Family Law matters can be daunting and emotionally draining. However, when you have a self-represented person on the other side of your matter, this can quickly become financially exhausting if you have counsel and the other side does not. This is because self- represented parties have no ethical or professional guidelines to bind them or control their behaviour.
The self-represented party often feels like they have nothing to lose- they do not have to pay a lawyer everytime they appear in court.
The self-represented party may file applications without regard to whether they will be successful or if the court can even grant the relief they have requested.
The self-represented party are not often ordered to pay costs, and if they are, those costs are often minimal and in no way compensate you for the legal fees you have incurred using counsel.
The self- represented party does not have to pay legal fees everytime they communicate with your counsel, leading some savvy self-represented parties to inundate your lawyer with communications in the hope that they will drive up your legal bills and financially exhaust you. Your lawyer is duty bound by the Law Society Code of Conduct to respond to queries from the other party within a reasonable time frame, and if they fail to do so, they can be disciplined if, in fact, it can be shown that the queries are relevant and need a response.
The courts have attempted to make access to Justice available and equal to all parties, and to ensure that a party using counsel has no unfair advantage compared to a self-represented party. However, in this process, two standards have inadvertently and unintentionally developed. The standard for people who retain a lawyer, and the standard for self-represented parties.
Lawyers are required to comply strictly with filing deadlines, formatting, and evidentiary rules. The self-represented person, on the other hand, is often granted far more leeway and frequently allowed to file documents that do not in any way reflect or comply with the filing requirements regarding evidentiary rules, length, formatting, or deadlines.
This can be frustrating to a party represented by counsel as well as their lawyer who is assisting, when the party with counsel feels that they are unable to respond to allegations while the other side can file anything. It can also lead to financial prejudice to the represented party who has to respond to all the improper actions of the self represented person.
At Mincher Koeman, we understand the difficulties that people with Family Law matters face. We understand that spending thousands of dollars trying to apply for child support or address parenting is simply not cost-effective at times when a savvy self-represented party is using the process to financially and emotionally drain you. We understand that the court system is overwhelmed and that obtaining dates can be slow and frustrating and that this delay can lead to increased legal costs.
At Mincher Koeman, we offer limited retainer services to assist when a party decides to represent themselves. We will help you prepare your matter for the court, mediation or arbitration with the following services;
Litigation Plan- in writing- setting out what steps are required and when; Child Support Calculations with step by step instructions to argue the points required;Legal Briefs drafted and instructions on what are the salient points; Property spreadsheets; and Oral submissions and case law packages to support those submissions.
Call one of our lawyers, and we will be happy to assist.