A particular concern to parties involved in a Family Court proceeding is the cost of legal fees. While there are alternative means of resolving disputes, sometimes a party has no choice but to be involved in a Family Court proceeding.
Almost without exception, lawyers charge by the amount of time spent working on a file. The hourly rate charged by a lawyer often takes into account the lawyers years of experience and the lawyers overhead costs.
Relative to the issue of costs are all the forms which now must be completed and which are mandated by the authorities as part of the Family Court process. It seems that every other year, the authorities introduce an additional form to be completed by the parties. If you don’t complete all the forms and or complete the forms improperly, you’ll be denied the opportunity to have your case heard by the court.
In my opinion, all these forms are not necessary. In actual practice, most of the forms are not read by the Judge presiding over a case. In most instances, the Judge will instead rely upon a Conference Brief.
A Conference Brief is a document containing a summary of that party’s version of the facts and what Order that party seeks from the court.
I am in favor of reducing the number of forms to be completed. For example, a party should only be required to complete an Application and Financial Statement, if they are the party commencing the Family Court proceeding. A Responding party should only be required to complete an Answer and Financial Statement.
Simplifying the forms will reduce the amount of time required by the lawyer and thereby reduce the costs to the client. This will make the process more affordable to clients and allow better access to justice.