With years of experience, and successful results, I am able to represent and advocate for you in all aspects of family law, including :
- Custody and Access
- Child Abduction and Hague Convention matters
- Child Alienation matters
- Separation Agreements/Parenting Plans
- Child Support and child support arrears
- Spousal Support and spousal support arrears
- Property Division/equalization
- Common law matters including property division
- Marriage/Cohabitation Contracts
- Child protection/Children’s Aid Society
- Bundled services such as Litigation Coaching for client who only want assistance for specific issues
Divorce and Separation
There is no such thing as a “legal separation” in Ontario. You are legally separated when you and your spouse are “living separate and apart” for 12 months or more. “Living separate and apart” does not necessarily require physical separation. You and your spouse may be “living separate and apart” but share your home for economic reasons or for reasons related to the children.
ORDER FOR DIVORCE
If you are seeking a divorce based on separation, you can request an Order for a divorce before you have been separated for one year, however the Order cannot be granted until on or after the one year anniversary of ‘living separate and apart’. If you are also seeking Orders for property division, support and/or custody and access, most courts will not grant a divorce without ensuring that these other issues have been resolved. To discuss the issues of separation and divorce in a confidential consultation, please contact me directly.
A simple or uncontested divorce is strictly administrative in nature and may be sought and obtained without a court appearance. It can usually be completed with 4 or 5 months. I charge a flat rate for this service. Please contact me via email or telephone to discuss this rate.
When parties are unable to resolve issues of custody and access between themselves, they may require the assistance of a lawyer. Custody and access disputes are often the most emotional and complex matters in the family law courts. As a result of my years of experience as a family law lawyer and the skills I developed as a social worker, I possess a keen understanding of a child’s best interest and how this shall be the guiding principle in all high conflict custody and access disputes. With some assistance, many separating parents are able to agree on a parenting plan after some negotiation. If they agree, they may not have to go to court. If a court appearance is required, I recommend retaining a knowledgeable lawyer to guide them through this complicated area of the law.
SOLE VS. JOINT CUSTODY
Custody is the right to make important decisions about how to care for and raise a child. These decisions include decisions about the child’s religion, medical care, school and extracurricular activities. Parents who have joint custody demonstrate a high level of cooperation so that they are able to make these decisions together. Failure to reach a custody agreement can impede the settlement of a case on a prolonged basis.
Access is the schedule by which the child will spend time with each parent. It is not uncommon that one parent may have sole custody (or sole decision making) of a child but the parents may each have the child in their care for equal time. Parents may resolve issues regarding custody and access by way of a Parenting Plan independent of all other issues that may arise between them.
I have provided a link for the Ontario Child Support Guidelines Calculator.
This child support table look-up will help you find the base amount of child support for your province, the number of children you have and your gross income. The base amount is often not the final child support amount to be paid. For example, if there are special expenses such as child care or if you share custody, the amount will likely be different. To discuss the various unique characteristics of your case, please contact me for an initial consultation.
I have provided a link to the Ontario Spousal Support calculator for your ease of reference.
The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines, which were published by the federal government in 2008. As the name suggests, they are not mandatory in nature, but rather are a tool by which individuals, their lawyers, and the courts might be able to reach a fair and comparatively uniform spousal support determination in any individual case. This is in stark contrast to the Child Support Guidelines.
HOW IS SPOUSAL SUPPORT CALCULATED?
The spousal support amounts are calculated using a comprehensive-but-flexible “formula”, with consideration given to various factors and policy-based objectives that have been agreed by lawmakers to affect support entitlement. For example, the Guidelines set out different support calculations to be applied to couples with children, as opposed to those without. It also takes into account the length of the marriage and the parties’ relative incomes.
Another factor is any long-term financial disadvantage that one spouse may have endured as a result of the decisions made during the marriage (for example, the decision that one spouse will leave a career in order to care for the children). For further information, and to discuss the factors unique to your case, please contact me directly. I will be happy to work through various calculations with you and answer your questions during our initial consultation.
When a marriage ends, the equal contribution of each person to the marriage is recognized. The law provides that the value of any kind of property that was acquired by a spouse during the marriage and still exists at separation must be divided equally between the spouses. Also, any increase in the value of property owned by a spouse at the date of marriage must be shared. The payment that may be owed to one of the spouses in order to effect this sharing is called an equalization payment, or an equalization of net family property.
EXCLUDED PROPERTY AND COMMON LAW SPOUSES
There are some possible exceptions to these rules, which are called excluded property, and may include gifts or inheritances received during the marriage from someone other than a spouse, provided that the gifts or inheritances were not used towards a matrimonial home.
These automatic property sharing provisions only apply to married spouses. If you are in a common law relationship, you are not entitled to an equalization payment, but may be entitled to a payment from your spouse to pay you back for a direct or indirect contribution to property that he or she owns. These claims are referred to as trust claims.
While the concept of equalization may seem logical and easy to understand, the property division regime in Ontario is complicated, this is particularly so when one or both spouses have investments such as pensions or interests in a company. Often, clients may also need to retain other professionals to determine the value of their spouse’s net worth. To ensure that you protect your rights and the rights of your children, I invite you to call me to discuss this issue in greater detail
Motions to Change
A motion to change is the court process used when a person wants to ask a judge to change or end a final family court order, or change or end an agreement to pay support. Generally, the payor party is paying support through the Family Responsibility Office (“FRO”) who may be enforcing the nonpayment of support. You can find more information regarding FRO on their website.
WHY WOULD I BRING A MOTION TO CHANGE?
- The support payor is making more money than he or she was when the order or agreement was made.
- The support payor is making less money than he or she was when the order or agreement was made.
- The child has finished school, married or moved out on their own.
- The child or children are now living with the payor or a different person.
- The person receiving spousal support is now able to support himself or herself.
A motion to change can also be used to ask a court to change a final order concerning custody, access, or a restraining/non-harassment order. To determine whether or not a motion to change is appropriate in your case, to respond to a motion to change initiated against you or to learn more about the motion to change process, please contact me directly for further information.
Separation agreements in Ontario can resolve some family matters when you separate but they do not legally end your marriage. The only way to legally end your marriage is to get a divorce. Separation Agreements can deal with the issues of custody, access child support, spousal support, property division and dispute resolution. To be most effective, these agreements must be signed after each party makes full and frank financial disclosure to the other (when applicable) and the each party has had independent legal advice.
Crafting an effective, fair and binding Separation Agreement is very complicated area of family law in Ontario. The terms of this agreement can have ever lasting effects on your own future and the future of your children. I highly recommend obtaining legal advice prior to drafting or entering into such Agreements. I am happy to discuss this further with you during our initial free consultation.
These are also commonly known as “Prenuptual” Agreements. With couples now waiting longer to get married and having acquired more assets prior to marriage and with an increase of individuals entering into second and third relationships, Cohabitation Agreements are an essential part of the family law regime. If a couple decides to draft a Cohabitation Agreement, I will make sure that my client is in or about to be in a common law relationship understands what their legal rights and obligations are and I will help them protect their assets, income, and children.
This is often an uncomfortable area of law and many of my clients are unsure as to how to discuss this issue with their partners. Not only can I assist you in drafting the agreement, I will provide you with strategies you will need to make this a more comfortable and loving experience for you and your partner.
If you are a parent who is involved with the Children’s Aid Society (Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, Catholic Children’s Aid Society and Jewish Child and Family Services) on a voluntary or involuntary basis, or if a Children’s Aid Society has taken your child or initiated a court action against you or a family member, I strongly suggest you seek out the assistance and guidance of a child protection lawyer such as myself. During the initial consultation, I will offer you invaluable information regarding the child protection legal process.
Because you may be at risk of losing your child on a permanent basis, you should seek out legal advice as soon as possible. I accept legal aid certificates for all child protection clients and of course all consultations are free.
Foreign Divorce Letters
A foreign divorce opinion letter is required where an individual who is intending to get married in Ontario was previously divorced in a foreign jurisdiction. This is a letter that a lawyer will draft and sign stating the lawyer’s opinion that the foreign divorce would be recognized in Canada. The foreign divorce opinion letter will make reference to the applicable law in Ontario and the relevant facts that support the opinion of the lawyer.
You will be required to bring the following documents for your appointment:
- The original or court certified copy of the divorce decree.
- An Application for Marriage (completed by both parties intending to marry)
- A Statement of Sole Responsibility (signed by both of the parties intending to marry)
- A written statement from the divorced individual confirming that either they or their former spouse were living in the jurisdiction that granted the divorce for at least 1 year immediately before the application for divorce was submitted.
- Applications and Answers
- Financial Statements
- Court Appearances
- Refraining Motions
- Settlement Negociations
I also offer unbundled services and limited-scope representation, which can be a cost-effective alternative to traditional representation. Unbundled legal services allow you to manage specific legal processes, including document preparation or an appearance in court, without the typical price tag.
For example, if you would like to handle your own divorce in court, I can help you prepare and file the right documents. On the flip side, some clients opt to prepare their own court documents. In that case, I can offer courtroom representation to ensure the process goes smoothly.