5 Divorce Questions: Interview of Nova Scotia Lawyer Terrance G. Sheppard by Russell Alexander
This week we interviewed Nova Scotia lawyer Terrance G. Sheppard. Terry’s experiences with issues relating to surrogacy, adoption, divorce, child support, parenting time and spousal support have taught him that no matter what the circumstance, people want to be treated with respect, be provided with insightful and practical guidance and trust that the one they are listening to is hearing them. Terry’s goal is to ensure that the family unit is treated with respect and understanding during a difficult time.
Russell Alexander: “How often do people ask you for advice or guidance about separation and divorce and in which jurisdictions do you practice in?”
Terrance G. Sheppard: “Every day of the week, I give advice and guidance about separation and divorce to new and existing clients. My Family Law practice is throughout the province of Nova Scotia. My Fertility Law practice, however, is throughout Canada, and indeed, global. Not many weeks go by that I do not get a call from someone asking about egg donation, surrogacy, parenting declarations in various maritime provinces, etc.”
Russell Alexander: “What are the biggest concerns people raise with you about separation and divorce?”
Terrance G. Sheppard: “The biggest concern people raise with me is always their children; for example, will they still be able to have meaningful relationship with their children after separation and divorce; will they have the financial resources to make sure the children are cared for, etc.”
Russell Alexander: “What advice do you have for people looking for a family lawyer?”
Terrance G. Sheppard: “My advice for people looking for a family law lawyer is to find one who practices predominantly in the area of family law. You may not necessarily need the high-priced divorce lawyer with decades of experience if, for example, your matter is fairly straightforward and most issues are agreed upon, but you always want someone who is experienced in this area of the law. Feel free to ask questions when interviewing potential family law lawyers. No family law lawyer worth their salt will balk at being asked questions like, how much of your practice is family law; have you done cases like mine before; how long have you been practicing in family law.”
Russell Alexander: “What are the top 3 tips you have for people going through a divorce?”
Terrance G. Sheppard:
1) Do not be shy about seeking help. Going through a separation or divorce is one of the most stressful things people have to face in their lives. This is the time to call in all those favors from friends and family. Talk to a good family law lawyer, of course, but also talk to a counselor if you need it, get advice from a good financial advisor, talk to your accountant, talk to your children’s teachers and daycare providers to see how the children are adjusting, etc.
2) When making any decisions involving your children, keep your eye on the long game. It is far too easy for people to focus on the short term when they are going through the crisis of a separation or divorce. For example, whether the child has that one extra overnight per week with you or the other parent may seem crucial now; however, when both parents are at that child’s wedding in 10 or 15 years, they may very well wonder why they spent so much time and money fighting over it.
3) Work with your lawyer. Speak candidly to your lawyer and formulate realistic goals and expectations as early as possible in the representation. Be organized, come to meetings prepared, and expect no less from your lawyer. Respond to your lawyer’s request in a timely manner. Your lawyer may, for example, ask you for documentation that seems onerous, but will greatly assist them in preparing your case and is probably required by the court in any event.
Russell Alexander: “What do you envision for the future of family law?”
Terrance G. Sheppard: “The future of family law is in the growing area of fertility law. Traditional concepts of custody, access, support, property, and even parenting itself, are being stretched when children are being born into families with three parents on the birth certificate, with known sperm donors wanting some involvement with their biological offspring, or when one piece of the property being divided on marriage breakdown is a frozen embryo or donated sperm.”