In the News

  • An interview with Judge Harvey Brownstone: Advice for Family Lawyers

    Josh D. Simon
    Family Lawyer Magazine Contributing Writer

    Family Lawyer Magazine spoke with Judge Harvey Brownstone, who has been sitting on the family law bench for over a decade, and asked him to share some advice for family lawyers on how they can be more successful and better serve their clients. Judge Brownstone shared six outstanding tips with us. 

    1: Know and respect your client’s emotional stage.

    It’s rare that divorcing spouses are at the same emotional stage. It’s far more common – in fact, it’s the norm with very few exceptions – for one spouse to have emotionally disengaged from the marriage months, or even years before formal divorce proceedings begin.

    And while it’s an overstatement to say that even the most emotionally prepared spouse is 100% ready for what the real divorce experience holds in store – with all of its uncertainties, stresses, procedures, complex children’s issues and of course, costs – it’s true that the spouse who initiates the divorce is almost always in much better shape to make key divorce decisions: what to do with the house, how to tie up the loose ends, and so on.

    Family lawyers therefore do their client – and themselves, for that matter – an immense service by paying close attention to their client’s emotional stage. Are they emotionally disengaged, and therefore capable of seeing their divorce as a business transaction? Or are they reeling from having the “divorce bomb” dropped on them from above, and can’t separate the emotional issues from the practical ones?

    If it’s the latter – and it’s not difficult for a perceptive, attentive family lawyer to quickly evaluate this – then my advice is clear: family lawyers should get their client into heavy duty counseling at the earliest possible opportunity.

    Why? Obviously because their client is suffering deeply and perhaps even emotionally shattered, and attending to that serious problem ASAP is why professional counseling exists in the first place. But in addition to that, in the context of the divorce, family lawyers need to equip and empower their clients to separate the emotional issues from the business ones, so they can make wise, long-term decisions now — and not later, after the divorce is finalized, and when it’s too late.

    I won’t suggest that counseling during divorce can totally heal clients – for most spouses divorce is traumatic, and it can take years for the healing to completely finish (if ever). But with that being said, counseling helps clients get to a point where they can make objective, well-considered decisions regarding their divorce. And frankly, that’s what clients want, that’s what their children want, that’s what judges want, that’s what family lawyers should want, too.


    Category: In the News

    Tags: advice for family law lawyers, harvey brownstone, family-matters, family lawyer magazine

    By Nancy - February 27, 2012
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  • Literacy in the Courts

    Frozen moment of judicial compassion

    By Valerie Mutton

    November 11 2011 issue Lawyers Weekly

    Justice Harvey Brownstone presides at a suburban Toronto building in which 6,000 family court cases are open at any given moment. It is the busiest such setting in the country. But when he senses someone appearing before him has difficulty reading, he doesn’t mind taking a moment, slowing things down and carefully guiding the proceedings to make certain everyone grasps what’s going on. In a venue with no shortage of painful vignettes, these moments form poignant contrasts...


    Category: In the News

    Tags: Lawyers weekly, literacy, brownstone

    By admin - November 8, 2011
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  • Best-selling book on issues facing family court system leads to online talk show

    By the Honourable Justice Harvey P. Brownstone

    We are all aware that the single most important area of law that touches more people's lives than any other is family law. This is because family breakdown has reached epidemic proportions in North America, due in part to the facility and speed with which the multiplicity of social networking websites on the internet have enabled people to embark upon and terminate relationships. In recent years, family courts across the continent have become clogged with an avalanche of unsuccessful short-term relationships – relationships that were just long enough to produce a child. There is every reason to assume that this trend will continue as more and more people choose to engage in intimate relationships with partners they barely know.

    Despite the widespread incidence of relationship breakdown, most people I encounter in my courtroom are remarkably ignorant of even the most basic principles of family law. The fact that in most major centers in Canada, up to 70% of all family court litigants are self-represented, only makes the problem worse. And the fact that a great number of family court cases involve vulnerable children caught in the middle of high conflict parental disputes, makes the situation urgent for the parents and children involved...

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    Category: In the News

    Tags: article, brownstone, cba, tug-of-war

    By Family Matters - September 30, 2011
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  • Law Times: Inside Queen's Park: Ontario judge’s TV show has legs

    Inside Queen's Park with Ian Harvey


    Ian Harvey's Law Times interview with Justice Brownstone & Nancy Kinney:

    Move over, Dr. Phil. Here comes the judge, as in Ontario Court Justice Harvey Brownstone.
    The Toronto family court judge has added a new jurisdiction to his purview on Tuesday nights at 10:30 p.m. on CHCH TV in Hamilton, Ont., as well as the CHEK network...

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    Category: In the News

    Tags: brownstone, ian-harvey, law-times

    By Family Matters - September 26, 2011
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  • Family Court Justice Harvey Brownstone Reflects on Changes, Issues, and Trends on Divorce in the Last 15 Years

    Our Interview with Justice Harvey Brownstone

    DM: Justice Brownstone, from your perspective on the bench, what divorce issues have changed the most over the last 15 years?

    JB: There are three things that have changed the most in the past 15 years. They are the Internet, the Internet, and the Internet! Judges have witnessed a complete revolution in both the composition and, unfortunately, the decomposition of relationships because of the Internet. And this has led to an avalanche of failed relationships that the court system must somehow deal with. And when I say avalanche I’m not exaggerating. It’s truly an avalanche. There’s no other way to describe it.

    DM: How has the Internet helped create this avalanche?

    JB: For starters, the problem today is that the Internet makes it so easy for people to meet and convince themselves that they’re madly, deeply in love. Of course most of them aren’t in love. They’re infatuated, excited, and swept up in the fantasy. They can pretend to be someone they aren’t, and they can just as easily be vulnerable to someone else’s deception...

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    Category: In the News

    Tags: brownstone, divorce, divorce-mag, internet

    By Family Matters - September 26, 2011
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  • Roy Green Show

    Justice Brownstone is on the Roy Green Show today at 1pm Vancouver time (Sept. 18). Listen in on your local radio station in Vancouver, Kamloops, Kelowna, Regina, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, London, Hamilton and Toronto. Or listen in online:


    Category: In the News

    Tags: brownstone, roy-green

    By Family Matters - September 18, 2011
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  • Family Matters: Vancouver Sun

    Ontario judge hits airwaves to sate appetite for legal info

    'I'm changing the judicial culture,' he says

    By Ian Mulgrew, Vancouver Sun September 14, 2011

    Trail-blazing Ontario judge Harvey Brownstone is moving to television and dragging other jurists with him, as he single-handedly tries to transform judicial culture.

    The first Canadian judge to declare he was gay, the first to produce a best-selling book on marriage wars and the first to push the envelope with an Internet talk show, Brownstone says he is ramping up his charisma and flamboyance.

    The country's hidebound judiciary is holding its breath - how far will he go this time? Manitoba Chief Justice Richard Scott, chair of the Canadian Judicial Council's conduct committee, has already predicted "somebody is sure as heck going to file a complaint . about something the judge has said on the air."

    Category: In the News

    Tags: brownstone, mulgrew, new-season, vancouver-sun

    By Family Matters - September 15, 2011
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