Family Law Unraveled

The latest from Margaret's blog

One Little Lie

Friday, August 03, 2012

I was sitting in court yesterday, thinking about the incredible waste of time, money and resources one little lie can cause.  My client has custody of his teenage daughter.  She decided, as teenagers will, that life at her Mom’s house was more exciting, so she went there and wouldn’t come home.  My client tried to retrieve her, Mom resisted, and other family members got involved in a big (verbal) tussle.  My client called the cops.  The cops came and interviewed everyone.  The daughter said she didn’t want to go back to Dad’s.  The cops explained to my client that they couldn’t force her to go with him, and advised him to go to family court and file a petition for contempt of the custody order.  Then they and my client left.  Case closed, or should’ve been.

But Mom must have been mad, because she marched down to family court and filed a petition to get a  protection order against my client, alleging that he had assaulted their daughter during this incident.  He hadn’t, and I’m sure of it, because I spoke to both the cops who were there and had talked to everyone, including the daughter, and no one told them anything about an assault – the only issue anyone mentioned was whether the girl could stay at Mom’s or not.  Regardless, Mom filed a petition, got a temporary protection order against Dad, and a hearing was scheduled.

That’s where I entered the picture. My client, a guy who works two jobs, cooking by day and cleaning offices by night, come to my office and met with me (paid for a consultation); hired me (paid a retainer); and took the day off from work for court (lost wages from two jobs).  I had to subpoena the two police officers (fees paid to the city) and get the police reports (fees paid to the police department).  The officers had to come to court the day of the hearing (paid overtime). The hearing was scheduled for 8:30 a.m.  Mom was a no-show.  But my client, the officers and I waited in court until almost 10 a.m. in order to satisfy the court that Mom wasn’t going to come, and then we had a brief hearing so the judge could take the testimony necessary to dismiss Mom’s petition for lack of prosecution (salaries paid to judge, court reporter, court officers, court administrative staff, rent and utilities for family court building, etc. etc.) Then we left.

My client had been pretty sure from the beginning that his ex wasn’t going to show up, because he knew that she knew what she had alleged in her petition a) wasn’t true, and b) she wouldn’t be able to prove it in court.  She just wanted to punish him.  And she did, very effectively, as well as the rest of us taxpayers who were footing the bill for the cops and the court personnel.  The ripple effect is huge.  And there’s no remedy; since she didn’t show up, there was no hearing on the merits of her petition, so no record was created from which the court could determine that she was in fact lying.  The petition was dismissed because she failed to appear.  Sigh.

About that contempt petition my client filed: the hearing isn’t scheduled until October.  And his daughter still hasn’t come home.

6 thoughts on “One Little Lie

  1. Here’s my case for tomorrow. Teenage boy is supposed to live with his dad because his mom doesn’t want him. Boy doesn’t want to live with dad, and refuses to stay at home (“runs away”). Boy stays with his aunt. Dad says he has to come home. Boy won’t go home. Boy doesn’t feel loved or supported by his father. So. Because he is lacking the care and control of a parent, the city gets involved, and an investigation ensues. We get to court, and there are four attorneys appointed by the city — one for mom (who hasn’t been involved in the boy’s life for two years), one for dad, one for the city social worker, and one for the boy. The aunt, who wants custody, does not get an attorney, or a voice in the courtroom unless she’s called as a witness. Mom doesn’t even know why she’s included. No one agrees about anything, so a full contested trial will be held. Meanwhile, my other contested matters are getting held up for 6-7 months. And the city social worker has now spent at least a day’s work in a courtroom instead of investigating reports of child abuse or visiting children in foster care.

  2. fix iphone says:

    Hello Michelle,

    Normally, the desires of a kid of this boy’s age, intellect and experience, although probably not managing, are eligible to great weight in giving his legal care as between alienated mom and father. The judge made no discovering of fact looking after balanced out this important aspect in giving legal care, and the history before us is simple of any proof looking after do so. Missing any proof looking after identify that the best interest of the boy would be provided by giving his legal care to the mom, the judge erred in unable to allow him to stay with the mom or father of his choice. Divorce Lawyers Montreal

  3. A little can broke you entire life forever. After reading the post, I was reflecting how important a family is in everyone’s life. It doesn’t matter if you are a father, mother or children. If one of the member of the family create a simply lie to his life, it will ruined the rest of the family as well. So be honest all the time. Divorce Lawyers Calgary

  4. dcdesign1 says:

    Sounds so fruitless, and I am sure this happens all the time! Nicely done, Margy, especially with the ripple effect—I liked the way you described each item of wasted time and money, etc.

  5. Rick James says:

    Thanks for this article on family law. It’s true, all heartache and drama starts with lies and pride. It’s sad how people can fall so easily into those situations.

  6. Art Brown says:

    The family is the most important unit in our society. Thanks for your blog. In Calgary there are some good divorce lawyers. Divorce is a sad situation that no one likes to be in so those kinds of lawyers can really be of good use.

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