"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

Comedic couple officially files for divorce

Entertainment fans in Ontario might have heard that Will Arnett submitted the legal documents in Los Angeles on April 8 seeking a divorce from Amy Poehler although the celebrity couple separated more than 18 months ago. He listed irreconcilable differences as the reason for the divorce.

Arnett is asking for joint custody of the couple's two boys, ages 3 and 5. The couple was married for nine years and announced their separation, which was reported as amicable, in September 2012. The marriage was the first for Poehler and the second for Arnett.

Online divorce may not be best for all

While many Ontario spouses may consider using online forms to file their divorces, this may not be the best option. This strategy gives the illusion that a divorce lawyer is not necessary, but a person who files pro se may wind up losing a significant stake in the property division process and rights pertaining to their children.

One of the problems with using online forms is assuming that the filer knows all important information about the couple's finances. However, this is often not the case. The other spouse may hide assets, or the couple's liabilities might be complicated. By using online forms, individuals may wind up not including an asset that should be divided between the couple or the divorce decree may not include a directive pertaining to a specific debt. Online forms require a person to simply input the data. However, a family law lawyer could provide more in-depth services, such as sending interrogatories and requests for admission in order to gather information about the couple's marital assets and debts.

Fair property division during a high asset divorce

When someone leaves a marriage in Ontario, he or she will usually face the challenge of the division of property. This issue can be even more complicated for couples with a high net worth as the assets tend to be more complex. In some cases, they might be difficult to value properly and aren't easily divisible between two parties. Examples can include business interests, retirement accounts and hedge funds.

One lawyer said that he handled the negotiation of complex assets in a company partnership by helping the parties decide how many shares of the company to take. Traditional views would involve payment of a lump sum or one party paying the other party money over a certain length of time. However, if the value of the company increases drastically or drops suddenly, the settlement runs into further complications, so an up-front resolution can be fairer.

Division of marital assets could cost one man billions in divorce

Couples in Ontario that have a high net worth may be interested in the story of an American oil billionaire and the legal issues he is facing in his divorce. The potential division of billions of dollars in company shares is at stake in a future court hearing.

Harold Hamm's net worth is estimated to be around $17.5 billion, reportedly making him the 44th richest person in the world. Much of this wealth comes from his majority stake in the company that he founded, Continental Resources Inc. After the company's initial public offering in 2007, the value of his shares has increased by $13.2 billion. In 1988, Hamm married his wife, Sue Ann. The two decided in 2012 to file for divorce.

Divorce authority makes co-parenting recommendations

Ontario residents going through the divorce process may encounter particular emotional challenges related to sharing the duties of parenting the children of the marriage after everything is said and done. According to the author of a book dealing with the subject, approaching the matter of co-parenting with a different and measured perspective can both reduce the likelihood of in-court contention over common issues such as custody as well as model important lessons for the children.

The authority on the subject recommended that divorcing parents first look at their situation from a fresh perspective. Instead of the relationship taking the divorcing couple as its centre with children happening to be involved, she recommended both parties thinking of themselves as co-parents who place the children at the centre. Such an approach means that both parties must be mindful of how they conduct themselves around the children so that they appropriately model "how to handle conflict." Even in situations of "high conflict," parents were advised to learn to "look the other way" and consider the children's best interests before reacting to emotions.

The need for more Unified Family Courts

Family professionals in Ontario are recognizing the value of providing for parent education when a couple decides to divorce. For example, the classes can help reduce conflict between the pair, which results in a better environment for their children. However, these classes need the help of the federal government in order to be implemented regularly and more effectively. After the parents attend classes, they can then go through mediation instead of the sometimes contentious process of a trial. Although this process is preferred, it needs to be made available to everyone going through a divorce to ensure that parties aren't taken advantage of by their former partners.

While a trial might be advisable in some child custody cases, it's often in the best interests of all parties to settle a case out of court. Judges recognize this issue and work to help parties reach a settlement. One way to help the process is through a Unified Family Court. Despite their practicality, provinces and the federal government can't agree on the best way to enact these courts.

How grey divorce affects retirement

When a couple in Ontario over the age of 50 ends a marriage, they face different issues than their younger counterparts. While younger people have time to begin over and work toward retirement plans, older couples do not always have the same luxury and may find they deal with significant setbacks. A recent study of older divorcees reported that divorce meant a delay in retirement for about 80 percent of the respondents because they will likely have to work longer than originally planned.

One financial planner noted that divorce brings emotional freedom but can cause people significant financial setbacks. If retirement is quickly approaching, the person could need to make some adjustments. Either party can transfer to the other their registered retirement savings plans and will not face tax penalties as long as they aren't residing together at the time the property is divided and there is a court order regarding the divorce. Spousal RRSP contributions can continue up until the date of the divorce.

Trends show changes in perception of child custody

For decades, Ontario courts have made determinations in a disproportionate number for full custody going to mothers while fathers were left to see their children only a few days each month. However, advocates across the country are pushing for change in child custody laws and how the courts treat these cases.

Recently, in the U.S., the issues has become contentious. Connecticut created a special task force to study the issue of shared parenting, which provides approximately equal time to each parent to spend with their children. The task force is expected to release a report regarding its findings. Maryland established a similar commission that is expected to release a report by the end of the year. Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma and Wisconsin are presently promoting shared parenting in their legislation. A bill in Florida that would have increased the minimum amount of parenting time from 25 percent to 35 percent was presented but ultimately vetoed by the governor because of issues related to alimony reform also included in the bill.

Retirement planning and divorce

When a divorce occurs after the age of 50, a person in Ontario who is ordered to pay spousal support might worry about how unexpected expenses will affect retirement plans. In the case of one man, who is responsible for paying $50,000 in spousal support annually after his divorce, professionals weighed in on maximizing assets and making the most of his time before retirement so that he may be able to feel more financially secure.

One financial planner, who is based in Vancouver, recommended that the man, who has $84,000 allocated for investment, put more money to his TFSA and increase his contributions to his RRSPs. She also suggested that leftover investment money should be placed in to mutual funds and that $15,000 should be kept in an emergency savings account. According to the planner, the man should also take steps to readjust his investments over time, limiting his risk as he gets older and diversifying his current stock portfolio, which is currently reliant on stocks in a number of companies operating in Canada and the U.S.

Supreme Court declines to hear support case

In some Ontario divorce cases, former spouses are required to pay spousal support. However, those cases do not usually involve a requirement to pay $400,000 in support. One international case involving a former couple involves a large spousal support award. Ultimately, the case has come to a close as the Supreme Court of Canada has refused to hear it.

The case involves a Halifax businessman and his ex-wife. The couple agreed to a marriage contract in 2008, which guaranteed the wife a trust valued at $2 million. The wife waived claims for other assets or spousal support in exchange for the trust. The agreement also stated that Nova Scotia law would be adhered to if the couple were ever to divorce. In 2008 after signing the contract, the couple moved to Florida, and they separated in 2009 while still in Florida. The wife filed for divorce in Florida, and the man filed in Nova Scotia.

>> Get Help Today

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an lawyer-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

Subscribe to this blog’s feed FindLaw Network