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How long does a lawsuit take to go to court?

Self Represented Lady

Are you looking into how long a lawsuit will take to go to court? Divorce cases can go on for a very long time. Read on to learn more.

A self-represented lady took 17 years to resolve a legal issue. I read a great article in the Financial Post and wanted to share the most interesting parts. I considered writing my own article for the media but decided to expand on the article instead.

Everything in brackets in this post is from the Financial Post article.

“A wife’s decision to represent herself caused the husband to incur huge legal fees over 17 years.”

A lot of people see hiring lawyers as an expense and nuisance. This has led to 70% of people in some courts self-representing (they don’t have lawyers.) Let’s say someone has $250,000+ in assets, you need to be willing to spend $10,000–30,000 on a family lawyer to represent you. If you have children, you need to have a family lawyer.

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How long does a divorce court hearing last?

Why would someone risk their assets, time, and children to make an attempt to save $10,000–30,000?

Further, a judge can award a child or spousal support payments. These payments can go on for many years. Judges can also award court costs.

If you have enough money to hire a lawyer, hire a lawyer. Self-representing is similar to doing surgery on yourself because you don’t want to deal with the doctors or hospitals. Would you do that?

I also want to point out that spending 17 years in litigation is a similar time period as serving a life sentence in Canada for murder. They will never get those years back.

There is also the opportunity cost. In those 17 years, if she had taken all the time she spent on the court case and worked those hours in employment, she would be far better off financially.

A lawsuit can take 17 years if you are not careful.

court undertaking

How long does a court undertaking last?

It can easily be a few years. Read below about the case that went on for seventeen years.

“While self-representation is the only option for many people due to their financial resources (a broader discussion of access to justice is beyond the scope of this article), for those with resources, the decision to self-represent may be quite costly in the end.”

I completely agree. If you only have a few thousand in the bank account, legal aid or self-representation might be your only hope. But if you can afford it, get a family lawyer to help you. It’s worth considering a self-representation ban for people over a certain income.

Sometimes it might be possible to pay your lawyer out of the proceeds of your divided assets. It may also be possible to have a delayed payment plan put in place. Reach out to some law firms and ask.

A lawsuit can take many years to go to court. It is not a fast process.

“The wife, according to the judge, did not express her position with any sort of clarity, leaving the judge without an appreciation of how she wanted costs to be resolved.”

This is why lawyers are important. They make your argument clear so a judge can understand it.

“…(let us not be so naive to ignore) the choice by some to act for themselves because they think the judge will be forced into being their advocate.” Justice Conlan, Ontario Superior Court

More likely than the judge being their advocate, the judge might become angry with the self-represented individual. This could actually turn the judge against them. Courts are not friendly places and there is limited information about how the courts run. Legal jargon can also be very confusing.

Lawsuits Take A Long Time

“The wife’s decision to represent herself caused the husband to unnecessarily incur substantial legal fees. The wife was ordered to immediately pay the husband costs of $150,000.”

This is a powerful statement about wasting the court’s time and the opposing parties’ money. Had she hired a lawyer, it is likely that the issues would have been settled in a few years (or sooner in settlement) instead of 17 years.

What a waste of time and money.

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Lawsuit take to go to court FAQ

Do I need a family lawyer?

It will depend on your situation. The best thing for you to do is to get a free consultation with a lawyer. You can then learn about the process and the costs.

Does legal aid help with custody cases?

Legal aid does cover family law cases if you are low income. Keep in mind that many clients on legal aid do not get the same attention as regular clients. Many legal aid lawyers have hundreds of clients at the same time!

Is family law provincial or federal?

It’s actually both. That is what makes it so confusing. Every province has their own provincial laws. But the Divorce Act also applies (and is federal.) You have to learn at least two Acts for family law.

What questions should I ask family lawyer?

It’s better to tell the lawyer about your case and answer the lawyers questions. Let the lawyer determine what is important in your case. They know what the courts will want to see.

At what age can a child decide where they want to live?

Each province has their own laws. There can be other complications as well if the child has a handicap. Common ages are 18 or 19 years old.

What are my legal rights in a divorce?

You have a lot. There is a provincial Act and a federal Act that determines your rights and obligations You should definately speak to a lawyer about this question.