned to England, but without her children. She applied in a British court for without notice court orders that the children be returned to England, orders that were later affirmed when challenged by her spouse.

However, her husband appealed the orders to the Court of Appeal. The court upheld the order that her three eldest children be returned to the U.K. but were split on whether the youngest child, born in Pakistan, should be returned as well.

Lord Justice Patten opined that a child born in Pakistan could not be said to be a habitual resident of England and therefore he could not make an order that included the youngest child.

Lord Justice Thorpe disagreed stating that the child took his mother’s habitual residence at birth as “the defeat of abduction must be supported” and that this case fell “narrowly on the right side of an important boundary.”

Britain’s highest court must now decide whether an infant is presumed to acquire the habitual residence of his or her custodial parent, despite being born in a foreign jurisdiction.

Yet, this may not be the end of the case, for a court order to some parents is just a piece of paper they are quite willing to defy.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Guest Post: How to Find Your Perfect Divorce Lawyer

Let’s face it, most of us who commit ourselves into the bond of marriage are reluctant to think about it one day crumbling into a messy divorce, but the truth is, with today’s increasing divorce numbers, the reality is downright dismal ( in the US around 50% of all first marriages end in divorce, about 67% for second marriages and the numbers quickly rise with the number of additional marriages).

So what does this mean in terms of finding an attorney if you are among that fifty percent wanting to dissolve you marriage? Plenty!

Here are a few tips to heed if you find yourself needing someone to help you wade through the murky and unfamiliar waters of divorce.

• Before you file: Really consider the ramifications of filing for divorce. Have you exhausted every avenue before taking the steps for your divorce? Counseling and separation can be important steps to take before you make the final move.

Be very careful about moving about before the divorce, this could potentially be used against you, especially in the case of determining custody for minor children. Run a credit check for yourself, if possible get your finances in the best shape that you can. Divorce is extremely expensive and no matter the verdict, both parties will lose when it comes to finances.

Are you the non-breadwinner? You will need to take care of your personal finances as well as your healthcare, housing, cars and personal effects. A good attorney will inform you of what you should do long before you sign anything. Above all, if you can avoid divorce, then do so. Except in the cases of abuse or criminal behaviors on the part of your spouse, you should give your marriage every effort. Divorce should always be a last resort.

• Arbitration and Mediation versus litigation: The dissolution of a marriage cannot be on the same footing as breaking a business contract, though similar as seen through the eyes of the law, no one can put a price on the cost of someone’s betrayal or the lives of children of divorced parents who will forever grieve the loss of a family unit.

But there are ways to lessen the emotional trauma often association with divorce. If at all possible going through mediation services versus outright litigation will help not only with the overall costs, but will help families make choices over issues that can become quickly contentious if presided over by a non-family member or law enforcement.

Talk with your attorney; chances are if they have experience with family law and especially mediation expertise, this would make a better fit than someone hell-bent on taking on your spouse for every nickel and dime. Consider arbitration as an alternative to a lengthy, drawn-out court battle.

• Your attorney’s personal history: Find out about your attorney. Are they married? Or have they also been through a divorce, child custody battles with their own children or were they able to use their legal acumen to help minimize the trauma inflicted on all parties involved.

Sit down and talk with them about your personal feelings in regards to your spouse’s role, your custody concerns and your future. Do they really seem to be listening, adding thoughtful comments to your concerns or do you feel even more ambivalent after you leave their office?

Other than the death of a family member, going through a divorce is right there when it comes to life-altering experiences and more than ever, you will need someone who you feel confident in, someone who will stand up and defend you and fight for all rights.

A good family law lawyer will explain your rights and what you can expect with a divorce, they will not try to sugarcoat the truth about how difficult the situations will be, they will in all likelihood try to talk you out of a divorce, but if you are both in agreement about pursuing a divorce, they will be with you every step of the way.

GUEST AUTHOR NOAH KOVACS has over ten years experience in the legal field. He has since retired early and enjoys blogging about small business law, at Noah Kovacs and everything in between. He recently purchased his first cabin and spends his free time remodeling its kitchen for his family. Twitter: @NoahKovacs.

Beware Cyberbullies- Guest Post

The internet is an incredibly powerful tool; it can open up worlds of information, connect people from across the globe, and unite users in a pool of information that have never been accessible before. However, if not used correctly, it can also be a horrendous tool for bullying. Parents must be vigilant and more careful than ever when it comes to letting their children use the internet freely. With heartbreaking stories like that of bullied teen Amanda Todd and others filling the news each day, it is more important than ever that you talk to your children about cyberbullying. There are a few ways that you can prevent your teen from becoming a cyberbully and each is easy and beneficial to both parties.

1. Listen- most parents think that talking to your child is the best way to break through when in fact, listening is far more beneficial for both. If you allow your child the opportunity to talk about what is bothering them and what is making them feel angry or as if they want to lash out, you are far less likely to have a child that does in fact carry through on those feelings. Rather than talking at your child and hoping that they hear you, taking the time to listen to what they have to say can help strengthen your bond and get them expressing.

2. Limit and Monitor Internet time- letting your children run rampant on the internet is the quickest way to create a cyberbully. Instead you should help your troubled teen find a better way to express their feelings than blogs and social media sites. You should encourage face to face interaction whenever possible.

3. Allow Your Child Some Freedom- this does not mean let them do whatever they want but more simply, allow them some say in what they do. Rather than saying go clean your room immediately or else, you could say you have an hour to clean your room. This way they can choose when to clean their room but are still bound by rules. Creating rules in your home that are not so strict is a great way to make sure that you child does not feel the need to lash out at other children or at you.

4. Show Them How It feels- if you catch your child bullying another child on the internet let them know how it feels to be bullied. Do not simply take away internet privileges, if they want to get on the internet they will find a way. You need to drive your point home and let them know that if hurts when someone calls another person names.

5. Talk to Friends- if your child continues to cyberbully another child you may need to talk to the parents of your children’s friends. Often a child does not simply pick on another without the help or encouragement of another child. If you take the time to ferret out where the abuse is coming from you may be able to help your child address why they are doing what they are and help them stop.

Cyberbullying is a very serious issue and should be treated as such. You should not take the situation lightly if your child is guilty of being a cyberbully. Taking the time to talk and listen to your child is the best way to see where the actions are coming from and to address the issue at hand.

Agnes Jimenez is a professional blogger and writer with a focus on troubled and depressed teens and how to help them. Follow her at twitter @empressofdrac or check out TheFamilyCompass.com.