Letter: Procedures to blame for family law costs

The article by Yamri Taddese (see “Cases involving $2M in fees show how family law costs can spiral,” May 11) on family court costs is instructive but not for the reasons so many of the commentators quoted seem to be indicating.

The fact that lawyers can run up $1 million in costs arguing about sleepover arrangements shows only what most of us have known for years: the courts are
becoming more and more the playground of the rich. Despite many statements from the judiciary and the Law Society of Upper Canada about providing legal service for those of limited means, the legal system (especially in civil and family law) continues to focus on the needs of the rich and powerful. And every time there are revisions to the rules of court, you can be sure that it is to make life more complicated for lawyers and litigants while giving more power to court clerks.

A simple example is the requirement for financial statements in support matters. Prior to the so-called support guidelines, the financial statement for support matters was a simple three-page document. At that time, judges paid attention to income, expenses, and taxes. Financial statements for support are now approximately 10 pages and growing. Since the support guidelines have been introduced, judges pay no attention to anything other than gross income.

So the guidelines are now the law in practice, yet litigants are forced to fill up a form with ignored numbers. So lawyers get blamed for requesting information that most often will not influence the case and having to charge fees for completing a 10-page form where only one item matters.

LEROY CROSS,
Toronto

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