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Separation. Divorce. Child Custody and Access. Child Support. Spousal Support. Division of Property and Assets.

Legal custody is the right of a parent to make major decisions with respect to a child’s education, health, religion, and welfare. A parent with a right of access has the right to make inquiries and to be given information regarding these matters. When making orders for custody and access, it is a judge’s duty to consider the best interests of the child. If you are involved in a custody dispute, always keep in mind the best interests of the child principle and do not engage in any of the behaviours described below. more

Entitlement

Typically, a parent’s obligation to pay child support ends when the child reaches the age of majority and/or is no longer a full-time student. However, section 2(1) of the Divorce Act creates an obligation to continue paying support for a child of marriage who is over the age of majority but unable by reason of illness, disability, or other cause to withdraw from parental charge or to obtain the necessaries of life.

Disability itself does not justify a support order; the child must be unable to withdraw from the parents’ care because of the disability. Therefore, if an adult child cannot live independently because of a disability, then that child may be entitled to receive ongoing support well beyond the age of 18. more

One of the leading causes of divorce is money problems. Figuring out how spouses will divide their debts upon separation is a complicated and all too common issue for many Canadians. Spouses must consider all debts incurred either before marriage, during marriage, and after separation. more

Confidentiality is a major concern for most people who are going through a divorce. In family law, the parties’ desire for privacy must be balanced against the principle of “open court” and the legal requirement of complete (financial) disclosure. The principle of open court reflects the belief that openness and full access to court records is necessary to promote the integrity of our judicial system. more

Termination of parental rights is a legal process whereby a parent loses all of his or her rights and obligations related to child custody, access, and support. An individual who loses or relinquishes his or her parental rights to a child ceases to be that child’s parent entirely in the eyes of the law. The parent is no longer permitted to care for and discipline the child, to live with the child, and the child can be adopted without the parent’s permission. more

In Canada, the calculation of child support is governed by the Federal Child Support Guidelines. The Guidelines provide binding rules on how to calculate support. It also provides tables that indicate what a support payer should be paying each month, based on the support payer’s income and the number of children for whom support is payable. These table amounts are only the starting point of the analysis; a court may order child support payments that are higher or lower than the table amount in certain situations: more

The best time to ask your partner the hard questions is before you get married. Choosing to get married is a major life decision with significant psychological, social, and legal effects. Your choice in spouse deserves at least as much time and research as you would put into any other life-changing decision, such as going back to school, having children, quitting your job or accepting a new offer of employment. Do your homework and find out if your concept of marriage is compatible with your partner’s. Here are some important questions you should ask yourself and your spouse before you get married. more

Typically, a marriage is considered “short-term” if it less than five years in duration. There are three financial aspects of divorce that parties to a short-term marriage should consider:

  • division of family property (equalization),
  • spousal support, and
  • child support.

While there may be some overlap in these schemes, they must be analyzed separately. Parties to a short-term marriage may be responsible for or entitled to some, all, or none of these payments. more

Whaaaat? I Can’t Afford That Equalization Payment!

When a marriage ends, the spouse who has the higher “net family property” must make an equalization payment to the spouse with the lower net family property. The equalization payment usually represents a significant amount of the family’s accumulated wealth, so making the equalization payment can be daunting. Often the paying spouse does not have enough liquid assets to make this payment easily. Below are some options available to a spouse who must satisfy an equalization payment. more

A prenuptial agreement is a contract entered into by a couple who is planning to marry. In Ontario, a prenuptial agreement is called a marriage contract. To be valid and enforceable, the contract must meet certain conditions laid out in Part IV of the Family Law Act. For example, it must be in writing, signed by the parties, and witnessed. A marriage contract typically determines the parties’ rights regarding property and spousal support in the event the marriage ends in divorce. A marriage contract permits a couple to negotiate their own terms regarding property sharing and financial planning so that the marriage and divorce laws in their province do not automatically apply to them. more