Friday, 28 March 2014

Documents in family law cases can make all the difference

One of the differences between social workers and lawyers is that social workers like to listen to people, while lawyers like to use documents. Documents at times can damn someone’s case in court.

Many years ago I acted for a mother who had acted foolishly, and I figured was at risk of the Family Court judge removing the kids from her care and placing them with dad. That was until I discovered that the father used to obsess about his work and go there for hours, instead of caring for the children. Much as he said that he was caring for the kids, if I could prove that he was at work, then the father must have been lying, and the kids must have been cared for by my client, which would mean that the judge would be unlikely to take the kids off my client.

I quizzed my client carefully to find out if there were any documents that would show his movements. The eureka moment was subpoenaing the father’s security swipe card movements at work. Reams and reams of paper were produced. And what they showed was without doubt- the father was at work at all hours of the day and night- not at home caring for the children as he claimed. He was shown to be a liar, and even more importantly, it showed that my client had cared for the children. The result: only on the basis of the swipe card movements the kids got to stay with my client. Thorough preparation made all the difference.



Anonymous said...

Wow. That's horribly unethical.

Stephen Page said...

Not at all. The job of a lawyer is to be a client's advocate, within the bounds of the law, of course. This includes identifying and if possible gathering necessary evidence. When the judge saw the evidence of when the father logged in and out of work, his Honour realised that the father was not telling the truth about when he said that he cared for the children. The evidence proved the truth of my client's assertions.

Anonymous said...

My partner has been advised that although his ex-wife, who has majority custody of their young son for 5 nights per week, works full time and places their son in child care 2 days per week and with her mother for the 3rd week day of her care and also often leaves him in the care of her mother overnight, this would have no baring on my partner's assertion that he is infact the 'majority care-giver' as he spends the full 3 days and 2 nights of his custody time with his son. My partner is in fact well placed to provide majority care for their son
as he is self employed and can choose his own hours. What are your thoughts? We are based in South Australia.