Family lawyer Justin Lee sees relationships and marriages from both sides: couples come to him before they get married (or move in together) and when the relationship has come to an end. His perspective offers a view of the good, the bad and the ugly. He joins Jess and Brandon to discuss:
Justin is a Toronto-based family & divorce lawyer. He is a graduate of the University of Toronto Law School and is a founder of his own family law firm, JLEE Family Law. He practices in all areas of family law, including high-conflict parenting disputes, complex property issues, domestic contracts, and child and spousal support. You might know him better as the divorce lawyer or “jleejd” on TikTok and Instagram, where he posts divorce-related content to over 450,000 followers across both platforms.
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This is a computer-generated rough transcript, so please excuse any typos. This podcast is an informational conversation and is not a substitute for medical, health, or other professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the services of an appropriate professional should you have individual questions or concerns.
Marriage Advice From A Divorce Lawyer
Episode 314 – Marriage Advice From A Divorce Lawyer
[00:00:00] You’re listening to The Sex with Dr. Jess podcast, sex and Relationship Advice you can use tonight. Welcome to the Sex with Dr. Jess podcast. I’m your co-host Brandon Ware and I’m very excited. For today’s conversation because we are gonna be speaking with Justin Lee, who is a divorce lawyer, gonna be giving us his take on relationships and relationship advice.
[00:00:30] So we’re gonna start right off. Justin, a Toronto based family and divorce lawyer. He’s a graduate of the university Toronto’s Law School, a founder of his own family law firm, Jay Lee, family Law. He practices all areas of family law, including high conflict parenting disputes, complex property issues, domestic contracts, and child and spousal sup.
[00:00:49] Port, but you might know him better as the divorce lawyer or j Lee JD on TikTok and Instagram where he posts divorce related content to over 450,000 followers. I’m one of those followers, so am I. I’m one of 450,000 and I, I gotta say, I really like Justin’s perspective, his insights on Instagram, so I’m excited to dive just a little bit deeper because of course you’re getting short form.
[00:01:14] Content on those platforms and it, it’s interesting because I think everyone in the public eye these days, all the influencers, everyone has something to say about relationships, which I actually think is fabulous. I think it’s really cool to hear so many perspectives. I do think the challenge is when people either pass off their experience as expertise.
[00:01:31] Or assume that their experience can be globalized or is universal. That’s when I get into kind of murky waters in that space. But, uh, Justin to me is the exception. I’ve kind of gone through all of his content I’ve been following for a while, and, uh, man, the relationship advice or insights really are really sound.
[00:01:48] So I’m excited to dive a little deeper into this conversation now. Thank you so much for being here. Um, I’m a huge fan of your content. I have gone through all of your relationship advice on the [00:02:00] other end, and it seems like all of it is. Really sound, and I guess you have this super unique perspective as a divorce lawyer.
[00:02:06] Let’s start there. How did you become a divorce lawyer? Yeah, so thanks for having me. I, uh, it’s a bit of a funny story actually. I, I was in accounting for undergrad and then I said, and then I interned at one of the, the, the, the big accounting firms. And I said, wow, this sucks. I hate this job. And so what am I gonna do with my life?
[00:02:23] And law school sort of made sense to vape. Like to talk, like public speaking and like it’s one of those, like those things my parents were like, well, law would probably suit you. And so, and at the time actually kind of embarrassed to admit that like Suits was like a very popular show. And then so like, did that have an influence on my decision to go to law school?
[00:02:40] Maybe, maybe not. I’m not gonna confirm or deny, but, and then, so I went to law school and then I was still kind of trying to figure out what I wanted to do and a a, as all dean law students do, that you’re trying to pad your resume. And one of the things you can do to pad your resume is you can, um, volunteer for like these, um, extracurriculars that are offered by the law school and these and, and, and other sort of outside programs.
[00:03:03] And one of the programs that sort of caught my eye was like a family law related. Volunteer experience. And then I thought to myself, how funny would it be for me to be able to say to my friends, oh, I’m in divorce Law, like I’m working in the field of divorce. And so almost as like a joke, I applied and I somehow got it.
[00:03:20] And um, when I actually got into the work, I fell in love with it. Um, I really enjoyed it. I. I particularly enjoyed it because, well, when I left accounting, I hated the fact that I was working with corporate entities numbers. It just didn’t have like that human element to it. Family law was like the complete opposite, right?
[00:03:36] You’re working with real problems, uh, of real people every day, right? I mean, how much more real can it get them trying to get custody back for a client of yours, right? Like they’re, they’re children. And so that’s how I got into it. And then I never left. Um, so ever since then I, I, I was a hundred percent in on family law and, uh, and that’s how I’m here.
[00:03:55] All right. Well, we’re gonna dive right into it. I’m gonna ask you hopefully not too broad [00:04:00] of a question. What I wanna know is, what do you wish people knew before they get married about divorce? What should they know going into marriage? Two things, I suppose, right? One is like, possibility of a divorce is, Is always going to be there.
[00:04:13] Possibility of an end of a relationship is always gonna be there. And that’s not something you should shy away from. That’s not something you should be afraid of. It’s something you should face actually. Right. And it’s, and in, in my opinion, those who can, who are comfortable enough and who have the maturity, let’s say, and the responsibility to have these difficult conversations with one another without sort of erupting in emotions and like just getting, going down is, I, I think that’s indicative of somebody who’s in it for like a good.
[00:04:40] Solid ride. Right? And even then you might not last wherever. Um, so that’s the first thing. Um, second thing is like, it won’t be it, there’s nothing specific for you to know except that you need to go talk to a divorce lawyer, right? Like, How the law applies to you in the event of a breakdown of a marriage or a relationship is not public knowledge.
[00:04:58] And it, it’s, you know, I, you know, family lawyers who’ve had been practicing for 20, 30, 40 years are still trying to figure out, right, like actually what is family law? Right? They’re, nobody knows the answer. So all that to say like an average person is not going to understand really, like what happens in the event of a breakdown of the marriage.
[00:05:14] And it’s not like the consequences are quite dire, actually. It can be at least. And so you should walk into it knowing at least. And understand what it is that might happen to not just you, but like your assets, your children, your, the, the life that you build around your marriage and your relationship, right?
[00:05:31] Like, it, it, I mean, when I put it that way, it only makes sense that somebody would want to know before entering into it. But then unfortunately, the reality is that many people would just get married without having any idea about like what it means legally. Right. You know, many decades ago, I think it might have had to do with rose colored glasses where you’re in love and you just can’t wait to get married.
[00:05:51] Marriages changed and the process of getting married has changed. People have oftentimes lived together. They’ve been together for a while. They carry the baggage, not only of previous [00:06:00] relationships, previous cohabitation, but of the current relationship. And I would say my observation is that people shy away from the topic of divorce, from the potential of relationship dissolution.
[00:06:09] Because they don’t wanna admit it’s there. It’s not. Cuz they’re madly in love and the hormones are raging cuz they’re, most people who get married these days in North America are past that stage. They’ve already had sex, they’ve already lived together. Many of them already have sex lives that are getting boring.
[00:06:23] You know, they’ve had many, many fights. They’re not in that honeymoon phase. Anymore. So I, is that your observation? Do people shy away from this because they’re afraid? Is it because they don’t have the communication skills to talk about this? Is it an emotional literacy lacking? Like what is it that holds people back from talking about this essential topic, which is you’ve got about a 50 50 chance of having to see you in the end.
[00:06:45] No, I think it’s, I think it, I think that’s, that’s all right. Right. Like there’s, um, there’s also an element pop culture too, right? Like there, the mass media is not gonna sort of, it doesn’t ever push the idea that the voice is actually can be a normal process and like it should sort of be prepared for it, you know, happily ever after is still this narrative that’s being put out there.
[00:07:03] Which like, I don’t, you know, like nobody should go into a thinking, right? I’m wanting to eventually end the marriage, obviously, but like, Acknowledging the possibility is, is is something that people should sort of acknowledge, I think. But to your point, like people do lack, right? The, um, I mean, I mean it also stems from like their upbringing too, right?
[00:07:21] If our parents have grown up and they’re, they have never sort of had that conversation with their children about Molly and though, which I mean, I acknowledge it could be a very awkward conversation coming from two married parents who, um, two married parents, but like, right. Like, who do we know? I mean, I, at least in my circle, I don’t know anybody who sort of.
[00:07:38] Had an upbringing where they’ve had an open conversations about the fact that divorce can be a normal outcome in a relationship or a marriage, and that you should actually take some proactive steps to mitigate against the risks and actually protect yourself. Right? Like those are very unromantic ideas.
[00:07:53] I get it. But then it’s, and, and, and potentially that’s why like nobody ever talks about it. But I mean, as we’ll talk about today, I’m [00:08:00] sure like it’s so, so, so important that you actually do, right? I mean, I can tell you 90, like a hundred percent of my clients. If I asked them in retrospect, would you have done your research, would you have wanted to know about like what it is, you know, that’s happening to you legally?
[00:08:17] Uh, uh, when you were, when you were, you know, saying your vows and saying, I do, a hundred percent of them would say, I like. Absolutely right. So how do you bring that conversation up? Like you are moving in together or you’re getting engaged, or you’re about to get married in one month. How do you say to your partner, I think we should talk to a divorce lawyer?
[00:08:35] That’s an interesting question because I mean, like, like from my perspective, nobody comes to me asking for advice on how to bring up the conversation. Rather it’s a, it’s after they’ve already had the conversation and then they’re in my office trying to talk to me. But like, I don’t think it’s in a matter of like, how do you bring it up, but it’s more, and this is, I sort of touch on this a lot in, in my content of social media, but it’s like no matter how you bring it up, like the fact that you brought it up, one is, is is what’s important, but two.
[00:09:00] Depending on their react. Right? If their reaction to you bringing up in the first place, regardless of how you brought it, if, if it’s met with complete resistance, complete, oh, why are you thinking about getting a divorce when we haven’t even, right. Then I think that says something about the, you know, their sort of, um, you know, I don’t want to Right, but like, it, it says something about their outlook on the relationship and like if their idea is there’s just no way that we’re ever going to get, um, a separate or get a divorce.
[00:09:30] Um, I think that’s actually a pretty, a pretty dangerous narrative, right? And like, and I use this analogy all the time in, in, in my content, it’s like, you know, when you’re driving in a car, you wear a seatbelt, right? That’s not because you don’t think it’s coherent, that, that you might not get in trash, but like you’re protecting yourself.
[00:09:47] It’s right. And you are acknowledging the possibility that the car crash may happen regardless of your intentions. Right. Divorce and, and Mary is the same thing right in front. My, in my opinion, it’s like if you are going to go in and just not [00:10:00] knowledge the possibility of a quote unquote car crash, and you’re just not gonna wear the seatbelt, well, like good luck to you, right?
[00:10:05] You might survive, but you might not. And that’s the, that, that’s what we’re trying to avoid here. Right, and you bring up the concept of romance, and I think anybody who listens knows that I probably seem like an anti-romantic, but I really think that this is someone who, I’m madly in love. We’ve been together like 20, we’re coming up on, I think 23 years or something.
[00:10:21] Un absurd like that. Life is good. Is it absurd though? Is it, uh oh, no, I’m just kidding. Right. No, it’s, it’s been 22 plus years of living together and I, I feel stronger now than I did before. But you know what, we’ve had these conversations like this podcast. Sparked a conversation between us about would, would we, you know, would we be willing.
[00:10:43] To sign, um, a, a, a prenup today, if we were getting into a relationship, like how would we, we both came to the table with $1 to our names each. So it was easier back then, like we were young. I had, I probably had $3. And you had negative $3. Yes, I definitely had negative money. Yes, but we were talking, uh, yesterday because we were gonna be chatting with you today.
[00:11:03] We were saying, okay, so if one of us had, you know, 10 million in assets and the other had zero, how would we approach this? And I, I’m curious when there are serious discrepancies in assets going in, I imagine that more people consider a prenup, but do you, or I don’t know, in Ontario, for example, people are listening from all over here, but I know you’re based in Ontario and we’re based in Ontario as well.
[00:11:25] Should people have some sort of a premarital agreement around. Assets. Kids. I’ve heard you talk about pets. Do you think that every single person who gets married should talk about this, should sign one. Everybody should talk about it. Right. And I think it’s a little bit of like a myth that everybody needs a prenup.
[00:11:41] I don’t think everybody needs one. Right. For example, if you were considering back in the day when you had negative $1 and he got negative $3, like do you need a prenup? Maybe, but like the. The province already has a prenup drafted for you, right? So that’s the law that applies to you in the event of a mayor’s breakdown or a relationship, right?
[00:11:59] [00:12:00] So in a sense, like it’s not like you’re just being put into this black box and something’s gonna come out without any basis of principle or whatever, right? There’s already, you know, quote unquote prenup drafted for you, right? In a sense that the law will apply. What the, the benefit of drafting a prenup, in my opinion, even, um, is.
[00:12:18] Is is one, right? I mean, two, two false, right? One is you get to decide what happens, right? So you have full control. You and your partner get full control over. This is what we want it to happen in the event that, you know, are happily ever after is not actually forever. And, uh, we don’t want the government to sort of dictate what should happen to our assets, to our life, to our children, et cetera, um, in eventual breakdown of our marriage.
[00:12:43] Second is, Through the process of drafting a prenup, you get to understand, and I’m gonna get a little bit nerdy here, the proper term is full and frank financial disclosure, right? So that’s basically a very formal way of saying you’re going to disclose everything there is to disclose about your finances, and there’s going to be a hundred percent understanding in a, a transparency.
[00:13:02] Of both of your finances before you enter into this agreement. So like, yeah, maybe Brandon’s understanding was that there wasn’t a negative $1 to Jess’s name, but like turns out she’s had $500,000 worth of investments that he didn’t know about and that he only found out through the process of Jock Prenup.
[00:13:18] Right. Sorry to put you guys as an example right there, but like Right. But that’s the point. Right? And that’s the, the value of making sure that you really understand because. Would my advice, let’s say Brandon is my client. Would my advice to him change depending on whether or not Jess had negative $1 to her name or $500,000 name, like absolutely right.
[00:13:37] And my advice to him would be very, very different. So, and all that to say, Brenda would want to know and anybody in that situation would want to know. About the other person’s finances and vice versa. Right? So that’s the real value, in my opinion, of getting a prenup. Then, you know, it also sounds like facilitating this conversation, or even starting this conversation is a bit of revelation, or I could say litmus test as to how much am I willing to [00:14:00] to disclose?
[00:14:00] Because if I’m hiding assets at this point, if I’m playing games, not only financially, I know you deal beyond the finances, but if I’m doing that from the get-go, when we’re. About to get married when we’re about to move in where when we’re in this phase of love that is more passionate, that is probably more positive.
[00:14:16] When we have fewer stressors, we don’t have kids yet. What am I going to be like in the situation where there’s more tense, more tension, more conflict, more strife? I always tell people with big issues, with money, with kids, with religion, with politics, with feelings. Talk about your needs, your wants, your desires, your boundaries, your triggers when you’re not triggered, right?
[00:14:35] It is much easier to talk about money when you’re not fighting about bills. It’s much easier to talk about kids when you’re not in the throes of some sort of, you know, intense experience. And this makes sense for relationships too. So, if somebody were to come to you pre-marriage or pre cohabitation, what should they be asking?
[00:14:51] A divorce lawyer. What? Why should they see a divorce lawyer? Well, so first is that like you should, you wanna understand right about each other’s finances because I mean, at the end of the day, domestic contract when we’re a free up or that’s an American term in Canada, we call it marriage contracts. Um, Oracle cohabitation agreement for people that are gonna live together but not get married.
[00:15:09] It’s really a financial contract. Okay. Right. And there’s, there’s certain things that you actually you can’t do in that contract. And like a lot of them relate to the children for obvious reasons, like, you’re not gonna say it. If we break up, uh, 20 years from now, the kids are gonna be mine, right? Like, you can’t say that in a contract.
[00:15:25] So it’s really a financial document. And you have like, you have a very wide variety of things that you can do in a contract as long as you come to an agreement. It’s not really about what they should be asking me. It’s really about them telling me what they want, right? Like, what is it that they want, right?
[00:15:41] Like what do they, what do they envision? And like what kind of certainty do they want going forward in their life? Right? So for example, if you know that you know, you and your partner have decided that you are going to be the main breadwinner and the other person’s gonna stay home and raise the kids, you can come up with financial provisions.
[00:15:59] [00:16:00] Right in the agreement to account for the fact that that’s the arrangement that you are going to enter into. Right? And to your point, it’s much, much easier to have a conversation beforehand when you’re all, you know, not in a quote unquote triggered than when you are actually in the point of separation.
[00:16:16] Um, and trying to decide who should pay what amount of support to the other person and what amount of money. Right. Like case in point is like, like to go back to that example, if you say, yeah, you know, we’re going to enter, and then I, you know, she’s gonna be the mother of my children. She’s gonna stay home, sacrifice a career, and therefore it’s fair that in the agreement we’re gonna say in the eventual breakdown, If it has been, had been, uh, X amount of years, then I will pay her X amount of dollars in support every month for however many years.
[00:16:43] Right? Very easy to have. The conversation were relatively easier in the beginning, and I’ll tell you like 99% of the times what happens when we have that exact same conversation on the other end. When they’re getting a divorce, they say, She didn’t sacrifice anything for our relationship. I still did the cooking and the cleaning when I came back from work.
[00:16:59] Uh, she just laid around, did nothing. Right? It’s like the same thing could have happened in the relationship, but depending on where you have the conversation, the narrative becomes very, very different. Right? And if you’re having it at the other end, you are, you are going to be emotionally devastated.
[00:17:13] You’re going to be financially devastated. Like it, there’s nothing good about doing it on the other end. So maybe that’s a very long roundabout way of saying like, you should sort of come to me with. Your vision of how do I want this to play out and what is it that I’m looking for? Right? And then we can help you sort of frame the agreement to achieve that goal for you.
[00:17:32] So I have a question here when you talk about drafting, because I’ve never seen a marriage contract. Yeah. I’ve never seen one. Are there ever conditions that you put or somebody’s tried to put. Into a marriage contract where it’s, this is the division of assets, but if one partner cheats on another partner, it changes.
[00:17:47] Like, is there anything like that? Because infidelity is common, right? And all of a sudden, boom, surprise, I’m leaving you, I’m, I’ve been having an affair with somebody else. And it’s like, well, awesome. Clause number two now applies to [00:18:00] the, the distribution of assets. No, that’s an interesting question, right, because I, I, and I see that on TikTok and Instagram so often, and people are so invested in this idea of like, infidelity and like infidelity clause and, and look, I, I, so I can tell you I’ve never seen one, I’ve never seen it in a contract.
[00:18:16] I’ve also done some like light research on it to see if it is even possible. And like, I like the conclusion I came to was, it’s not e there’s no definitive sort of decision from the court El Isof that said this is either possible or not possible, but like, The reading between the lines from the people that have, that have sort of did the research.
[00:18:35] The convey conclusion was that it’s not really enforceable, right? Like the idea of putting it in the contract is, again, I’m gonna be get a bit nerdy on you here, but like the idea of putting a clause in the contract is one thing, but having that be enforceable by the court is another right? You can like, you can put whatever you want in the contract and like if you have, um, Not such a decent lawyer, they’ll just kind of like let you write whatever you want and then they’ll just sign their name on it.
[00:18:59] Problem with that is like if you go to court later, because one person says is it’s not a valid agreement and it’s not gonna hold up in the eyes of the court. It’s like then that contract wasn’t actually worth the paper that is written on. So like, and I, even if it was possible to put in an, my view on that is you are going like, If you are going to get into so much hassle and trouble trying to even enforce that clause, right, because one what qualifies as an infidelity, right?
[00:19:30] Okay. And then let’s say you just know that they like, you know, slept with somebody else in there, in in their, how do you prove. Right cameras. That’s one of his posts. I saw Justin’s posts where he talks about the, the pros and cons of having cameras everywhere, you know, distribution of chores. I’m telling you, everyone should go on and watch your, your Instagram and your TikTok.
[00:19:50] It’s fascinating and you, you always pull from pop culture and, and I think that’s why people like Brandon start to think about infidelity clauses. Well, What about other types of clauses? What [00:20:00] about other elements that lead to re relationship? Dissat, dissatisfaction and dissolution, because infidelity is one of those, I wanna say obvious ones, but it’s actually not because most people who experience infidelity don’t necessarily break up.
[00:20:13] It is very, very common and people can have rich. Meaningful happy relationships post infidelity as well. But we, we’ve created this hierarchy where relationships, tran transgressions are, you know, pinnacle by cheating, right? Like if you have sex with someone else, that’s worse than giving me the cold shoulder for 10 years or treating me like garbage for 10 years, or being emotionally.
[00:20:33] Avoidant, you know, we, we’ve said this thing is worse than the other thing, so why not create a, a clause for emotional unavailability or emotional with, you know what I mean? Like we’ve, we, we like to measure certain behaviors as so much worse than others, but you know that there are many things that lead to divorce and I think that’s where I’d like to go now is there is the reason for divorce on paper and then there are the reasons for divorce that they probably talked to you about in a divorce.
[00:21:00] Lawyer’s office. So I’m curious, what are the pain points that eventually culminate to lead to divorce in your client’s cases? So, can I tell you, it’s interesting because in Ontario, the reason for the breakup of your relationship or your marriage is actually not relevant at all. Hmm. Right? From a legal standpoint, therefore, us family lawyers as, as in, in Ontario at least, We don’t have that much data point in terms of why it is, is it that they broke up?
[00:21:25] Because it’s just not a relevant conversation. You broke up. That’s it. Like that’s the point is that you broke up. Why, why it happened is not really in a, a relevant point, at least from a legal standpoint. Right. Um, but I mean, like you do hear stuff and like affairs are are quite common. But then, but then you, when you hear their story of the affairs, it’s.
[00:21:45] Right. And I, it’s sort of, to your point, Jess, like it’s not just that the affair happened, but like there’s so much history behind the affair. Right? And, and, and that might be why also to your point, that like many people do have satisfying relationship after an affair, whatever, [00:22:00] because why the affair occurred.
[00:22:01] And like people on TikTok hate when I sort of talk about this, but like why it happened usually in two-way street. Like it’s not right. Like we can sort of envision the affair as someone actually pulling the trigger. And you know, but like, there’s so much that has happened throughout the 20 year relationship before the point.
[00:22:20] And like, that’s not the place to blame on anyone. But it’s just to say, it’s just to acknowledge the reality that like somebody’s cheated and therefore they’re the, they’re the perpetrator is not actually, that doesn’t tell the full story. Right. So, yeah. Yeah. Some people will say to me, yeah, if he cheated on me, so therefore, but like when you really get into it, it’s, you know, years something collect.
[00:22:38] Years of Dissatisfactory, uh, uh, uh, relationship dynamic. But like to give, like, is there like a specific, specific data point I can say like, oh, actually 38%, which is the majority, uh, say they broke up for this reason. We don’t have that data unfortunately. What are the issues that you’re seeing? Because I, I saw you post.
[00:22:55] About, I’m sorry, I can’t remember their names. Like the Bieber White, Haley Bieber and somebody else’s drama. And how to you, it doesn’t even look like drama because every day is drama in your field. So what is the drama people are dealing with? Like, it doesn’t have to be data, but in terms of anecdote, what are you seeing?
[00:23:10] Well, okay, so, I mean, I’m gonna, I, I’m, it’s trying to say some of these without getting too specific, but, um, for obvious reasons, but, You know what people, the mass audience would be interested in hearing, I’m sure would be like the stories of how people find out their, their partners been cheating on them.
[00:23:26] So it’s not just like, right, like what you see on movies or whatever. It’s just like you find a string of texts, you find like letters or whatever. It’s not that, right? This is like, this is like you witness in person inadvertently. This is like, you get a pocket dial and then you are literally hearing your spouse and a friend of yours that you recognize through their, not their voice, but their, like, they’re moaning in the bedroom.
[00:23:52] It’s like, it’s, it’s bizarre, right? And then so like, yeah, and then like, so when I, when those are the type of stories that I’m dealing with every day. I mean, [00:24:00] that’s the type of area that I’m hearing on the phone from clients. It’s like whenever I hear about, oh, Hailey Bieber said Disbel, Selena Gomez and the force, right?
[00:24:09] Where’s the real drama here? So that was sort of the point of my, my video there, because you’re dealing with real hurt, like real people’s feelings. Um Oh, for sure. So much suffering. And obviously by the time they come to you, they’ve probably been suffering for more than a day, more than a year, more than two years.
[00:24:23] So many people wait years and years because there’s so much shame in divorce. Now I’m curious on your outlook, because we saw your. Post about the old guy that you were having dinner with and he ordered, he got a tiramisu delivered to him and he got up immediately to run across the room and share the tiramisu with his wife of, I think 30 years because he just knew how much joy she would get from this tiramisu.
[00:24:45] That definitely sounds like us, cuz. Brandon kind of just puts food in his mouth, whereas I’m obsessed with food and I can see him eating something and being like, oh my god, Jess would love this, and running across the room. So you say that those stories, those experiences, those observations kind of restore your faith in love in marriage, even though you’re seeing kind of the.
[00:25:04] The sad outcome of these relationships on a day-to-day basis. I’m curious, like what is your view? Do you view divorce sometimes as a positive outcome? Do you believe in marriage? I know you’ve got that kind of 50 50 shot, but where do you stand on it? I do think the divorce can be a positive outcome, right?
[00:25:21] Like, The worst thing that can happen to you in a relationship is you are feeling stuck, right? And like, if it’s, if your intention is to stay in that relationship and you want a he ever after, like all the best to you, right? And all the power to you, um, but sometimes you, that’s just not like, you might start out that way, but that might, that just not, might not be how it turns out.
[00:25:39] And people change after 20 years of living with someone if they happen to change the person that doesn’t connect with you the same way anymore. What is a shame in saying, okay, like we had a good run and we raised beautiful children, we lived a really good life, but like now it’s time to say our goodbyes and we can stay amicable and can still stay, stay.
[00:25:58] You know, we can still see each other in [00:26:00] Thanksgiving, Christmas and stuff, but like, what is a shame in saying, you know, we now have just have different visions and outlook in terms of what we’ve wanted in life. And so, yeah, I, I. As long as that’s like what you want, I don’t think, like, I don’t view divorce as like a bad outcome at all.
[00:26:14] The problem again is like, problem is a lot of the times people are fracked, they can’t get a divorce in the way that they want to, even if they want it to because they just, and, and this is like a little bit of the muddy area, but like they’ve sacrificed their entire career for 20 years. So like they just don’t have the capacity to be on their own anymore, for example.
[00:26:31] Which is why I always say in my content, like you, you gotta maintain some sort of financial autonomy, right? And independence. Otherwise you’re gonna feel trapped. And I can cut both ways, right? Cuz I mean, that’s just not how, that’s not how everybody wants to arrange their relationship in their marriage.
[00:26:44] So like, I acknowledge that, but like from my perspective as someone who’s trying to mitigate as much risk as possible, like my advice will always be maintain financial independence, maintain a career, don’t leave your job completely, et cetera. Do I believe in marriage? Yes, actually. Right? Like and, and like, people ask me all the time like, do you still believe in love and marriage and do you want to get married?
[00:27:03] My answer is absolutely like I. I hope to be that guy who brings tiramisu to his wife after 40 years of being married to him. Like I genuinely, like, I’m a bit of a hopeless tic in that sense. Um, yeah. You really sound like I, if you ask. Well, I mean, but, well, I was gonna say, but if you ask my past and partners, then maybe they’ll disagree, but like, I, I’d like to think that I am So what about dating, but Right.
[00:27:25] Like, is it, is it hard dating as a divorce lawyer? I didn’t find it to be no. Like, like I’m not dating anyone right now. Um, but that’s not because, that’s not, that has, that has anything to do with like, me being a divorce lawyer. That’s just like, I was in a relationship and that just kind of, it ended in, in, in good on good terms and we just had different outlooks of what we wanted.
[00:27:43] But like, the fact that I am like divorce lawyer has never, ever impacted me, like my personal views on dating or relationships or marriages. And certainly it hasn’t, like, at least from, at least that I know of, certainly it hasn’t, uh, impacted anybody. Like the person on the other end, their perspective of.
[00:27:58] Dating one. Right. And how [00:28:00] that actually might not be, um, ideal. Let’s say. I was curious if people would be like intimidated because I mean, I think about, I wasn’t a sexologist when Brandon met me. I kind of got into the field when we were already deep into the relationship. But I imagine it would be weird for me dating, like I don’t even know that I’d.
[00:28:14] Wanna tell people what I do because of the expectations. I know it’s a little bit different. You’re not expected to do like acrobats in the bedroom, uh, acrobatics in the bedroom or anything like that. Maybe you’re gonna get calls from this podcast. They’re like, oh, he is single now. Give me that number. So when people request the divorce lawyer’s number, I’m not gonna know if it’s for your services or your services, but we’re gonna put, put that out there.
[00:28:35] I think it interesting. That you see, you know, the, perhaps the negative side or the potentially negative side of relationships, but you feel like a hopeless romantic. And I, I wanna quickly say, and I, I’m sure I’ve mentioned this on the podcast before, but I’m the product of, uh, I’m the child of a, of divorce, and my parents have what I call.
[00:28:54] The good divorce and I wrote an article about it very early in my career. I never published it because I felt it was really personal. I wanted to get like really paid for it. And you know, someone offered me like a hundred bucks or something and I just felt it was too personal. But my parents divorced when I was a teenager.
[00:29:07] They communicated clearly with us around it. They have always been kind to one another. They take care of each other. My mom has a new partner who I love the most, and so I have a dad. Biological a mother biologically and, and a stepdad, and they all get along really well. Like Brenda and I were on the road for the last month and my mom and my stepdad go and look out for my dad.
[00:29:26] They bring him food. They like, you know, get him out to go have a coffee. They are my first point of contact for supporting my dad when I’m away. And so I see that as, Something really beautiful. And I’m not saying that my parents went into the relationship hoping for divorce, but it wasn’t a fit. And it, you know, they, I’m not saying they never fought.
[00:29:45] They definitely fought, but, um, they broke up amicably. I think I, I don’t wanna share too much. Sorry. I get a bit nervous folks when I’m talking about my other people because it’s not, Entirely my story to share, but I just think that it was a really positive outcome and gave me a really good view on relationship to solution.
[00:29:58] Obviously, I wanna [00:30:00] stay with you, with Brandon. I, I love this. I love life. I feel like I have the richest life ever in mostly because of this relationship. It’s not the only relationship, but I’m excited and inspired and maybe a little surprised to hear that you’re this hopeless romantic who also sees the, the other side of things.
[00:30:15] If there’s any advice you could give, To folks who are getting married or maybe they’re already in a marriage, what is it you want them to know as a divorce lawyer? Back to the first point, right? Go talk to a divorce lawyer. There’s like, there’s so much for you to understand and know and information is power, right, and you can’t, you can’t plan your life.
[00:30:34] If around, um, you can’t find your life accordingly if you just don’t know what’s coming down the pipeline, what might come down the pipeline. And, and again, if, if anybody’s listening to this and thinking like, but it’s like the idea of even just considering that the breakup might be a possibility is just so.
[00:30:50] Right, like go back to the car, car crash analogy, right? Like, you don’t wear, like, you don’t, you’re not wearing a seatbelt. You wouldn’t enter into a car drive without a seatbelt on just believing that you’re not gonna ever crash. It might happen regardless of your intentions. Same thing, um, for a marriage.
[00:31:06] And the thing is like that, the consequences of a breakdown of a marriage can. It is, it’s life altering. Mm-hmm. Like, it’s not minor stuff. It’s not right like this. These, it’s, it’s not, it’s not something that you just deal with, uh, for like a couple of months and you’re done with, it can change the course of your life forever.
[00:31:22] Right. It’s not like losing a job. It’s, it’s, no got this social, psychological, financial, emotional, personal toll that is long lasting. Listen, you must see people, and I mean, I just see them personally in a different capacity where they’re still talking about a breakup from 10 years ago, from 20 years ago.
[00:31:38] Even from longer. Yeah. Yeah. Like there’s a lot of hurt there. Yeah. And I like the preventative approach because that’s what I think we need in relationships overall. Right. If I would love to, and this is my dream, and I really wanna, I was saying I wanna shift my business model to support people from the onset, like the moment they are considering being exclusive, the moment they are thinking of moving in together the moment they think they’re getting married.
[00:31:58] I feel like that’s an opportunity [00:32:00] to really support people before the hurt, before the resentment, before the issues really settle in. Well, I think it’s hard to think about the idea of separation when you’re. In that lis phase of love, you know, everything feels good. It feels amazing. However, if we look beyond the Disney-esque sort of approach on relationships and that this is the one, and this is it forever, I, I’m like, you know, you go in having had had wonderful conversations, well, okay, maybe not wonderful, but you’ve had the conversations that you need to have meaningful, so meaningful so that everybody understands what the potential outcomes are.
[00:32:30] And to me, the conversations that Jess and I have, I think they strengthen the relationship. I actually think that it, it. Helps with the foundation. And we, you know, to me, every time we have these conversations, even in advance of this, this, uh, chat with you, I’m like, it’s, it’s enlightening and it’s helpful and, you know, yeah.
[00:32:47] Maybe it’s a little scary, you know, the prospect of, but it’s, as you said, it’s knowledge. It’s information, it’s helpful. Absolutely. Sure. For sure. So where can people find out more about your practice? Follow you on TikTok, Instagram, all your, all your channels. So I actually just recently started my own family law firm.
[00:33:03] So, um, if anybody’s looking for a consultation, um, and I’m offering them for free right now. Cause I really believe in, you know, I’m, I really believe in people sort of having access to that information that they, um, so like if they wanna speak to me for free, but they have to be based in Ontario. Cause like I only practice Ontario.
[00:33:21] Anybody in Ontario who wants a consultation with me for anything related to their divorce or their marriage or habitation, um, my website is j l e e family.com, so that’s j lee family.com. Or if they just want to check out my social media and just, you know, get like 32nd bits of tits and it’s of advice here and there.
[00:33:39] My TikTok handle is J L E E J D. Instagram. It’s j l e e dot j d. Okay, perfect. Amazing. I have one last question. I know we have to let you go. Should we see a divorce lawyer even though we don’t plan on getting divorced? Like we’re, we’re, how long have we been married? It was our anniversary the other day.
[00:33:54] 17 years. 17 years. Sorry. I No, no, no. 17 years. But should we also see a divorce lawyer? [00:34:00] Yeah. Like what about people who are already in relationships at, are going, well, you can get, you can, you can get into a marriage contract after the divorce, right? Yes. So, so after the marriage? After the marriage. Um, so certainly and like.
[00:34:11] And look, I, if there is a significant disparity of assets, for example, none, like for anybody that’s listening, uh, that has changed since, uh, you guys have gotten married over the course of the years, then yeah, I would absolutely say you should go see one. Because now how like, I mean, it’s the same for, it’s, it’s the same for those people who are looking now well into their marriage, right?
[00:34:32] Like it’s, it’s just figuring out how do they want the law to apply or how do they want the dissolution of the marriage to look like in the event that it happened. Right. So that remains the same for people who are on the, at the very beginning of their, their marriage or like, they’re like well into it.
[00:34:47] And again, even the intention is that you’re just not, you’re not gonna get a divorce point is that you just never know. And that’s not a bad thing, but you know, to be a little bit crass, like, to sort of not acknowledge that it’s. I think being a little bit delusional, right? Like you always have to acknowledge the, the reality that it’s a possibility, right?
[00:35:02] And in the beginning it’s easy to think like it can’t be us, but I think like 20 years in, I sort of still feel the same way emotionally, but logically, I also know that we need to protect ourselves and I’m also in a place where I would wanna. Protect Brandon like, and I think that’s the time when you wanna be having these conversations.
[00:35:17] Can you represent for sure both of us, like, can we come to you and you draft an agreement for both of us? Or do we each need separate lawyers if we’re not fighting? Yeah, so it’s, so that’s, that’s a good question actually. That’s a good question that I get a lot. Excellent. So you can, only, you, a lawyer can only represent the individual.
[00:35:33] So both of you cannot be represented by one lawyer. It has to be one lawyer for each. But those two lawyers could work collaborative toge collaboratively together on each of our behalfs, if that is the place where we’re starting and hopefully finishing well. And also I absolutely, I don’t think I would oppose anything that you brought forward.
[00:35:49] So, and I say the same. No, just kidding. Yeah, I’m kidding. Well, I, I’ll say I didn’t wanna get into like legalities with you obviously cuz people are all over the place and what applies in [00:36:00] Ontario may not apply and Quebec may not apply in New York, may not apply in France but, and so on. But definitely I think it’s something for, for everyone to consider and we’ll put your website and all of your handles up in the show notes and really wanna say thank you so much for your time today.
[00:36:11] Really appreciate it. Thanks for having me. This was super fun. A pleasure. And thank you for listening wherever you’re at. Hope you’re having a great one. You’re listening to The Sex with Dr. Jess podcast. Improve your sex life, improve your life.
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