Podcast: Top 10 Questions to Ask Your Divorce Lawyer pt. 2

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In this transcribed interview with Dale Goldhawk of Zoomer Radio AM740 in Toronto, family and divorce lawyer Lorne Fine of Fine & Associates Professional Corporation discusses some of the important questions one should ask his or her divorce lawyer. Read the interview below, or listen to the podcast at the bottom of the page.

Goldhawk Fights Back Podcast: Recorded January 2, 2014

Dale:  Okay it’s 12:17 here on Zoomer radio, where Lorne joins us, our family and divorce lawyer. Lorne, I hope you had a good holiday season.

Lorne: I did, thank you.

Dale:  All right.

Lorne: Thank you for having me.

Dale: I’m glad to have you back here on duty.

Lorne: Happy New Year. Yes.

Dale:  Now, we started with the top ten questions you should as a divorce lawyer. This is something that’s posted on your website.

Lorne: It is.

Dale:  At Fine and Associates, right?

Lorne: Right.

Dale: So people can go and read it.

Lorne: Right.

Dale: But, of course, I have you in the studio. So I get to ask a few additional questions about each point.

Lorne: Ask away, yes.

Dale:  Ask away. All right. Okay. Sure, you say that now. Here is, let’s go to questions six.

Lorne:  Right.

Dale: And, these are questions, remember, that you can be asking your divorce lawyer. And question six starts out “can you estimate the cost of my divorce?” Now I would think, for a lawyer, a divorce lawyer, that’s a very, very difficult question to answer.

Lorne: Right. And it happens all the time. Everyone always . . .

Dale: Well, because people want to know.

Lorne: People want to know.

Dale: Yeah.

Lorne: And it’s very difficult because you’re not buying like, a pen. You’re not buying an item.

Dale: Yeah.

Lorne: You’re buying time. And it depends on so many factors. It depends on both parties. It depends on the lawyers. It depends on the level of conflict. So it depends on so many factors that it’s hard to give an exact amount. You can give it a range. You know, depending on certain circumstances. But it’s very, very difficult, if not impossible to say this is what’s going, this is what it’s going to cost.

Dale: But will some lawyers not even attempt to do that? I mean, say I, who can, how high is up? How can you estimate?

Lorne: You can’t.

Dale: Blah, blah, blah.

Lorne: Yeah, you can’t. It’s very, very difficult.

Dale: Yeah.

Lorne: You can say if everything is amicable, and if everyone’s reasonable, I estimate the cost to be approximately X amount.

Dale: Yeah. Well, if you, I mean, knowing a particular case you could say “if scenario A works out, it could be in the range of blah, blah, blah.

Lorne: Right.

Dale:  “If Scenario B, you know.” So, there would be at least some indication. Because people know, I think generally speaking, that it could cost them a fair chunk of change, as we say…

Lorne: It can be expensive.

Dale: …to get divorced, right?

Lorne: It can be expensive. Yeah. Like I said, it depends on so many factors. It depends on the issues. And it can, it can be expensive. And it’s very difficult to pinpoint the amount of the cost.

Dale: Well, let me ask you this though. In your area of, in your years of practice in the field, what’s, what are the limits? What are the parameters? I mean, how cheap could a divorce actually be ever from a lawyer? And how expensive?

Lorne: Good question.

Dale:  You know, it’s just you give us an idea of the range.

Lorne: Okay, so if it’s a straightforward divorce . . .

Dale: Yeah.

Lorne: … let’s say there’s no kids, no property, no support issues, so it’s just a simple divorce.

Dale: Yeah.

Lorne: Right? So, to process a simple divorce, it’s, you start a divorce application, and then there’s no response. It’s an administrative process where you have to file an affidavit and so on.

Dale:  Yeah.

Lorne: And eventually you get a divorce judgment. The cost for an uncontested divorce is somewhere around, let’s say, $1,000 for the fees. Plus disbursements and so on. There’s various court costs, and fees, and so on.

Dale: Yeah.

Lorne: And, after process server fees and so on, so, all in, it’s somewhere around $2,000, let’s say, for an uncontested divorce. If there’s issues in regards to children, issues in regards to support, it may be necessary to have a separation agreement. In which case, if it’s a separation agreement, it may be anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000, or $10,000, depending on how complicated…

Dale: Well, the sky’s the limit if it went on and on. Isn’t it?

Lorne: Well, for a separation, I’m talking just for a separation agreement, if it’s simple separation.

Dale: Yeah. Yeah.

Lorne: You’re right. If it’s more complicated, if there’s valuation issues, determining the value of a business, let’s say. Or determining someone’s income for support purposes, we’d need an expert. You know, if you have a self-employed individual who has a business, and he’s paying child support, or spousal support, you need to get an expert to determine that person’s income. You know, some, they’re called CBVs, certified business valuators, who have an expertise in family law. For them to determine the value of a business, or to determine someone’s income for support purposes, that may be anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000, or more.

Dale: All by itself.

Lorne: All by itself. Or more.

Dale: Well, but we could separate the two things here because, essentially, previously we were talking about your time, or a lawyer’s time in dealing with the case.

Lorne: Right.

Dale: And you’re now also talking about…

Lorne: Disbursements.

Dale: …other experts.

Lorne: Other experts.

Dale:  Disbursements that you would have to make…

Lorne: You’re right.

Dale: … in order to process the divorce.

Lorne: That’s correct.

Dale: And that can add up too, then.

Lorne: That can add up. Right

Dale: All right.

Lorne: Yeah. So, it’s, there’s appraisers…

Dale: Well, what runs through, then? You mentioned appraisers. What other kinds of experts might be required?

Lorne: So there’s, as I said CBVs, certified business valuators. They can determine someone’s income for support purposes.

Dale: Yeah.

Lorne: They can determine the value of someone’s business. An appraiser, a property appraiser. There may be properties that have to be valued. They can cost $1,000, $2,000, depending on the nature of the property. Actuaries, accountants. If there’s custody access issues, you may need social workers, or psychologists.

Dale: Yeah.

Lorne: If they have to access the access assessment, it’s very expensive. That could be $10,000, $20,000. You know, I’ve $50,000.

Dale: What’s the most expensive divorce you’ve ever heard of?

Lorne: The most expensive divorce?

Dale: Yeah. I mean, but you’d have to qualify it, wouldn’t you? The most not involving, say, the splitting up of assets, but just in terms of the time and efforts of a lawyer, or a law firm.

Lorne: Well, there was, you know Peter, remember Peter Naygard, Peter Nygard ?

Dale:  Nygard. Yes, of course.

Lorne: Nygard case, where…

Dale:  That went on forever, didn’t it?

Lorne: Went on forever.

Dale: Yeah.

Lorne: And the husband frustrated the wife’s efforts to get support, and so on.

Dale:  Yes, indeed.

Lorne: And then the wife’s solicitor submitted a bill of cost to the judge.

Dale: Yeah.

Lorne: And he was awarded cost of a million dollars, right?

Dale:  Wow. Wow.

Lorne: Which is huge

Dale: Yeah.

Lorne: And very, very unusual.

Dale:  Yeah.

Lorne: That’s very unusual.

Dale:  So that would certainly be near the top, then.

Lorne: That’s the hardest, that’s the highest I’ve heard.

Dale: Okay.

Lorne: And I think that actually was the record. I think Harold Nyma was the lawyer for the wife.

Dale:  Oh, my.

Lorne: But that went, that’s huge.

Dale: Yeah.

Lorne: And very unusual. But, you know, it’s, I would think that, you know, for a divorce with some property issues, some kids, you’re looking at anywhere from, you know, I would say $10,000 to $20,000 dollars, usually.

Dale: That’s a median.

Lorne: Yeah, just as a guestament.

Dale:  That would be a median. A good median. Yeah. Yeah. But, then again, hard to know. Because of different specifics.

Lorne: Very hard to know. Yeah.

Dale: Now, and when we think of divorce, or divorce in the movies, or we think of movie like War of the, remember War of the Roses?

Lorne: Good movie.

Dale: Yeah. Where in the final scene, they’re on the chandelier.

Lorne: Destroying the house.

Dale:  Oh, good grief.

Lorne: Destroyed everything.

Dale: That was Michael Douglass and Kathleen…Kathleen Turner? Is that who I’m thinking of her?

Lorne: Yes, I think you’re right.

Dale:  Yeah, that’s it. Kathleen Turner. Yeah. That was a, that was a great movie. A horrendous movie.

Lorne: That’s, that’s unusual too. That doesn’t usually happen.

Dale:  But it does speak to the emotional part of a divorce that you have to deal with every day.

Lorne: Right.

Dale: It’s not a simple business transaction. It involves trust, and then loss of trust, betrayal.

Lorne: Right.

Dale: All those other negative human emotions and foibles that really can get you totally involved, right?

Lorne: Right. People sometimes lose it, right?

Dale: Yeah.

Lorne: There are some people who have the ability to separate their emotions, and to say “It’s a business transaction, let’s try to focus on doing the deal in a reasonable manner, in a cost effective manner.”

Dale: Yeah.

Lorne: But sometimes, you know, people can’t control that their emotions just overwhelm…

Dale:  “I’m out to get her.” Or, “I’m going to break him.” You know.

Lorne: Yes. Destroy.

Dale:  These kinds of, these are things you’ve just…

Lorne: Destroy. “I’m going, she’s not getting my tools.”

Dale: Yeah. That’s right. That’s right.

Lorne: It’s the last thing.

Dale: “I’ll declare bankruptcy before I give her a nickel.” You know.

Lorne: We hear that all the time. Yes, we, it never happens.

Dale: Yeah, this is not.

Lorne: Yes. Or I’ll disappear.

Dale: It never…

Lorne: I’m going to disappear and she’ll get nothing.

Dale:  Yeah, right.

Lorne: And I’m not paying child support.

Dale:  Yeah.

Lorne: It happened once in my career, where someone actually did disappear.

Dale: They did? Yeah?

Lorne: They actually did disappear. And whenever I…

Dale: Did they pay your bill before they left?

Lorne: I think they did. I think they did. But whenever I see the wife’s lawyer, we always say “remember that guy who really did disappear?”

Dale: And he’s gone. He really did.

Lorne: He just took, he just, yeah, he had kids and he just fell of the face of the earth. So that’s very, everyone threatens it — not everyone — but a lot of people threaten to go bankrupt.

Dale:   Well, it seems like the thing to say, right?

Lorne: Yeah, because you’re angry.

Dale: Yeah, of course.

Lorne: But, you know, if you’re reasonable, as I said, take a step back.

Dale: Yeah.

Lorne: Work with a lawyer. Because your lawyer’s not emotionally involved, you’re lawyer’s objective. And a good lawyer will guide you, and try to make sense.

Dale: Well, but you have to try to get the emotion out of it as much as you can. Or at least, at least, you know, try to tamp it down a bit. So that you can get on with the process.

Lorne: Right. You try to guide your client. As I said, the lawyer’s not emotional. For a lawyer, you’re trying to assist the client in coming to a reasonable resolution.

Dale: Yeah.

Lorne: As fast as possible. At a reasonable cost. But, like I always say, it takes two to tango. Right? If the other party is not reasonable, it’s going to result in increased cost. So there’s only so much that the lawyer can control, right? It’s, you try your best, but there’s a lot of factors out of your control.

Dale: All right, now let’s move to your point number eight. Your suggested question number eight.

Lorne: Yes.

Dale: Things you should be asking your divorce lawyer. And question eight goes along the lines of the whole notion of mediation.

Lorne: Correct.

Dale: We often think of divorce as ending up in court where somebody is saying “I object, your honor. Blah, blah.” And all that TV stuff.

Lorne: Right.

Dale:  But in essence, a lot of cases do not get into a court room.

Lorne: Correct.

Dale: They’re dealt with through mediation, right?

Lorne: Or negotiation.

Dale:  Or negotiation, in some.

Lorne: You may, you retain your lawyer.

Dale: Yeah.

Lorne: And, I should say firstly that, if any listeners want to see the list, they can just go on my website.

Dale: Yeah.

Lorne: www.torontodivorcelaw.com.

Dale:  All right.

Lorne: And so, they can see the list themselves. Just download the list, the questions. So, as far as mediation, most things, most cases are negotiated. So you’ll, one party will have a lawyer. The wife will have a lawyer, the husband will have a lawyer, and you’ll try and negotiate a separation agreement.

Dale: Yeah.

Lorne: Mediation is a good option to resolve disputes. If there’s a level playing field, if there’s no abuse. If there’s disclosure. If you trust the other spouse, and you trust they’re not going to hide things from you, you may go, both spouses may go to a mediator. So both, without lawyers, may go to a mediator. And the mediator is a neutral party. And the mediator tries to negotiate a separation agreement. And then sends the parties off to get independent legal advice. So they both have a lawyer to consult with, and to tell them about the rights and obligations. So that’s one option. So you can go to mediation without lawyers. Or you can go to mediation with your lawyers.

Dale: But will all divorce lawyers necessarily want to use the mediation process? Or would some rather go to court? I mean, I guess that’s a professional preference, but I mean…

Lorne: It’s, you know what? It depends on the case.

Dale:  Yeah.

Lorne: If you think that, you know, a mediator can’t force a resolution. A mediator can only facilitate discussion to come to a resolution. So if you…

Dale:  There has to be a spirit of cooperation before that’s ever going to work.

Lorne: Exactly. So, if you go, if you think the other part is just, it’s you know, it’s, let’s say “his way or the highway,” right? That he’s not prepared…

Dale: Something else that’s frequently said in a lawyer’s office, I’m sure. Right?

Lorne: Yes. If you don’t think the other party’s reasonable, that it is not going to compromise, then mediation is, there’s no point in going to mediation. You know, I’ve had situations where we say “Is it worthwhile to go to mediation, or should we just go to court?” Because I know if I go to court, I have a pretty good idea what’s going to happen in court. So, even though, I’m thinking about one case. Even though, you know, there’s one party really wanted to keep things as amicable as possible, and really did not want to go to court. And we had to make a decision whether we were going to force the issue or go to mediation.

Dale: Yeah.

Lorne: And, essentially what we did was, we gave the other side a deadline. “You have until next week to either accept this proposal, or not, or we go to court.” And, in that case, the other side actually accepted the proposal.

Dale: Yeah. But essentially, that’s certainly something that a potential client should be asking of his, or her, lawyer. What about mediation in our case?

Lorne: Right.

Dale: Because you need, as the client, to hear what the alternatives might be that might, if nothing else, save you a buck or two in the final analysis.

Lorne: Right. So, any lawyer, or most lawyers should, discuss with their clients the various types of dispute resolution mechanisms. Right? One, negotiation. Can we negotiate this person? If not, mediation. With council or without council. If not mediation, mediation arbitration, right? If you go to a mediator, as I said before, a mediator can’t force a decision, but an arbitrator can..

Dale:  An arbitrator can.

Lorne: Yeah, like going, it’s similar to going to court. So if it’s mediation arbitration, do you go…

Dale: Well, it’s like compulsory arbitration in labor decisions as well.

Lorne: Exactly the same thing. Right. The person makes a decision.

Dale: Yeah.

Lorne: So do you go to that one person that mediates and then arbitrates? Or do you go to one person to mediate and then another person to arbitrate?

Dale: Okay.

Lorne: There’s all different types of options.

ANNOUNCER:  Goldhawk Fights Back For You airs Monday to Friday, 11:00-1:00 on AM 740 Zoomer Radio.

Dale: Ah, yes. That puts us in the mood, doesn’t it?

Lorne: Yes, very relaxing.

Dale:   Lorne is here. He’s our family and divorce lawyer. And we’re running through the ten questions you should be asking your lawyer. And here’s question number nine. And I’m sure every lawyer dreads this questions. “Well, what do you think? Are we going to win, or are we going to lose?”

Lorne: “What’s the odds?”

Dale: They want you to predict, right?

Lorne: “What are the odds.”

Dale:  “What are the odds,” right?

Lorne: Yes. Yeah, we hear it all the time. You know, “what’s a judge going to do?” And, you know, when it comes to going to court, no one can say for sure, 100%, this is what’s going to happen. So there’s always a risk. A lawyer can analyze the case, give you the pros and cons, and have some idea what’s going to happen.

Dale: Yeah.

Lorne: Especially when it comes to support cases. But, you can’t guarantee anything. So that’s the risk of going to court is you’re allowing a third party, the judge, who although the judges are very knowledgeable individuals, they’re individuals. And you don’t have control over the outcome of your case.

Dale: Have you, how often have you really been surprised by a verdict?

Lorne: It happens. It happens.

Dale: I mean, it’s going to happen. Inevitably it’s going to happen.

Lorne: Yeah. Maybe the judge is in a bad mood. Maybe the judge, who knows?

Dale: Well, yeah.

Lorne: They’re people.

Dale: Maybe something surprising happened…

Lorne: Yeah.

Dale: …as in a TV drama during the course of a, I mean, these things do happen. I’ve covered them where they’ve happened, you know.

Lorne: Yes. Sometimes it happens.

Dale: Yeah.

Lorne: So, you know the good thing about negotiation, or mediation, is that you have control over the process.

Dale:  Yes.

Lorne: So you have, so it’s your life, and you have some control over the outcome of it. As opposed to going to a judge. And really, litigation is the last option, where you say to a judge “we can’t make, we can’t determine how this should be resolved. You make the decision as to how it should be resolved.” Whether it’s who should have custody, or who should have access, child support, spousal support, property. “We leave it to you judge, to decide how things should be resolved.”

Dale:  Sure. That’s why he or she is the judge.

Lorne: Right.

Dale:  Yeah.

Lorne: And, you know, that’s, as I said, it’s more expensive. And, or can be more expensive than mediation arbitration.

Dale:  But the point is, when the question is, when you’re saying “what do you think? Are we going to win? What are our chances of winning?” Know if you’re lawyer is saying “oh, we’ve got this one in the bag,” I mean, you should be a little, shouldn’t you be a little trepidatious about that kind of thing? Because you can’t really, you can’t know as the lawyer, even if you’re confident. And I would think if somebody, if the lawyer seems over confident, maybe the client should be a little more cautious about that confidence.

Lorne: Well, I don’t know.

Dale: I don’t know. I’m just saying, it could happen.

Lorne: Maybe, maybe you have an excellent case. If you really have an excellent case, maybe the judge. You know, a lawyer has the right to be very confident.

Dale: You can be more confident that with some cases where you’re not so confident, right?

Lorne: Yes.

Dale:  Yeah.

Lorne: I, you know, I always say that it’s more likely than not that we’ll win as opposed to it’s a slam dunk. Right?

Dale: Let me write that down. It’s more likely than not.

Lorne: It’s more likely than not.

Dale:  And so, when it’s not, you say “Well, I didn’t say it was impossible.” Right?

Lorne: It’s an uphill battle here. And some cases are an uphill battle, right? Some cases it’s more likely you’re going to lose than win. So…

Dale:  But, like most, and this brings us to question 10 on your list, which involves all the information that you need to know about the whole process. Most people don’t get divorced every day, they don’t consult a lawyer every day. They’re not involved in any kind of legal process on a regular basis. So they don’t really know how the various laws and processes are going to apply to them. So you must get questions, and this is what 10 is suggesting, you must get questions from clients saying “how do I learn more about the whole process so that I really can understand it?” A lot of people, they want to know about all of that so that they can judge for themselves as they’re doing as they go along. People don’t like just leaving the, I don’t think, they don’t like leaving these things necessarily in the hands of a lawyer, even a good lawyer such as yourself. But they want to know something about that process as well. They want to be involved in that.

Lorne: You know what? Not everybody does want to be involved in the process.

Dale: Really?

Lorne: Yeah, most people, you know…

Dale: “You handle it. You handle it, Lorne. And when you win, let me know.”

Lorne: Most people, you’d be surprised, most people don’t want to…

Dale: “If anything goes right, give me a call.”

Lorne: Well most people…

Dale:  Really, they don’t, aye?

Lorne: They don’t.

Dale: You see, I would. I’d want to know every little thing. Good thing I’m happily married. Yeah.

Lorne: It’s a personality thing, I guess.

Dale: Yeah.

Lorne: Most people, you know, I guess you could go online and investigate, you could go and read. But, you’re not a lawyer, so it’s hard to investigate everything, right?

Dale: Yeah.

Lorne: And even if you go on line, not all the information you get is going to be accurate. So, most people don’t want to investigate all the nooks and crannies about the law.

Dale:  Really?

Lorne: Yeah, they don’t.

Dale:  Really?

Lorne: Listen, it’s always good to have an informed client, it’s good…

Dale: But isn’t it, from your, and you’re coming up to it right now, I interrupted you.

Lorne: Yep.

Dale:  It’s better to have that informed client than somebody who’s just dumped it in your lap and said…

Lorne: Yes.

Dale: …”Lorne, you fix it.”

Lorne: Yes. It’s much better to have a client who’s involved, who is organized.

Dale:  Yeah.

Lorne: Who is involved in the process? Whether it’s making strategic decisions, or gathering information that’s necessary, than somebody who’s not co-operative.

Dale: Well, but it’s, I would think, it’s also to the advantage of the client to be that involved.

Lorne: 100%.

Dale:  Because, essentially, time is money here.

Lorne: 100%, but…

Dale:  If you have to spend three or four hours finding out something that the client should have told you in a matter of minutes, or sent you in the right place, to the right location to find something out, and ergo, somebody who’s involved in their own case, it’s going to pay off at the bank.

Lorne: I hope. I hope these litigates are listening now because you’re 100% right. But a lot of people aren’t.

Dale: Yeah.

Lorne: A lot of people it’s, I guess it’s a very stressful process. It’s a very tiring process. And you know, I may say to them “give me your bank statements for the last three years.” Like “Oh my God,” right? “Give me your credit card statements the last three years. I need all your income tax returns. I need all your financial statement, I need all your corporate returns. And it can be very overwhelming for people.

Dale: Yeah.

Lorne: And, yeah, so not everybody wants to be involved. And not everybody wants to have their finger on the pulse all the time. It’s great if they do. And it’s wonderful.

Dale: Yeah.

Lorne: And it’s, you know, when somebody comes to me and says “here’s my disclosure booklet, here’s all the documents you need, and it’s organized.” That’s excellent.

Dale: This would be another lawyer.

Lorne: Thank the Lord.

Dale:  This would be another lawyer, seeking a lawyer to get divorced himself, probably.

Lorne: Well, you know, there’s, it’s there’s some people who are very organized.

Dale:  Well, I guess that’s true.

Lorne: And there’s some people who just really have every document that, from day one, right? And they have it and they’re very organized. And it’s great when that happens.

Dale:  Okay. We, there you are, there are the 10 things, the 10 questions, generally…

Lorne: Generally.

Dale: That you should be asking your lawyer. Now if you have any questions to ask our family and divorce lawyer, Lorne, he’s right here at your disposal to answer your questions, offer a little bit of advice on the radio. Here are the numbers. 416-360-0740 or 866-740-4740, about any aspect of the divorce proceedings. A proceeding, and I think you dealt with this in the first one to five. A proceeding, or a process that can really take a long, a relatively long period of time, can’t it?

Lorne: It’s totally possible. It depends on…

Dale: I mean, again it’s an…

Lorne: It depends on the parties, again. It depends on disclosure issues. You know, frequently what takes a lot of time is disclosure to show what your income is, what your property is, to complete something we call the financial statement, which lists all your assets and liabilities.

Dale: Yeah.

Lorne: List your income. That takes time. So it depends on the parties. It may be a very, a very time consuming process. And, like I said, it just depends on the issues and stuff.

Dale: I would think it would be more time consuming if it’s the kind of process where the client said “here, you fix it.”

Lorne: If they don’t want to be involved?

Dale: Well, yeah, the whole non-involvement thing. I know I’m still on about that. But I mean I…

Lorne: Well, you’re just shocked that there’s people out there who don’t want to be involved.

Dale:  Well I just, I yeah, I guess I…

Lorne:  You are, you’re shocked.

Dale:  I guess I am. Well, I’m not shocked. I’m 70 years old. I don’t get shocked about much of anything these days.

Lorne: Oh, okay.

Dale:  Come on. All right. The numbers here, again, are 416-360-0740, or 866-740-4740. And here’s Ed on the line from Toronto. Ed, do you have a question for Lorne?

ED: It’s kind of a question, and a suggestion. I know the suggestion part won’t do him any good financially. But, I was thinking, should they not make it more difficult to get married? In other words, you have to jump through a few more hoops so that they divorce rate is less? Now I know of some countries in the Middle East like, where things like adultery, it’s the death sentence.

Dale: Well, I mean, different rules.

ED: Maybe here, we should make it more like it was 40 years ago. People had to leave town when they were involved in something like that. And maybe, maybe there should be a criminal charge like, for that sort of thing. For the people involved, I think.

Dale: What are you talking about adultery, is that what you mean?

ED: Yeah.

Dale:   Oh, okay.

ED: And if you go back to the little more stricter rules on that.

Dale:  All right.

ED:  Like, that used to be the only grounds for divorce.

Dale: Yes it did.

ED:   Because it was so serious.

Dale: But Ed, you bring up a very, a very interesting question. And this is what I’d like to pursue with Lorne. Thanks very much for the call. Maybe, I don’t know how we would every do this. Maybe we make it a little tougher to get married, and not quite so tough to get divorced. I mean, you’ve heard that said many times, I’m sure.

Lorne: Right. Yeah.

Dale: But there’s some truth in that somewhere, isn’t there?

Lorne: Yeah, there is. There is. Well, yes. It’s very easy to get married, and very difficult, well, not very difficult.

Dale: Yeah.

Lorne: But difficult to get divorced. It’s a longer…

Dale: Well, you could make it very difficult. You could make it as difficult as you want, I suspect.

Lorne: Yeah, but it’s a whole process as opposed. And maybe the listener is right. Maybe Ed’s right that maybe some courses would be helpful.

Dale:  Yeah.

Lorne: Courses about how to have a good marriage, and how to have, how to communicate. You and I were talking on the break about…

Dale: Yeah.

Lorne: … the top 10, well, reasons why…

Dale: Well, we’ll do that in a minute.

Lorne: Oh, okay.

Dale: The top 10 reasons that marriages fail.

Lorne: Fail.

Dale: And who better to ask than you. Because you’re there as they’re failing, right? Or they’ve already failed. They’ve already come.

Lorne: By the time they get to me it’s been, it’s failed for a while.

Dale:  Yeah. Reconciliation is not probably one of the things you experience that much.

Lorne: Well, it’s happens. It happens sometimes. And it’s actually a lawyer, a divorce lawyer is obligated to say to the client, “have you considered marriage counseling? Do you want to reconcile?”

Dale:  Yeah.

Lorne: So, sometimes it happens.

Dale: Really?

Lorne: Oh, yeah. Sometimes it does happen. People have second thoughts. Now very often. And usually when I say “have you considered marriage counseling,” the client looks at me like I’m insane. Right. So, but you have to.

Dale: Okay. I understand that.

Lorne: So, you know, maybe some courses about communication before you get married.

Dale: Yeah.

Lorne: Courses about finances. You know, anything like that would help. Because a lot of times people get married and they have, you know, rose colored glasses, and they think everything is going to be wonderful.

Dale:  Yeah.

Lorne: And then reality sinks in.

Dale: But some of the statistics seem to be suggesting, certainly in the province of Quebec where it’s been this way for a while, fewer and fewer people are actually getting married and are just living together anyway.

Lorne: Yeah, common law. Yeah.

Dale: Just as in a common law situation. But those cases still come before you as well.

Lorne: Yeah. People still break up in common law situations. It’s a little bit…

Dale:  There’s still shared property.

Lorne: Yeah.

Dale:  There’s still that…

Lorne: Well, it’s not the same property issues.

Dale:  No. No.

Lorne: It’s not the same law as far as married couple. But the law is probably going to evolve to deal with common law partners in a specific way because they’re so common.

Dale:  Yeah.

Lorne: Right now it’s, now there’s no hard and fast set rules for dealing with common law property issues. But it’s becoming more and more common that, you know, judges are starting to treat them as if they’re married. But there’s, like I said, there’s no hard and fast set rules.

Dale:  So that will be set by either by precedent by judges dealing with these kinds of cases, and perhaps a change in law here and there to…

Lorne: For the legislature.

Dale: And some legislative changes that would, yeah.

Lorne: That’s right. Right. Because like you said, it’s more and more common.

Dale: Yeah. Here are the numbers to call. 416-360-0740, or 866-740-4740. Questions about family law and about divorce proceedings with our divorce lawyer, Lorne Fine.

Dale: 12:49 here on Zoomer Radio. Lorn Fine is here. Questions about family law and about divorce proceedings, the usual fair. And here’s Doug on the line from Aurelia. Doug, do you have a question?

DOUG: Yeah, good afternoon Dale, and you’re?

Dale:   Lorne.

Lorne: Lorne.

DOUG:   And you’re Lorne?

Dale: Yeah.

Lorne: Good afternoon.

DOUG: I’ve been separated for, I’d say 20 years, I had a legal separation back about 15 years ago. And everything was cut and dried then. What should it cost me to get a divorce done today?

Lorne: Sorry, what would it cost to get a divorce?

DOUG:  Yeah.

Lorne: Okay. So if everything is done, you said you have a legal separation. So you have a separation agreement, right?

DOUG: Yeah.

Lorne: Okay. So it’s just, it should be a straightforward, uncontested divorce. As I said before, there’s disbursements, there’s legal fees. You know, you’re probably talking somewhere around, somewhere between $1,500 to $2,000, all in.

Dale: Unless there’s some wrinkle that would come up, yeah.

Lorne: Yeah, unless there’s, unless there’s, assuming that, does she, does your ex still live in the province, or near you?

Lorne: I’m sorry?

DOUG: No, I was just wondering because I’d like a, I have a legal separation, I give her everything anyways. So, back 15 years ago, it was about 20 years ago all together. But I haven’t seen her for quite a while anyway. So I figured maybe I’d get.

Lorne: All right, so you have to find out where she is, because you want to serve her with the divorce application, so that’s, you know, when I say $1,500 to $2,000, or $2,500, it depends on whether it’s easy to serve her. Serving means you have to, someone has to actually deliver the divorce application to her. So you got to know where she lives. If you don’t know where she lives, then someone has to go to court and say to a judge, “I don’t know where she lives, and I want the divorce application to be delivered to, let’s say a relative’s house.” And it will come to her attention if it goes to this relative. And that gets more expensive. So, the first thing you should do is find out where she lives and, so you can serve her, and it will reduce your cost.

Dale: All right, I hope that helps Doug. Thanks, thanks very much for the question. That could be a big, that could be a large difficulty if, in fact, you’re in that, at that stage and you want the full divorce. Finding the spouse, right?

Lorne: It happens. Especially with someone like that who has been separated for a while.

Dale: Yeah. Yeah.

Lorne: Loses touch with the ex-wife. Doesn’t know where she is. You have to go to a judge and say “I don’t know where she is.” A judge will say, “Well, what efforts have you made to try to locate her? Does she drive? Does she have a driver’s license? Have you investigated her relatives or friends?” So a judge is going to want to be satisfied that you’ve made some efforts. And sometimes, you know, you can’t find the person. Let’s say that the person left the country. You don’t know where the person is. You’d have to go to court and get an order dispensing with service, that you don’t have to serve the person with the divorce application. So that all adds that, adds that to the cost.

Dale: And that you could get. I mean, that is something that does happen, that you cannot find the person.

Lorne: But it happens. It happens. But you have…

Dale:  In absentia, you could still get your divorce, right?

Lorne: Oh, you’ll, yeah. A judge is not going to say “no you can’t. You have to be…”

Dale: “If you can’t find her, we’re not doing anything.”

Lorne: “If you can’t find her, you’re married forever.” Yeah. So, but, judges want to be satisfied that you made efforts. You know, “Did you try to find her? How did you try to find her?” And so on, and so forth.

Dale: Yeah. Yeah.

Lorne: But, like I said, that only increases the cost for a divorce.

Dale: Now, something we talked about earlier. And here’s my suggestion. You have compiled.

Lorne: Yes.

Dale: The top 10 list of why we, reasons why marriages fail.

Lorne: In my opinions.

Dale:  In your, well, but you deal with this every day.

Lorne: I do.

Dale: When you go to work, you’re dealing with this.

Lorne: I am.

Dale:  Okay. We don’t have, I can’t do 10 because we don’t have enough time left. Let’s split it like we split the list of questions.

Lorne: Okay. Okay.

Dale:  Over the past couple of shows. Maybe we can do, if you do the top 10 reasons in order of importance, you could start with reason number 10, and we’ll work backwards and see how far we get.

Lorne: Number 10, number 10.

Dale: How’s that?

Lorne: Okay, so that the least.

Dale:  Those would be the least.

Lorne: Okay.

Dale: The least likely reason that a marriage failed.

Lorne: Okay, so, let’s, let’s look.

Dale: Okay, so what would number, what do you got all these documents there. It must be there somewhere.

Lorne: Well, okay.

Dale: All right.

Lorne: So, I would think that the least, number 10?

Dale: Yeah, number 10.

Lorne: The reason is, I would say…

Dale: You’ve got to watch Letterman more often. You know how to do this, right?

Lorne: I know, backwards.

Dale:  Or Jeopardy, where you have to answer, you know, you answer the question with a question, or whatever.

Lorne: Right. So I would think that time problems, dealing with work, and dealing with family and schedules, you know, sometimes people have a combination between time problems and expectations, right?

Dale:  Yeah,

Lorne: Some people think that, maybe unrealistic expectations how when you should be home, when you should be with the family, how much you’re working, it’s a matter of, you know, like anything in life, it’s a matter of juggling. Juggling family, juggling work.

Dale: Yeah.

Lorne: Trying to be home as much as possible. If, you know, someone who works all the time, something’s going to suffer. Right? And chances are, their home life is going to suffer.

Dale:  Well, it may well be both spouses are in that kind of situation, and the marriage kind of fails through inadvertence in a way.

Lorne: That’s right. Because people are apart.

Dale:  You kind of fall out of love because you don’t see each other very often.

Lorne: You don’t see each other. Right. You don’t see each other, you spend time apart.

Dale: Yeah.

Lorne: And maybe, you know, the opposite end is you’re working, you’re at home too much, and you’re not working enough. So then there’s financial problems, right?

Dale: Yeah.

Lorne: You’re not, you’re not providing for your family.

Dale: Yeah.

Lorne: So, I think people have to have realistic expectations. And…

Dale: Well, because and understand that as Ed would have said earlier, he’d agree with this, that marriage seldom cures anything.

Lorne: Right. It’s not going fix, it’s not…

Dale:  If you know what I mean.

Lorne: You’re absolutely right. It’s not going to make things better.

Dale: It’ll challenge you.

Lorne: Yes. Yes, so…

Dale: But, but to a better goal. To a higher purpose, as it were.

Lorne: Right, it’s, I think some people think that it just comes easy.

Dale: Yeah.

Lorne: So, marriage isn’t easy. It’s like any relationship. It’s not.

Dale:  That’s right.

Lorne: It should be easy. It, you know, you don’t want marriage to be very difficult. But like any relationship, you have to work at it.

Dale:  It shouldn’t be terribly difficult. But you still got to work at it, you got to pay attention.

Lorne: Like any relationship. Right. Like friends, or family. You can’t…yes.

Dale: Okay. So that’s reason number 10 in the top 10 list of why reasons fail.

Lorne: Sure.

Dale:  Number 10 is, essentially, you fall out of love because you just don’t have enough contact with each other.

Lorne: Or, expectations.

Dale: Yeah.

Lorne: Yeah. Expectations, time issues.

Dale: And maybe in a case like that, ending that marriage is probably a good idea.

Lorne: Or, or change your priorities.

Dale: Yeah.

Lorne: Change, shift up, shift up your life so you spend more, you know, try to maintain the balance so you have more time at home and less at work, or vice versa.

Dale:  But, nonetheless, there would still be times when people who got married shouldn’t have gotten married, and that’s why they’re getting divorced.

Lorne: It’s, sometimes people, yes, act very quickly and get married, but then…

Dale: Right? See, I should be in your office. I would say these things to people.

Lorne: I know, you’d be great. Come on.

Dale: Like, you guys had no business getting married in the first place. What were you thinking? Right? And then you could give the legalese and stuff actually.

Lorne: Yes, okay, you’re welcome to come to my office anytime.

Dale: I could be, I could be shown the door. All right. Reason number nine…

Lorne: Number nine.

Dale: …on the top then list of why reasons, why marriages fail.

Lorne: I was going to say personality problems.

Dale: Okay.

Lorne: People, I guess people, you know when you, people change over time, right? People, people don’t remain constant throughout years. And sometimes, sometimes people change.

Dale:  Yeah.

Lorne: And maybe your personality traits just aren’t compatible. So similar to number 10, but…

Dale:  But it adds the whole, we can call it the maturation process, we can call it aging.

Lorne: Aging.

Dale:  But the point is, somebody at 25 is not necessarily the same person at 50.

Lorne: Correct.

Dale:   Or 60, or 70, or whatever. Right?

Lorne: Correct. Yes. Yes. So…

Dale: So that’s what you’re saying, yeah?

Lorne: Yes, you…

Dale:  You can grow out of it because your attitudes and philosophy towards life, perhaps, have changed a bit.

Lorne: Correct. And, I think to address that is communication. And communication is a big issue throughout all these reasons is people fail to communicate. And people either fail to communicate, don’t want to communicate, don’t want to work at communication. So, you know, as you change, you know, you may want to talk about it with your spouses to why you’re changing.

Dale: Yeah.

Lorne: Or what’s bothering you, or, before things get out of control, right?

Dale: Well, that’s referring back to the work that it takes to keep a good marriage going, right?

Lorne: Correct.

Dale:  Right?

Lorne: Yeah.

Dale:   Exactly. Okay.

Lorne: Which is communication.

Dale: Reason number eight.

Lorne: Reason number eight is, I would say, family problems.

Dale:  Okay.

Lorne: You know. When you marry your spouse, you also get all her family.

Dale: Oh. That family problems.

Lorne: Yes.

Dale: I see.

Lorne: All her family.

Dale: There are people out there going “Oh, yeah.” Right.

Lorne: So, right? So you got, there may be stepchildren.

Dale: Yeah.

Lorne: There may, you know, your…

Dale:  It could be complicated, right?

Lorne: It could be very complicated. Your in-laws. Your spouse’s siblings. Right? There’s all kinds of people factor into the equation that you may not like very much. Right?

Dale: And it may, those things won’t improve with age, I’m thinking.

Lorne: Correct. Right. And you have to deal with them.

Dale: All right. Okay, we’re stopping then at reason number eight. So when you join us again…

Lorne: Yes.

Dale: …in another month or so, we will be at reason seven.

Lorne: Seven.

Dale:  From the top 10 reasons why marriages fail and people get divorced, okay?

Lorne: Yep.

Dale: Lorne, thanks for coming in.

Lorne: Thank you for having me.

Dale: Lorne, our family and divorce lawyer. That ends it for today. Our first show for 2014. There will be many more.

Lorne: Happy New Year, thank you.

Dale:  We certainly hope.

Lorne: I hope so.

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