Although now 10 years old, Tug of War: A Judge’s Verdict on Separation, Custody Battles, and the Bitter Realities of Family Court, by Justice Harvey Brownstone of the Ontario Court of Justice, remains an insightful and powerful read on the uses and misuses of family court. For anyone who likes to do their research – and anyone who is embarking on a separation, especially when children are involved – should absolutely do their research, I cannot recommend this book enough.
Justice Brownstone writes about, among other things, when court may be necessary, alternatives to litigation, why you need a lawyer and how to choose one and measure their performance, and some of the ins and outs of custody (decision-making) and access (parenting) language and law.
Although Justice Brownstone writes from within the Ontario perspective, and so not all the law will be applicable in Nova Scotia, his comments are relevant, accurate and spot-on when he discusses the potential harms caused by family law litigation and the profound impacts on relationships between parents, as well as between parents and children.
My favourite image may be Justice Brownstone’s description of an angered ex who throws his spouse’s expensive sweaters in the dryer, shrinking them all to a miniature size. Of course, while this man’s actions were completely inappropriate and immature, much greater damage can be caused when individuals do not cope well with a separation.
It is often just as important for a family law lawyer to discuss what other resources may be appropriate and helpful to clients, such as the involvement of psychologists, family therapists or financial advisors, as it is discussing the law and what legal processes are appropriate in a client’s circumstances. I believe that resources such as Tug of War can be invaluable as well.
Tug of War is available to buy online and locally, or it is available through the Halifax Public Library with call number: 346.71015 B885t.
If you are involved in a separation involving children and are looking for legal advice, please contact us for a free 30 minute consultation.