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Getting a separation is a complicated process. This is especially true when you have a family. Both ex-spouses have to decide on who will have legal guardianship of the children.
They also must discuss the amount of child support to provide and other factors. Are you having marriage problems? Does neither person know what to do next? You need an experienced family lawyer in Ottawa.
The lawyers can assist with:
- getting a court order
- creating a separation agreement or reviewing it
- spousal support
- custody and access
- marriage contracts
- legal advice about the Divorce Act
- explaining the legal process
We can connect you with affordable family lawyers in Ottawa. The top lawyers help you with the next steps to ensure your rights are protected. Further, they make sure that your children are taken care of during the process.
The lawyers also help with marriage mediation in Ottawa. This means you don’t have to take your case to trial.
This can help cut down on your costs. Also, it helps move things forward between you and your ex-spouse. In addition, our lawyer’s legal services also cover legal guardianship matters, adoptions, and pre-marriage agreements.
Separation And Legal Services
Sometimes both spouses decide that it is time to end the relationship. They will have to sit down and figure out how to proceed with dividing up assets.
Also, they will need to talk about legal guardianship of children and spousal support payments. The lawyers are well versed in separation and mediation law. So the lawyers can help you get through this important negotiation process.
The top lawyer’s separation mediation services will be based on whether you are getting uncontested separation. If you are doing a contested separation or legal separation it might be a different conversation.
The lawyers help draft legally binding documents and work with the other party. This is with the goal of coming to an agreement. This might be an agreement regarding child guardianship and payments.
Can neither party agree to certain aspects of the separation, such as asset division? Then the experienced lawyers can provide legal representation. They can help represent you when the time comes to take your case to court to get a court order.
Getting Legal Guardianship In Ottawa
Becoming a legal guardian in Ontario grants you certain rights. These include being able to make decisions for others who are under your guardianship. You may become a guardian of a minor child who may not be related to you.
You may also be the legal guardian of an incapacitated senior citizen. They might no longer be able to make decisions on their own behalf. This might be due to factors such as a debilitating injury or disease. Further, it might be for adults who are incapacitated or developmentally disabled.
In these situations, you can make important decisions such as filing tax forms. You can also arrange for in-home care or deciding on what school the child will attend. You need to better understand your new role as a guardian.
As well, you need to know which decisions you are allowed to make. Further, you must know what decisions will need judicial approval. Therefore, you should reach out to a lawyer in Ottawa. The lawyers can inform you about the rights you have during these circumstances.
Lawyer In Ottawa
One of the top concerns for separating and divorcing parents focuses on who will have custody of the children. Is it going to be one parent that has sole custody and takes care of the children all the time?
Are they going to split custody? Will one parent has custody of some of the children? Further, will the other parent will have custody of the remaining kids? Or will there be a joint custody agreement?
You need to figure out what type of custody arrangement would be best. This is for all the children and both spouses. Therefore, get in touch with a lawyer who is well versed in child custody matters for Ottawa, Ontario.
The lawyer in Ottawa can explain your rights under each type of agreement. Further, they can explain what would be best for your particular circumstances. In addition, as a child protection lawyer in Ottawa, they can help protect the best interests of young and older children.
If you plan to represent yourself during a child custody hearing, you might be in for a difficult time. However, our professional lawyers can also provide legal coaching. So you will know what to do when going against the other family lawyer in a court setting.
Family Lawyer Ottawa Services
- Child Custody
- Child Support
- Family Agreements
- Mediation & Arbitration
- Property & Debt Division
- Separation & Divorce
- Spousal Support
- Family Law Act
Custody And Access Ottawa
Are you in a dispute with an ex-spouse regarding spousal support payments? Maybe it’s regarding child custody or how to separate your assets? Seek out the family law lawyers in Ottawa who can handle your case.
A lawyer in Ottawa can offer years of legal representation to couples who are making big family decisions that will impact the rest of their lives.
We also help couples before they get married. The family lawyers in Ottawa will draft marriage agreements such as prenuptial agreements. These services are ideal when you are bringing certain assets into the marriage.
You might want to keep these assets separate. It can also help if it’s your second marriage. You might want certain assets to go to the previous spouse and their children.
Understanding The Legal Process When Couples Split Up
Understanding the legal process when couples split up can be difficult. The legal process of ending a relationship can be confusing. Chances are that your time together as a couple means there is are property rights and child custody issues that must be resolved before you can move on with your life.
For example, the law recognizes marriage as an equal partnership when it comes to rights to real and personal property. When a marriage ends, the parties are entitled to an equal share of that property.
The law does not extend this rule to common-law relationships where each party is only entitled to retain property acquired in their own name during or before the relationship began.
The following step-by-step account of what to expect in the legal process of breaking up should help eliminate any confusion you might have about it.
When Couples Split Up- The difference between divorce and separation
When two people in a relationship decide to live separate and apart, it is referred to as a separation regardless of whether the couple is married or living in a common-law relationship.
Married couples that elect to separate must begin divorce proceedings to actually end the marriage. Even though you and your spouse agree to live apart, your legal status as married continues until it is ended by a court.
There is no formal process for separation. Once a couple splits up and the parties begin living apart they are separated. They should, however, speak with a lawyer about a separation agreement, which is a legally enforceable contract containing agreements they reach on important issues, including:
- Child custody and access to the children
- Child support
- Spousal support
- Division of property, including pensions
- Responsibility for debts
Living apart for at least one year can be used as grounds for obtaining a divorce to end the marriage. Other grounds for divorce are mental or physical cruelty by one spouse against the other and adultery.
Ending a marriage
The power of courts to end a marriage is granted by the Divorce Act, which is a federal law. A divorce proceeding is heard by courts in the province where either of the parties has resided for at least one year prior to seeking a divorce.
If you reside in Ontario, an application for a divorce must be filled out by you or by your lawyer. Before filing the application, you must decide if you are only requesting that the court grant a divorce or are you also asking for it to resolve other disputed issues, such as child custody, property division and support.
Courts have the authority to resolve issues related to the divorce, but doing so could require additional paperwork, such as a financial statement, and generally takes longer. It is much easier if an out-of-court agreement can be negotiated on your behalf by your lawyer and the lawyer for your spouse.
Speak to a family lawyer in Ottawa
The completed application for a divorce must be filed with the court and a copy of it must be given to your spouse. Your spouse has a period of time to respond to your application through an answer.
If you and your spouse are in agreement on the issues related to divorce and on the divorce itself, you could file a joint application. Joint applications save time, but one of the conditions of being able to use this streamlined process is that custody, support, property division and other issues must be resolved ahead of filing.
When Couples Split Up- A lawyer experienced in family law can help
If you considering splitting up with your spouse or partner, a lawyer knowledgeable in family law has the guidance and advice about your legal rights and obligations to help you avoid mistakes. A family lawyer in Ottawa’s assistance in reaching an agreement on financial and child custody issues can ensure your rights are protected.
Thinking About Splitting Up?
Are you thinking about splitting up? Based upon data collected through surveys of people splitting up, you probably know of someone who has gone through a divorce, separation or the end of a common-law relationship.
In fact, it is estimated that five million of your fellow Canadians responding to the most recent census has experienced a split with their spouses through divorce or separation.
If you are thinking about splitting with your spouse or partner, you might not be able to avoid the emotional roller coaster that accompanies a breakup, but you can take steps to plan ahead to protect yourself from suffering financial harm or damaging the relationship you have with your children.
Thinking About Splitting Up? Make sure your relationship is over
Knowing the relationship is in fact over is one of the first steps you need to take when splitting up with your spouse. Counselling, either alone or with your spouse, can guide you through the emotional turmoil and help you determine if the relationship is really broken or if it can be saved.
Gather and protect important records and documents
The value of property owned when a couple splits up is divided equally between them when the marriage ends in divorce or separation.
The increase in the value of any property owned individually by either you or your spouse is also taken into consideration for purposes of determining the total value of the contribution of each party to a marriage.
If some of the assets were owned by you prior to the marriage, it is essential that you retain and protect any records about those transactions to prove your ownership of them and their value at the time of the marriage.
Financial records and important documents have a way of disappearing even in an otherwise friendly breakup.
Unless remaining is unsafe, do not move out of your home
You and your spouse share equal rights in the marital home. Moving out could jeopardize your right to custody of your children if they have remained in the home with your spouse.
If safety is an issue, your lawyer can request a restraining order to protect you against abusive behaviour from your spouse.
Thinking About Splitting Up? Speak with an experienced lawyer
Knowing your legal rights and responsibilities is essential. Your relationship with your spouse might be coming to an end, but the decisions you make now could affect you in the future.
The laws pertaining to divorce, separation and ending a common-law relationship can be complex and intimidating.
A consultation with a lawyer experienced in representing individuals in family law matters can help you develop a plan to ensure a favourable outcome that protects your future wellbeing and fosters your relationship with your children.
Get legal advice from a family lawyer in Ottawa
A consultation with a lawyer provides advice and guidance for planning an exit from your relationship consistent with the laws in Ontario. For example, judges take into consideration the best interests of your children when deciding custody and access to your children.
Your relationship with the children leading up to the breakup is one of several factors courts look at, so it is essential to remain a part of their lives. If the children reside with you, taking steps to encourage the children to maintain their relationship with your spouse is looked upon as being in their best interest.
Proposed changes to the Divorce Act could affect your rights with regard to child custody, financial disclosure and other important issues in a divorce or separation. A consultation with a lawyer would help you understand the effect of the law and how to plan accordingly.
Dividing Wedding Gifts During Divorce
You are now getting a divorce. You have a lot on your mind and a long list of things to take care of. One of the items on your list is the wedding gifts.
Dividing wedding gifts during divorce can be complex. What do people do with their wedding gifts? Do you keep them? Do you divide them between you and your spouse? What should you do? There are some factors that you may want to take into consideration.
One factor will be the length of the marriage. How long have you been with your spouse? If you were recently married and you are getting a divorce after several weeks or less, it may still be possible to return or exchange the wedding gifts.
Return gifts, you ask? Yes! Why not? Why would you plan to keep any of the wedding gifts to begin with? The gifts are a symbol of your union and marriage.
Family lawyer in Ottawa
Would you want to hold on to the gifts that celebrate your union to your spouse that you are trying to separate from? What benefit will there be to keep mementos of your marriage that did not end in a happily ever after?
If you need to do equitable distribution, we can help calculate what’s fair using our advanced software. Assets that are acquired during the marriage are often divided 50/50, but there are exceptions. Property division is stressful, so make sure you get legal advice.
An issue that you may run into with the wedding gifts is a paid trip. Who gets to go? Or should you even go?
If the wedding gift is a plane ticket, you may have considered keeping both airline tickets and thought to take someone else instead. However, most airlines no longer accept name changes on an international ticket.
How To Divide Your Property During Separation
This means you cannot switch the name on a ticket to another person. If that is the case, then you should each take your ticket, split up the reservation, and change the date respectively, so that you can each choose a time that is better for you to travel (fees and penalties will apply, of course).
If the gift is a hotel and/or some activity, then you may want to consider offering the trip to another couple (i.e., a friend or family member) who you think deserves it and will enjoy it more.
Sure you can go on the trip, but will you have fun right now? Probably not. You could also trash the reservation altogether, but why waste a perfectly good gift.
Sometimes when you are going through a difficult time, it feels good to make others happy. When you see how happy you made someone else, you become happy. Happiness is infectious, and when you are happy, you attract more happiness.
Gifts In A Divorce Settlement
Another issue that may arise with dividing wedding gifts during divorce is monetary gifts and property. Money and property can be a difficult and complex matter.
If the money has not been used, one could argue about who deserves more or all of it. However, with that being said, it is better to have some pride and dignity in the matter. Make it simple, clean, and even split.
This is a good way to avoid any unnecessary disputes in an already difficult situation. If neither of you wants the money, then donating the money to a good cause can be an alternative solution.
In your difficult situation, why not bring joy into someone’s life who needs it. For more complicated money issues and all matters regard property, please consult your lawyer for your legal rights.
What if the separation is mutual, and neither of you has ill will toward each other. What do you do then? Ideally, you want to move toward the future, not look back on the past.
Don’t keep anything you don’t need or symbolizes your marriage. If the gift has been used and is still in good condition, donate it.
How To Divide Up Assets In A Divorce
What about the gifts that don’t have any symbolic meaning or don’t remind you of your marriage? You may want to keep these gifts. If the gifts don’t have any words such as, “Just married” or “husband & wife”, then why waste a perfect cushion set or mugs.
You will be moving into your own apartment or house and any unnecessary expense can go a long way. You can always replace those items in the near future once you have settled down into your new life.
A family lawyer in Ottawa can assist you in dividing assets by getting a separation agreement signed. It’s frustrating to divide marital property, but when it has to happen, you need to make sure it’s done correctly.
What Is Considered A Gift In A Divorce?
Now if you have been married for a few years, it may be difficult to let go of your wedding gifts. The gifts have been and are apart of your daily life. These gifts may not hold any specific reminders of your marriage to your spouse.
At this point, I would say, if the gift has a purposeful value, keep them. There is no sense in getting rid of an item that is useful. It would be silly to give the item away or throw it out, only to purchase the same item.
But if the item reminds you of your spouse and your time together in any way, then get rid of it!
The last difficult decision will be for couples married for 5+ years. You may have gifts that now carry sentimental value. You want to keep the item, but so does your spouse. If the two of you can come to a mutual agreement, then things will be easy.
If you both cannot agree, then definitely have your lawyer help you. Just remember why you want to item. If you want an item just to get back at your spouse or to be spiteful in any way, just let it go.
The fastest way to move forward with your life is to let go of your past and any ill will regarding the separation.
Wedding Gifts During Divorce
Traditionally, wedding gifts are items given to a couple to celebrate and commemorate their union with one another. Keeping the gifts, splitting the gifts, donating or throwing out the gifts are some of the options you are considering once a separation is decided.
At the end of the day, think about what the gift means to you.
Will you have any use for the gift? Why do you want a gift? Can someone else benefit from the gift? Ultimately, what you decide to do is between you and your spouse.
As difficult as it may be, try to be objective and civil about the matter. It will go a long way for you in starting your new life.
Dealing With Child Custody
In Ontario, a recent case dealt with the issue of whether a parent can be found in contempt of an access order. This happened because one parent was refused parenting time on the basis that the child doesn’t want to go. So can you force a child to go with the parent?
In a court case, the parents had two daughters. A temporary order had been made mandating that the older daughter was to reside primarily with the father and the younger daughter was to remain with the mother.
When a family lawyer in Ottawa has to get involved, it means things have gone bad.
Forcing A Child To Move
If your spouse is trying to force a child to go with a parent make sure to speak to one of our family law lawyers in the Toronto office of ClearWay Law. Book an initial no-obligation consultation at a discounted rate of only $100 for an hour of the family lawyers’ time.
As of March 2020, we are no longer a law firm. We now connect people with lawyers for a free consultation. Parts of this article were written while we were a law firm.
The father was to have access time with the younger daughter every second weekend. The mother had a history of bringing unsuccessful motions to limit or terminate the father’s access to the youngest daughter and the father had brought a previous contempt application dealing with the issue of access.
At this step in the proceedings, the father was bringing another contempt application for the mother’s failure to deal with an order of specified access.
The original order had stated that the younger daughter was to be dropped off with the paternal grandparents on a specific date and the mother had failed to do so. The father had also been without access for over 6 months. He then spoke to a family lawyer.
Force a child to go with the parent?
At the contempt motion, the mother attempted to justify the lack of access citing the younger child’s refusal to attend access with the father. She argued that she had done her best to facilitate access but that the younger child persistently refused to see the father.
The motion judge had found that the mother was leaving it up to the daughter to decide whether or not she would attend visits with the father and that sometimes a refusal to visit with the father resulted in a positive consequence.
The motion judge characterized her actions as effectively abdicating “her parental authority on the issue of access.” The judge identified that there were alternate avenues for the mother to use to enforce the daughter to comply with the support order. In the end, the motion judge found the mother in contempt of the order. The mother appealed the decision to the Ontario Court of Appeal.
The Court of Appeal
The Court of Appeal upheld that the mother was in contempt of the order, finding that alternate remedies to a contempt motion wouldn’t work in the situation and there was proof of “deliberate and willful disobedience” of the mother against the access order beyond a reasonable doubt.
In relation to the mother’s assertions that the child did not want to have access time with the father, the Court of Appeal wrote:
“Although a child’s wishes, particularly the wishes of a child [the daughter’s] age, should certainly be considered by a court prior to making an access order, once the court has determined that access is in the child’s best interests a parent cannot leave the decision to comply with the access order up to the child.
As stated by the motion judge, Ontario courts have held consistently that a parent “has some positive obligation to ensure a child who allegedly resists contact with the access parent complies with the access order…No doubt, it may be difficult to comply with an access order, especially as children get older. Parents are not required to do the impossible in order to avoid a contempt finding. They are, however, required to do all that they reasonably can.”
The court decision on if someone can force a child to go with a parent
The decision makes it clear that the parent was trying to force a child to go with the parent. The child’s opinion on access time is important as they get older.
The opinion of the child will only be used at the time the order is made as part of determining what is in the best interests of the child. It may also be used in determining what type of access should occur.
It cannot be relied upon by a parent to deny access after the order has been made. If a parent uses the excuse that the child does not want to go to the other parent’s house for access time, they may be found in contempt of any prior access orders.
The important lesson to take away from this case is that it is expected that parents will not influence the child’s decision through conversations with the child or rewards for refusing to go to access time and that the access order is expected to be promoted by the parent. The decision of whether to attend access or not is not to be left up to the child.
This is why it’s so important to get legal advice from a family lawyer in Ottawa.
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In the event that the child states that they do not want to go, they are to use the same parenting techniques they would use if a child does not want to go to any other obligation.
As the motion judge stated in this case: “what does [a parent] do when this child doesn’t want to go to school or doesn’t want to go to the dentist? …Does this child have an allowance?
Does she have a hockey tournament that maybe she’s not allowed to go to if she doesn’t go to see her [other parent] before? Are there things [the parent] could do to force her to go short of the police attending at her house and physically removing her?” This case makes it clear that mere encouragement is not sufficient. A parent must use “stronger forms of persuasion.”
You should speak to a family lawyer in Ottawa today.
Author: Alistair Vigier is the CEO of ClearWay Law