This part of our Web site is dedicated to helping parents without lawyers do better in obtaining equal time shared parenting in court. We deal with the present legal system as we find it – still biased against fathers and with all its faults. We leave it to others to carry on the very important task of winning legal and political reforms.
What this section contains:
This section will try and contain as much as possible to help a parent who cannot afford a lawyer or is not eligible for Legal Aid to understand the Rules of the Game. No one should regard what they read here as “legal advice”, but rather, our way of giving you pointers on how to think, behave, react and carry out your case.
This is a very long page … How the Game is Played
How to Win in Court
The way to win in Court is to have the facts of your case fit as closely as possible to the current or advancing state of the law as found in already decided and reported cases. We have assembled the relevant case law on “joint custody vs sole custody” and most of the recent court judgments awarding equal time shared parenting under many different sets of facts.
Check out this case to see how a father can succeed on his own in court. David v David
There are two types of judgment reported here: Interim and Final. “Interim” orders are those first obtained on early court or chambers hearings, and are meant to be temporary, although they can last for years. “Final” orders come only after a trial. Equal time shared parenting is being ordered more often than ever in “Final” orders. More importantly, it is occurring in “Interim” orders as well. We have written a long article on the law including the leading cases on shared parenting for any father needing to act on his own.. Click here for the article.
Which Court Should You Be In?
In British Columbia there are two different court systems that have jurisdiction over family law matters: The Provincial Court of British Columbia, Family Division, and the Supreme Court of British Columbia. There are many important advantages to being in the Supreme Court and nothing but problems with being in Provincial Court.
Both Courts can deal with custody and guardianship, parenting plans and both spousal and child support. Only the Supreme Court can order a divorce and divide up property. Provincial Courts are found in most commiunities while Supreme Courts are found only in the larger cities.
Once a matter is started in Provicial Family Court it is almost impossible to get it moved up to the Supreme Court. Therefore, if you have chance to determine into which court your own case will go, put it in Supreme Court. This means you may have to make the first move in Supreme Court before the other parent gets into Provincial Family Court.
Pros and Cons of Each Court
DISCOVERY: One of the most valuabe and useful proceedures available to a party in any action commenced in the Supreme Court is the Discovery process. Both sides are entiled to know about and have copies of any and all documents in the pocession of the other side that might relate to the case. As well, each side can make the other party go before a Court Reporter to be sworn to tell the truth and answer any questions the relate to the matter. A transcript may then be typed up of that persons evidence and used in later court applications or at trial. This discovery process is a major contribution to settling cases and for determining the true issues that divide the parties. It is an invaluable tool. It is NOT available in Provincial Family Court. The result in Provincial Court is that you really never know the other sides case until you are actually in court, and then one or both sides usually get ambushed by surprises. It is ineffeciant, you can’t really prepare properly, time consuming and totally unfair.
CONTEMPT: If a person disobeys a Supreme Court order – such as denying parenting time to the other parent – the offending party can be held in contempt and various punishments are available to the court. There is no such power or proceedure in Provincial Family Court.
Even though there are many biases against fathers and shared parenting built into the legal aid system, we urge anyone without funds seeking shared parenting to try and get legal aid. Too many cases in family courts throughout British Columbia are mothers on legal aid trying to remove fathers from the lives of children. The government is thus an active and willing accomplice in damaging children.
Often a mother who calls the relationship off and ends up with the children can get legal aid with an income more than the father who can’t get legal aid. Legal Aid is not a good system but it is often all that is available to some fathers.
Of course the biggest abuse of the government funding a parent to push the other parent out of the lives of their children is that there is absolutely no incentive for the parent getting the free ride to want to seriously negotiate or settle a matter they know is costing the other parent a fortune. Lawyers historically are not supposed to mention in court that a person is on legal aid. It is therefore very frustrating, and the height of system/hypocrisy, to hear a well-meaning judge advise the two conflicting parents, “You look like intellegent people and you should both try and save yourselves a lot of money and settle this case.” When we hear that comment where the other parent is on legal aid, we now advise the judge of that fact.
The financial guidlines change from time to time, so always check. For family matters, a single parent with one child must have income ( from all sources) per month of no more than about $1,412; with two children $1,647; three children $1,821. But be sure to check first.
What can you do if the other parent is on Legal Aid, but you suspect shouldn’t be?
Some people lie about their income to make it low enough to qualify for legal aid. Sometimes this person’s legal aid lawyer knows the client should not be on legal aid but will say nothing. Whenever we have good grounds of suspicion a parent is on legal aid trying to remove our client from the lives of the children and their income is higher than the legal aid guidelines, we write a letter of complaint to the Legal Services Society. You can do the same thing. You will never get an answer, but only a promise they will investigate a confidential matter. Where we think a lawyer may know he/she is improperly getting paid by legal aid, we request an inquiry into that also. Because the Legal Services Society remains completly unaccountable to anyone for what they do with your letter, we doubt much actually gets done. But it is worth the try.
Phone your nearest Legal Services Society office and ask for a Record of Complaint Form. Fill it out and fax it to Complaints Coordinator, Audit & Investigations Department at fax number 604-682-0979. Mail a copy to your MLA.
Our office does not take Legal Aid clients.
For information on how to get legal aid, go to The Legal Services Society of B.C. website.