Separation & Divorce
Canada has a “no fault” divorce system, which means that there is no requirement to prove wrongdoing in order to finalize a divorce. This encourages spouses to focus on the practical issues involving separation and divorce, such as custody and access, child support, spousal support and the division of matrimonial property.
If the spouses are able to negotiate a settlement of all of their issues, they can sign a Separation Agreement, with Independent Legal Advice. If a Separation Agreement is signed by both spouses, the final Divorce Judgment and other Orders will safeguard the terms of the Agreement.
We offer services to resolve both contested and uncontested divorces, regardless of the complexity of your case.
Custody & Access
After separation, you and your spouse need to plan how you will spend time with the children, and how decisions will be made for the children. Any agreement or order regarding parenting time should be based on the needs of the children.
When deciding any disputes over parenting time, the Courts focus on the best interests of the children – the wishes of the parents are of lesser importance. The Courts usually prefer children spending significant parenting time with each parent, unless there is a specific reason why spending significant time with one parent would not be in the children’s best interests.
We will work with you to develop a parenting plan that protects your children, ensures a stable environment, and meets your specific situation.
After separation, your children have a legal right to financial support from both parents. This includes support for their basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter, but also extraordinary expenses, such as childcare expenses or uninsured medical or dental expenses.
There are Federal and Provincial Child Support Guidelines, but child support is not always simple. There can be issues involving income determination or disputes as to what qualifies as an extraordinary expense.
You may have questions whether you are paying or receiving the correct amount of child support. We are able to provide a quick analysis and answer any of your questions.
You may or may not have a claim to spousal support if your marriage or common law relationship has ended. There is no set formula to determine the amount or duration of spousal support. Every claim for spousal support has its own unique circumstances.
The formulas for assessing spousal support are complex and take into account whether there are dependent children. If there is a claim for both child and spousal support, the claim for child support will be given priority.
We can assist you in understanding your rights and obligations regarding spousal support, including entitlement, the objectives of spousal support, and the factors a Court may consider in making an Order for spousal support.
Assets and debts acquired during the marriage are considered matrimonial property. Matrimonial property may be divided equally or unequally. Assets acquired prior to the marriage may be exempt from matrimonial property division.
A careful examination of all of your assets and debts is essential to ensure that you receive your appropriate share of matrimonial property. This can be accomplished by the exchange of financial information between the spouses and by independent valuations, where needed.
We can assist you with an analysis of all of your property issues, as well as discussing the logistics of selling property, considering tax implications, dealing with appraisals or valuations and reaching a fair settlement. Contact us to discuss your rights to matrimonial property and the steps you need to take to protect your interests.
Common Law Relationships
A common law relationship refers to an unmarried couple living together, whether or not there are children involved. Common law relationships are also referred to as an Adult Interdependent Relationships.
The end of a common law relationship can require a settlement of the same issues as the end of a marriage, such as parenting, child support, spousal support and division of property. While the end of a common law relationship does not result in a divorce, the process of ending a common law relationship is similar.
It is important to have an appropriate Order or Agreement which protects your rights. If there are children, there may be issues of guardianship, parenting time and support. You or your partner may have a claim for spousal support. There may be a claim to divide property that was acquired during the common law relationship. We can assist you in understanding your rights and obligations.
At the end of a marriage or common law relationship, the spouses may enter into an agreement to reach a settlement of all of their issues, including parenting, child support, spousal support and property division. These agreements are sometimes referred to as Separation Agreements, or called Divorce, Property and Support Agreements.
In order to finalize an agreement, the spouses must exchange their financial information and receive independent legal advice to ensure they understand their rights and obligations with respect to the agreement. If the spouses are unable to reach a complete agreement on all of the issues, they can choose to enter an agreement that is limited to one issue, such as a Parenting Agreement, Spousal Support Agreement or Property Agreement.
We can discuss the various options with you and advise you on how to negotiate an agreement which best suits your needs.
A prenuptial agreement is a contract entered into prior to marriage. The terms of a prenuptial agreement can vary according to the wishes of the spouses, but usually contains terms specifying the division of property, and in some cases the payment of spousal support, in the event of a marriage breakdown.
If you divorce without having a prenuptial agreement in place, your property will be divided according the law. If you have significant pre-marriage assets, have children from a prior relationship, or wish to maintain your pre-marriage assets, you should consider a prenuptial agreement. While this can be a sensitive subject for some people, having a prenuptial agreement can reduce uncertainty and conflict, while protecting your interests.
Please contact our office if you have questions regarding a prenuptial agreement.
A cohabitation agreement is a written agreement between two people who have chosen to live together in a relationship without being married. A cohabitation agreement sets out current and future property and financial issues prior to the relationship and establishes how all current and future property will be settled in the event of a relationship breakdown. Cohabitation agreements usually deal with the issues of spousal support, inheritances and the recognition of adult or dependent children.
Please contact our office if you have any questions regarding cohabitation agreements.