What is the hidden cost of litigation? The vast majority of individuals who undertake legal action with counsel understand the financial burden associated. Lawyer’s charge for their time and litigation is often time-consuming. The financial costs are outlined in a retainer agreement signed prior to commencing the action. The costs which are not spoken to in any retainer agreement is the mental and psychological toll litigation takes.
I do not purport to be an expert in mental health. My observations are simply that. The purpose of this blog is two-fold. One, highlight the mental toll associated with litigation. Two, help identify way’s litigants can alleviate the anxiety associated.
For most, legal proceedings are completely foreign. Many people have never attended court nor engaged in such a process. In the context of family law, often we are left to deal with extremely sensitive issues such as separation, divorce, a division of assets, and parenting. The parties involved are often individuals who at one point in time cared deeply for each other. Often children are involved only elevating the tension and stress. Litigation is often contentious and adversarial from the beginning and throughout. Pitting the two parties against each other, in the pursuit of one side coming out the victor. Positive feeling’s, emotions, and connections are customarily severed by the end.
Often I am able to see the physical manifestation of stress and anxiety throughout the litigation process. The client will be shaking, crying, sleep deprived, and even feel physically ill. I inquire as to coping strategies they are utilizing throughout the process. Frequently I hear the same lighthearted response of having a drink. I can see the weight of the situation blanketing them. Yet, very few individuals either seek out professional help or engage in any form of mental hygiene. Being engulfed in the matter, they are unable to recognize the cost being paid in terms of their mental well-being. Leaving individuals overwhelmed and burnt out.
Engaging in mental hygiene can be as simple as exercising daily. After exercising people often feel a sense of positivity and accomplishment. Yoga and meditation have been proven to provide similar benefits. Proper diet, can be extremely important. Too often we feel overwhelmed and settle for a meal that is quick and easy but lacking the proper nutrition. Meal’s of this nature leave many feeling lethargic, or it will negatively impact their mood.
For many, a stigma still surrounds the topic of mental health. For this reason, they are unwilling to speak openly with friends, family, or professionals about their mental health. Slowly, we as a society are moving past this damaging stigma. It is perfectly fine to feel overwhelmed by the process. The issue arises when we, speaking collectively, do not address this feeling. Speak to friends, family and professional help if necessary. You are not alone and will only benefit from verbalizing these issues. Remember if you do not properly care for yourself, you cannot properly care for anyone else.
Attached is a link to a TEDx talk from Guy Winch, a psychologist. He asks the audience to take our emotional health as seriously as our physical health.
Craig Donkin is a Student-at-Law with Rowanoak Law Office LLP.
Moving is an inevitable reality that most everyone will have to contend with at some point. There are a lot of things you need to consider when you move, but a move is further complicated when are moving with children – especially if you are separated or divorced.
If you want to move with your children and this will impact the other parent’s rights with respect to the child(ren), there is a strong likelihood that the other parent will have something to say about it. Conversely, if your former partner intends to move away with your mutual child(ren), you will likely want to have a say in what happens.
While this type of issue may be resolved between the parents, seeing as moving does not leave much middle ground (you either move, or you do not), arriving at an agreement may be difficult. In the event that an agreement is not possible, the recourse for a moving parent is a “mobility” application in Court. Importantly, no move should be undertaken without consent of the non-moving parent or a Court Order permitting it.
As with most issues in parenting, the best interests of the child(ren) are of paramount importance, and any move should contemplate how the best interests of the children will be impacted. That being said, it is hardly a straight forward analysis to determine whether a move should be permitted. Indeed it can be difficult to determine what is ultimately in the best interests of the child(ren).
The leading Supreme Court case on the subject of mobility, Gordon v Goertz, lays out various factors that should be considered in any mobility application. Some of the relevant directions the Supreme Court gave in this case were that:
Dealing with relocation with the children and specifically mobility applications are very fact specific endeavors. If you have any questions with respect to potential moves with children, please contact one of our family law lawyers.
Michael Dugas is an Associate with Rowanoak Law Office LLP and practices in Family Law.
A recent Alberta Provincial Court decision by Judge Skinner provided some guidelines for when a trespasser stays on private property, or becomes a trespasser by refusing to leave.
In this Red Deer case a charge of assault was dismissed where a male entered onto a business premises with another woman, stayed to talk to the business owner by permission, then was asked to leave by the abrupt words and actions of the owner. While the situation settled down and further discussion took place without hostility, including talks with that same male, there was a brief and minor physical interaction between the owner and him where physical contact was instigated by the owner, but some response was made by that male.
Judge Skinner found the male not guilty of the alleged assault and spoke to the issue of someone being on private property after being asked to leave. He stated that the person who is a trespasser, or whose permission to remain on property has been revoked and thereby becomes a trespasser, must have sufficient warning to vacate that property, and also sufficient time to leave that same property.
In finding that those criteria had not been met in this case, he dismissed the charge.
This finding, and the reasoning of the Judge, is notable in cases where farmers or acreage owners find unwanted trespassers on their land and want them to leave. Adequate notice must first be given, then adequate time for the trespasser to leave as requested. If the trespasser does not so act, they may be subject to criminal charges. Somewhat the same criteria should apply in cases where an assault is alleged, but inadequate opportunity is given for that person to correct the alleged infraction.
This case is notable in view of the spate of rural crimes, and the desire for property owners to protect themselves and their property. Judge Skinner's Decision provides some guidance as to how steps should be taken to get trespassers off that property.
Jim MacSween is a Partner with Rowanoak Law Office LLP.