The Swear Jar: A Passionate Podcast about Peaceful Separation

Episode-15-Obstructing Parenting Time and Moving Towards Reasonableness-02-09-2017

We hope that our listeners never have to deal with kidnapping and it can be a stressful issue to consider when you are going through a separation.  It is an issue that comes up in our practice, both in terms of someone claiming “kidnapping” when it is not in fact the case, and unfortunately there are times when kidnapping actually occurs.  As with most issues in family law, the answer to whether the removal of the children from the home is kidnapping is, “It all depends on the facts in issue.”  In this issue we explore circumstances in which claims of kidnapping arise, and how kidnapping is not the same as leaving the family home with the children.  Are there particular circumstances when a parent can leave the family home with the children, without telling the spouse?  Jessica and Anouk explore circumstances where the answer is “yes.”    The consequences when the children have been withheld from the other parent, can be significant, once the matter  is before the court, and can result in the absconding parent to have severely restricted access to the children.  What are the possible outcomes of a parent withholding the children and when is it considered acceptable?  There is a difference between unsafe parenting and disappointing parenting and this difference is explored in this episode.  What are the responsibilities of the withholding parent?  This is a very nuanced issue and we hope that this discussion provides you with some practical issues in your separation so that it can be peaceful and healthy for all involved.

Episode-14-Conduct-and-Protection-Orders-01-15-2017

While in common parlance we talk about “restraining orders”, in British Columbia we actually now call them “protection orders”.  In this episode we discuss the introduction of protection orders, the intention of protection orders and the practical application of how effective this change has been, along with how these orders are different from the previous FRA restraining orders.  What exactly does a protection order prohibit, in terms of the offending person’s behavior and who can be the subject of a protection order?  A necessary component of this discussion is the expansive definition of “violence” in the Family Law Act.  This discussion leads us to explore when a protection order is appropriate and the factors a court looks at in assessing the reasonableness of issuing a protection order?   In addition, we explore the benefit of the underrated “conduct order” and the flexibility of this alternative and why we find it to be an incredibly helpful addition to conflict resolution in the family law forum.

Episode-13-Expert Evidence-02-07-2017

Anouk and Jessica wade into the complex question of, "Who is an expert in court?", "What is it that an expert witness can provide in court?" and "How is an expert introduced in court?" With a focus on how expert testimony is often requested in family law, Anouk and Jessica explore the types of expert opinions that are often requested in the family law context including:

  • Annual income reports
  • Section 211 reports (and how this is different from a "Views of the Child Report")
    • privately funded reports vs. publicly funded reports
  • Doctor’s report vs. independent medical exam regarding ability to work
  • Provincial Property Assessment vs. property appraisal

A common dispute that arises in family law disputes is a disagreement between parties on which expert to retain. Anouk and Jessica explore how such a dispute is resolved.

Once you have your expert report, is it reasonable to expect that expert witness will attend at court to testify?

Episode-12-Introduction of Evidence-01-25-2017

In this rapid-paced and informative episode, Anouk and Jessica dig into the discussion of the fundamentals of evidence in the Family Law context. While exploring this issue, they examine: what evidence is, when do you need to bring evidence to the court, and the importance of making sure that the evidence you bring forward is relevant. They explore the difference between ‘verbal testimony’ and ‘written testimony’ and the implications and importance of making statements ‘under oath’.

Are you contemplating putting 17 letters into your affidavit about what an amazing parent you are and what a jerk the other person is? Before you do that, listen to the portion of the podcast where Anouk and Jessica discuss the issue of opinion evidence and its practical usefulness in the context of court. Leading with emotion is a common challenge for many of us, but does it really help in court? And dare I say, did I just hear you say ‘Hearsay’? You’ve heard that word before, but Anouk and Jessica take a stab at explaining what it means. Finally, Anouk and Jessica talk about how to enter documents as evidence both in court and in your affidavit.

Episode-11-The Business of Parenting-12-22-2016

One of Anouk’s most favorite topics ever (aside from French cheese, singing, Netflix, and puppies) is explored: the Business of Parenting. In this episode, Anouk and Jessica dialogue about the usefulness of seeing a separated family structure as a business, the long-term benefits of this and strategies for moving the relationship from the past intimacy to a more focused dialogue of parenting. This includes creating a mission statement for your parenting relationship and how the ongoing reference to that mission statement can help guide you through the newness of parenting with your ex-partner. They discuss specific barriers and strategies to an effective parenting relationship, including:

  1. Moving away from the personal relationship;
  2. No longer seeking the praise of your ex-partner;
  3. Stop using your emotional unhappiness as the basis to enter a dialogue;
  4. Accept responsibility as a leader for your family;
  5. Do not speak poorly of your business partner
  6. Assess your opinions before sharing them and determine before sharing if it will realistically have some positive benefit.
  7. Move away from fighting about opinions and focus on the problem solving to achieve an outcome.

Enjoy the long pauses where Anouk and Jessica rifle thorough a bunch of swear words in their minds, while they search for terms that will not result in a complaint to the Law Society.

Episode-10-Guardianship and Parenting Responsibilities-12-14-2016

Truth be told, Anouk and Jessica had to stop recording multiple times to contribute to the Swear Jar as they explored the issue of guardianship. In this politely edited version, Anouk and Jessica set out the very limited use that the traditional terms of guardianship and custody have in BC’s current dialogue about parenting. You didn’t expect us to say that, did you? That’s right! Parenting discussions in a separation context are now governed by language that is rather uncommon in the broader society. Anouk and Jessica begin this discussion, and explore the new understanding of guardianship. AND… AND… they discuss Anouk’s most favorite section of the Family Law Act, section 41. How can any lawyer be excited about any piece of legislation? Just take a listen.

After all of that excitement, Anouk and Jessica take a critical look at "Joint parenting responsibilities" and the necessity of specificity in agreements. They consider the practical administration of family matters, and the responsibility of guardians to contribute to decision making for children productively rather than in a power-focused manner. Finally, Anouk and Jessica pull the term "CONTACT" out of the general social context and explore its legal meaning.

Episode-9-Legal Research-12-03-2016

Despite a mic-mishap and Anouk’s dependence on herbal cough drops… Anouk and Jessica take on the potentially boring topic of legal research. They bring a practical approach to how a lay person can build their knowledge of the law and explore options of the use of court house libraries, academic law libraries and online resources. Importantly, Anouk and Jessica discuss the issue of geographic relevance of the research, and the consideration of the level of court you are attending at when researching cases. Fantastic online resources are also discussed.

Episode-8-Questions Not To Ask-11-25-2016

What the what!? Is there any question that is off limits when talking with your lawyer? Anouk and Jessica say that in fact there are a few topics that shouldn’t be part of the dialogue between a client and their lawyer and explore why they have this perspective. They explore their opinions on asking for a lawyer’s personal opinion or personal experience and how that is not helpful to the lawyer and client relationship. They also explore how a lawyer’s ongoing objectivity and separateness from a personal relationship with a client is particularly important. Finally, they explore the popular myth that the lawyer is there to execute any and all instructions provided by clients.

Episode-7-Wellness During Your Separation -11-09-2016

In episode 7, Anouk and Jessica discuss the struggles they commonly see when a person is going through separation. They offer suggestions on how to maintain personal wellness and the practical benefits of having this as a healthy focus. They explore the meaning of a `holistic perspective`, in the family law context, and the importance of attending to spirituality in the process of separation. In addition, they discuss the importance of a non-attached perspective to the exploration of settlement and considering the other person`s perspective.

Episode-6-Child Support Part 3 Hardship Claims-10-25-2016

It’s true… sometimes it feels like the lawyers just won’t stop talking. In this episode, Anouk and Jessica are STILL talking about child support, because … it’s important. In this episode they focus on the hardship claims: what exactly is a hardship claim, undue hardship as compared to expected hardship, what factors can attract such a claim and a "reasonableness" approach.

Episode-5-Long term considerations with child support-10-19-2016

Anouk and Jessica continue to discuss child support. In this episode they focus on the importance of documenting child support payments, financial disclosure, and annual reviews. They also explore the practical use of an Annual Income Report, and how to determine child support if the income is non-taxable. They also discuss issues that come up frequently when individuals see a lawyer for the first time, including: the practice of withholding child support when a payor does not have time with children, who decides how child support dollars are spent, the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (FMEP), and tools of recourse available to FMEP when child support is not paid. Finally, they explore changing child support by consent.

Episode-4-An Introduction to Child Support-10-12-2016

Anouk and Jessica wade into the never ending discussion of child support. To begin this dialogue, they discuss how child support is calculated in primary parent situations and shared parenting situations, imputing income, circumstances for changing child support when employment income changes, and considerations when looking at self-employment income for the purposes of determining child support. This is a discussion that they will likely be coming back to again and again, so this first episode is an important building block.

Episode-3-Representing Yourself to Pro-Bono Considerations for Family Lawyers-09-26-2016

Anouk and Jessica continue the discuss of resource challenges for clients in Family Law. In particular, Anouk and Jessica explore why the concept of "Pro Bono" is so difficult in the area of Family Law, and why a client’s financial contribution to their legal file can be beneficial to a practical outcome. They also engage in a discussion on their differing perspectives of Pro Bono work in family law and the challenges that arise for lawyers who accept files through the Legal Aid Services. As always, they bring a practical and honest dialogue to these issues.

Episode-2-Representing Yourself Free and Inexpensive Resources-09-19-2016

Anouk and Jessica begin a discussion about building knowledge and receiving legal supports for the self-represented litigants. They explore requirements for Legal Aid services and the challenge of pro bono work in the family law context, as well as exploring community resources such as Advocates, Pro Bono Lawyer program, Student Legal Services, Duty Counsel, Law Line and tips about preparing yourself for meeting with Duty Counsel.

Episode-1-Mediation and Litigation-08-28-2016

Anouk and Jessica introduce themselves, their practice perspectives, what mediation is all about and how it differs from litigation.