Parenting & Family

give up law school for children?

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  • May 17th, 2019 5:22 pm
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[OP]
Jr. Member
Jun 23, 2017
138 posts
43 upvotes

give up law school for children?

Hi
I am about to make a decision soon. I applied to several Canadian law schools (Juris doctor) last year and so far, I've got some offers but none of them is in GTA areas. Although there still some Ontario school hasn't given out rejection to me yet, I feel that my chance of staying in the GTA area is getting smaller every day. The only Ontario one I have now is UWindsor and it's 1+-hour flight or 5 hours drive to Toronto downtown. I also have got offers from other law schools such as U Alberta but they all located in western Canada.

The problem is that due to some legal issue of the kid of my wife and her ex-husband she cannot move outside the Toronto city limit.
So I either go to whatever law school I finally accept and spend 3 years without spending much time with my kids (especially my toddler son, he is turning 2 this summer), or I give up law school and stay with them.
Most of my friends who got into law school told me to go to the law school and wait it out until I graduated. I know some people left their children and spouse to study in a different province to get the JD program done.
Now I am wondering if it is really worth it. My son is very energetic, strong-willed and also very difficult. I usually spend tons of time with him every day. I always feel he needs a lot of time, attention and patience from me and my wife. I cannot imagine if I left him and only seeing him on weekends for 3 years.
On the other side, I've put significant time into this law-school stuff. As a non-native English speaker, I spent a lot of time to get a decent score on LSAT and spent a lot of time on my applications as well. There was some time I felt that I would never say no to a Canadian law school as long as I got admission. However when the offers actually came in, I feel uncertain. I heard 2-5 is a crucial stage for kids, I don't want to miss this crucial development stage of my son.
Any thoughts?
Thanks
27 replies
Deal Addict
Jan 2, 2015
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@Andrewhl This is such a difficult decision that no one here can tell what to do, but there are lots of considerations.

It is so much harder to be going to school once you have kids. There is no good time to do it. The best time was before kids, then next best time is yesterday. It's one of those things that it will become more difficult the longer you wait, unless you wait till the kids are much older (close to moving out), then you will not want to do it most likely, as you will be looking at how you pay for your kids education at that time. I know, because both my spouse and I have been in the same situation. For me, I waited for my graduate degree, and once the kids came never had time, and as they get older, I think about their education and the post graduate degree would be best suited for them. My spouse was going to get his Ph.d I told him get it before the kids come, he didn't then considered it, but with how busy our lives are, it becomes harder and harder, and you find that your energy goes from your own studies to your kids activities

Going back in time, I would have given myself the advice of 'just rip off the band aid' and get it over with before kids. Since that is not an option, I would suggest you may just want to consider the following:
  • Is your partner totally on board, and will be able to handle you being away so much? If not, then don't do it.
    How are both you AND your partner handling stressful situations without each other? If not very good, then it may not be a good idea.
    Is your partner able to fly out with the kids to visit you on long weekends and breaks (You said she can't move out of province, how about longer stays?) This may help the time, my spouse and I lived in different countries for a periods of time due to work. We are both pretty independant, so it wasn't a problem.
    Are any of the kids have special needs? If so, this will add so much more stress.
    Are you planning more kids? If so, this needs to be carefully considered, if you are gone for 3 years
    What will be the impact of your families lifestyle (while you are in school) AND in the future? Will there be a significant gain in terms of $, job satisfaction, ect? You need to compare your career prospects now without the law degree vs as a lawyer in the future.
It's a tough one, all ages are crucial, ages 2-5 are the formative years, however, if you partner is able to handle this, then your kid will miss you, but will be fine. I have parented as a single parent for lengths of time, and it's been hard, I consider myself pretty resilient. If it were me, and knowing how my kids are, I should have gone back way before. However, my career hasn't been stagnant, and the extra education in my case would not have been as helpful.
On a 'smart' device that isn't always so smart. So please forgive the autocorrects and typos. If it brothers you, then don't read my posts, but don't waste my time correcting me. If you can get past the typos, then my posts generally have some value.
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Mar 9, 2012
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Andrewhl wrote:
May 11th, 2019 2:50 pm
The problem is that due to some legal issue of the kid of my wife and her ex-husband she cannot move outside the Toronto city limit.
This isn't always true -- and you do well to use some of your connections, which I imagine you have some, to get clarification on this. While personally I'd be against my ex-wife moving far away with my children, sometimes you can move the family if the reasons are valid enough. The court decides this, if the other parent disagrees.

That said, an alternative would be to write to a local school and explain the situation. I have no idea how some schools works, but I do believe some can be flexible if there are mitigation circumstances. It may or may not work. But try to use connections that you have. It's really worth the shot. I assume you're hoping for Osgoode?

The last choice you have is to move outside of DT Toronto, but not far enough to trigger the ex-husband in real legal action. I believe in terms of family law, you can move 80 km away without permission. So that could be 80 km from where you currently reside, or 80 km from the wife's ex-husband, whichever works best for you.

While the last option would be the toughest, keep in mind that you'll spend minimal time with your kid while in school. Hell, you'll spend minimal time due to work, really, any work ever outside of law. Have the mentality that you can probably leave school earlier Friday afternoon, and be with your child later that Friday afternoon, and all day Saturday, all day Sunday, and part of Monday. It will be harder on YOU, but easier on the wife and child.


However! This is important: Keep in mind, by leaving DT Toronto to move closer to Windsor, you might be able to go far enough west (like Cambridge) and still be within that 80 KM, but you're shaving 2.5 off of your trip -- as traffic between Kitchener and Windsor isn't like between Kitchener and Toronto. In fact, I had a friend that worked for 5 years in Windsor working on a hospital project and he commuted from Cambridge everyday. He made the trip in just over 2 hours, but he was going fast. Driving at 120 it's about 2 hours and 20 minutes. You could probably get away with moving further west into Kitchener/Cambridge area by Conestoga College (Homer Watson/Fountain), which generally has zero traffic issues by that part of the 401 (most 401 traffic gets off at the major interchange into Kitchener-Waterloo). Leave for school at 6, be in class by 8:30, get out of class by 2:30, be home by 5:00. Yet close enough to the wife's ex that he can't create too many issues.

Just my thoughts.
How can we fly like eagles, when we're governed by Turkeys?
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Mar 29, 2008
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My thoughts:

-congratulations on your offers
-law school isn’t the end all be all, but it sounds like it’s important enough to you that I would go - having said that, good for you for putting so much thought into what’s best for your child
-your wife will really need to be on board
-you should look into the moving aspect - maybe the ex will agree to temporarily moving if you guys make some concessions as well or maybe you go back to court
-remember, law school is tough to get into but not all that bad once you’re in - most of the stress is self-imposed, and while you will need to provide transcripts when applying for articles, as long as you’ve ridden the curve, who you know will be far more important than your marks
-it’s really difficult, but you can try to transfer after first or second year to a local school

Tough decision; good luck.
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Nov 10, 2018
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lilmikey wrote:
May 12th, 2019 11:45 am
@angryaudifanatic do not know if you could help on this topic, but thought i'd mention you.
Thanks for the mention as usual!
Andrewhl wrote:
May 11th, 2019 2:50 pm

The problem is that due to some legal issue of the kid of my wife and her ex-husband she cannot move outside the Toronto city limit.
Before I comment here, I don't really want to accept this argument prima facie. She cannot or really does not want to? If the former, this is incredibly rare and given your situation, you may want to fight this in court. The extenuating circumstances surrounding your position now should be examined by a judge if she really cannot leave the city limit.
For legal topics and discussions, the opinion, guidance, and thoughts provided are my own and are not considered to be legal advice, in any manner.
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Mar 9, 2012
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angryaudifanatic wrote:
May 12th, 2019 12:11 pm
Thanks for the mention as usual!



Before I comment here, I don't really want to accept this argument prima facie. She cannot or really does not want to? If the former, this is incredibly rare and given your situation, you may want to fight this in court. The extenuating circumstances surrounding your position now should be examined by a judge if she really cannot leave the city limit.
I said the same. Hopefully with two of us with the same suggestion, he'll get some clarity. Though as I mentioned before, I don't like seeing parents do that, but not illegal.
How can we fly like eagles, when we're governed by Turkeys?
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Aug 22, 2011
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I also share the same sentiment to figure out what the actual constraint is with your wife's ability to move.
Member
Sep 8, 2007
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Andrewhl wrote:
May 11th, 2019 2:50 pm
Hi
I am about to make a decision soon. I applied to several Canadian law schools (Juris doctor) last year and so far, I've got some offers but none of them is in GTA areas. Although there still some Ontario school hasn't given out rejection to me yet, I feel that my chance of staying in the GTA area is getting smaller every day. The only Ontario one I have now is UWindsor and it's 1+-hour flight or 5 hours drive to Toronto downtown. I also have got offers from other law schools such as U Alberta but they all located in western Canada.

The problem is that due to some legal issue of the kid of my wife and her ex-husband she cannot move outside the Toronto city limit.
So I either go to whatever law school I finally accept and spend 3 years without spending much time with my kids (especially my toddler son, he is turning 2 this summer), or I give up law school and stay with them.
Most of my friends who got into law school told me to go to the law school and wait it out until I graduated. I know some people left their children and spouse to study in a different province to get the JD program done.
Now I am wondering if it is really worth it. My son is very energetic, strong-willed and also very difficult. I usually spend tons of time with him every day. I always feel he needs a lot of time, attention and patience from me and my wife. I cannot imagine if I left him and only seeing him on weekends for 3 years.
On the other side, I've put significant time into this law-school stuff. As a non-native English speaker, I spent a lot of time to get a decent score on LSAT and spent a lot of time on my applications as well. There was some time I felt that I would never say no to a Canadian law school as long as I got admission. However when the offers actually came in, I feel uncertain. I heard 2-5 is a crucial stage for kids, I don't want to miss this crucial development stage of my son.
Any thoughts?
Thanks
Transferring to another school after your first year at law school is another possibility. Several of my classmates did that to go back to ontario after first year in BC. I also know several people who transferred back to BC after first year in Alberta.
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Oct 5, 2008
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If your wife can't actually move (legally) with you then that would seal it for me. I wouldn't go.

I couldn't/wouldn't leave my kid and it's not fair to the wife to be the only parent.
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Dec 31, 2007
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Isn't this a bigger issue than just law school?

You and your family can't move out of Toronto. Ever. I would guess you knew before you got married?

It means no relocation for jobs, schooling, anything for anyone (you, wife, kids).
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Sep 19, 2013
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You need to fill in with your wife's take on this. This is a family matter and a lot depends on her contribution in this phase, and if we could know how she is standing on this, you will get much better advice on this thread.

Like others said, do more research on whether your family can move. But lets assume for arguments sake that they cannot.

In that case, if you think the Ontario school is decent enough. Then move your family within Toronto but towards your school. That way you can cut down the travel time to 4ish hours? You can use the school breaks and weekends, so that it wont be that bad.

If you really feel that AB school is much better than the ON one, then take the bitter pill. 3 years is tough, but in the grand scheme of things, think of the things that you will be able to provide for your family once you have a decent job.

All the best.
In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move. -- Douglas Adams
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Jul 5, 2004
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My first step would be fighting that non-relocation order. If that didn't work, I would either give up law school or postpone it. I would never leave kid.

Law school is demanding. You wouldn't have a ton of free time on weekends to spend with your kid.

To me, it comes down to what's more important, a law degree right now or my child. It's an easy choice
Deal Addict
Mar 21, 2010
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It also depends on how you feel, honestly, deep down, and how you will continue to feel going forwards. Are you honestly going to be okay with it and make the sacrifice (whichever way it goes)? Or are you going to be thinking every day from now on about how you worked so hard to achieve your dream, but had to give it up because of "problems caused by someone else's kid"? Because that's not healthy for anyone.
Jr. Member
Oct 15, 2008
161 posts
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Windsor
The commute to Windsor is doable depending on school schedule. I'm in Windsor and get up to TO and back same day a few times a year. If you had no classes on Fridays (or on holiday weekends), you'd have an easy 3 day weekend. But I'm still hung up on the access to the child. If you were to have the child commute back and forth from Windsor to TO on your dime, isn't that essentially the same thing as if you lived on opposite sides of the GTA? Besides, thinking about it, it may be faster for you to commute from Milton or Kitchener to Windsor still being in the "GTA" rather than trying to get from Whitby to Milton some days, no? Good luck OP!

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