"Listening and truly understanding the needs of my clients during this
difficult time is my number one priority."

>> Greg Cooper, Family Law Mediator and Arbitrator.

Toronto Ontario Family Law Blog

Benefits of collaborative divorce

While divorce is often considered a contentious matter, it is possible to have a smoother divorce by concentrating more on moving on with contentment than retaliating against past wrongs. Ontario courts would like to motivate individuals to talk through divorce and are considering options to fulfill this goal. Two such options are divorce mediation and collaborative divorces.

One advantage to mediation or a collaborative divorce is that spouses may be able to save money through this process. Costs are often incurred when spouses fight over the division of their assets. A contested divorce in Ontario may cost close to $15,800, and if that divorce goes to court, the average price is $23,900. However, statistics indicate that common-sense mediated divorces can save 75 per cent of the cost of going to court with a contested divorce.

Child support in Ontario

When one child lives with one parent for the majority of the time, this parent will generally end up paying the bulk of the expenses related to raising the child. However, the parent who spends the lesser amount of time with the child is responsible for paying support, and they are deemed the payor parent. This relationship is often described in a court order or separation agreement, but these arrangements are not always in writing.

It is up to parents, who can be a biological parent, adoptive parent or step-parent, to provide financially for their child or children to the best of their ability. Someone is considered to be a step-parent if the individual has treated a child as their own family, irrespective of whether they were married to the child's parent or living in a common-law relationship, and a step-parent may be obligated to pay child support.

Overview of family mediation

Couples in Ontario who are ready to end their marriage might go through an alternative to divorce court called family mediation with a trained professional who helps them resolve their differences. The parties can attempt mediation at any time during their case. If it does not work, the parties can go to court. Family mediation offers several benefits. It is voluntary, and people can try to resolve their differences while reducing expenses. The professional also keeps the focus on what is best for the children. Participants work on improving their communication in a less formal setting, which could also benefit them in the future. While court is a public matter, mediation is private.

In order for mediation to work, clients must be willing to cooperate with the other party and not feel threatened by them. They should be open to listening to the other person and clearly communicating their concerns. Mediation can address a wide range of issues, including child custody, separation agreements, property division, child support, alimony, visitation and other related issues.

Spousal support agreements in Ontario

Individuals going through a divorce in Ontario may not be completely aware of the ins and outs of spousal support. Spousal support is money paid by one former spouse to the other after a divorce or separation. The money may be used to care for a child, relieve financial hardship and balance out any advantage or disadvantage to a spouse caused by the relationship or divorce. This can be paid monthly or in a lump sum.

The payer of spousal support is typically the one with the higher income, regardless of gender. For couples who are unmarried, common-law spouses must have lived together for at least three years or must have been in a relationship with some permanence and had a child together.

Social media reveals parents avoiding child support payments

Ontario couples who are considering divorce must also negotiate child custody and child support. Generally, child support is decided according to guidelines that take into account things like income and the needs of the child. Once a child support amount is set, one parent still may have to pursue the amount that the other parent was ordered to pay.

A parent may claim that they do not make enough money for child support payments. However, in the United States, several fathers were recently charged with felonies for failing to pay child support after their social media postings suggested a higher income.

Financial implications of divorce may not be expected

Couples in Ontario who are considering divorce may not be aware of the costs. Divorce in Canada plays out differently than it does on television and in the movies, which may come as a surprise to couples who are familiar with such depictions of the dissolution of marriages. The reason is that television shows often represent United States laws instead of those laid out in the Federal Divorce Act.

Spousal support, child support and division of assets are based on mathematical formulas that include factors such as the length of the marriage and the age of the children, not on how spouses may have behaved during the marriage. Child custody is the only aspect of divorce that may be influenced by the negative actions of either spouse. Equality is the aim when dividing marital assets.

Dividing a home during a divorce

Couples in Ontario who are facing divorce need to be aware of issues regarding dividing a house that they share. The first step is to be legally separated or divorced. Otherwise, dividing the house's value can be more complex, and the spouse who is relinquishing a share must sign a quit claim deed that consents to releasing his or her responsibility for the new property.

Getting a divorce and having the home awarded to one spouse or the other does not necessarily solve all complications. Generally, one spouse needs to reimburse the other for the cost of the house. This may happen in a few different ways. An individual may refinance the house and cash out the portion owed to the spouse who will no longer have the house. Another option is to pay off the spouse with gift funds. This may be necessary if the house has decreased in value since the purchase. These are generally borrowed from a relative and can be used for all or a part of the amount.

Understanding the basics of child custody agreements

Ontario parents may wish to know some of the basics of what goes into child custody agreements when a couple separates. These agreements cover many different issues that can vitally affect each parent's role in their child's life.

Child custody is defined as the power to make the significant decisions in a child's life. Generally, this will either be sole custody, with one parent making these decisions, or joint custody, where both parents hold equal power and must agree. This is separate from whom the child lives with. Usually the parent who is the principal caregiver for the child will be the parent that the child lives with for the most part. Another major issue with separated parents is access to the child. Different agreements will allow for the other parent to see the child at certain times and places while others will allow the parent flexible access. Some may even bar a parent's access to the child altogether.

Preparing for the financial issues that affect divorcing spouses

For some Ontario spouses, getting a divorce can be an expensive proposition, particularly for a spouse who was not working during the marriage and managing the affairs of the home instead; these individuals may not qualify for legal aid despite having no income and limited financial means. However, according to a recent piece on the subject, there are a few ways for these individuals to lessen the financial impact and plan for the cost of a divorce.

When a couple begins the divorce process, each appearance in court can be expensive if there is a lot of contention. Whether arguing over child and spousal support, how to fairly divide marital property or even getting permission to travel outside the country with a child, the legal bill can add up quickly.

Fund's worth difficult to determine

Ontario family lawyer are watching what has been labeled as one of the largest divorces in the U.K. as the founder of the Children's Investment Fund Management UK LLP and his soon-to-be ex-wife haggled over introducing the value of his funds in court. She insists that his shares are worth more than $800 million but was not permitted to submit that proof. He countered that the fund is worth closer to $100 million. His lawyer said she is due about 25 percent of the stake; she claims she should receive about 50 percent.

A lower court entered a similar ruling in April and said that the value of his assets was only speculation. His lawyer said that if he were not involved in the company, the worth would drop considerably, especially since he makes financial decisions for the firm. She estimated a range of between 513 and 872 million pounds; the latter figure is well over $1 billion.

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