"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

Canadian housing prices and divorce

The value of real estate in Ontario has skyrocketed over the past few years, posing a unique problem for people who wish to divorce. When looking at statistics, it appears that more couples tend to divorce when housing values rise and their home equity increases.

For couples who do file after a significant increase in home equity, the house itself can end up being more of a hindrance than anything. If couples plan to sell the home in order to split the accrued equity, the prices in today's market often prohibit both from finding comparable new places to live, forcing many to move into apartments or to rent.

Can a non-parent gain custody of a child?

Residents in Ontario may benefit from learning more about how non-parents can obtain custody rights to a child. In Ontario, an individual is considered a non-parent unless they have adopted the child, are the biological parent, were declared as the parent by a court order or are presumed to be the father by the Children's Law Reform Act.

Non-parents are required to possess a court order as a proof of custody in order to apply for a passport, acquire benefits for the child, provide consent for medical treatment or register the child in school. In order to receive a custody order, non-parents are required to submit a police records check, a form that allows children aid societies to supply the applicant's personal information, Form 35.1 and Form 8. Form 35.1 is an affidavit in support of claim for custody or access, and Form 8 is the custody application.

Toronto property division in high-asset divorces

When a couple ends their marriage, they are dissolving not only their personal relationship but are dividing their assets. Divorce laws are in place to ensure an equitable division of their property. The couple has the option of settling this matter between themselves or through arbitration or mediation. A third party can work with them to resolve their financial issues and come to a fair agreement. Greg Cooper is such a mediator/arbitrator with Cooper ADR and has a record of accomplishment of working with clients during complicated and high-asset divorces. His background and wisdom can assist you as you negotiate a solution with your soon-to-be ex.

Throughout his years as an ADR lawyer, Mr. Cooper has worked with complex divorce cases. He has worked with couples who own joint interest in a business and significant retirement accounts as well as couples with fluctuating investments, such as foreign currencies or certain stocks. He also has experience with other complex divisions, including couples who have more than one property, such as their primary residence, a cottage or a vacation home

Data shows family dynamics changing nationally

Data for Ontario and across the nation shows that 64 per cent of spouses who cheat on their partner use a mobile device, such as a smartphone or a tablet. In addition, they also cheat even when their spouse is in the room with them. Victoria Milan is a dating company that helps married people find a partner when they want to have an affair. The company has amassed four million members globally in 33 nations.

The founder of the company explained that electronics allows people to sext from a gadget while keeping their conversations private. Only 12 per cent of more than 11,000 members of the site were not worried about getting caught. An estimated 90 per cent used their cell phones to connect with their lover. Data further shows that the number of married couples fell from 70 per cent to 67 per cent between 2001 and 2011 - a drop of 3 per cent. In addition, the numbers of single-person households, common-law couples and same-sex couples increased as the numbers of married, opposite-sex couples decreased.

Purpose and areas of focus for parenting plans

The development of a parenting plan is an important step in many divorces involving children in Ontario. A parenting plan is a document outlining how the children will be raised following divorce, and the parents should focus on the needs of the children while developing the plan.

There are no hard rules for the contents of the document. It should be concrete enough to be useful, but it should also be flexible. A good parenting plan will reduce the likelihood of conflict between the parents by setting out expectations and guidelines while considering the ages of the children and the parents' realistic ability to cooperate with one another.

Why mediation may be a good idea for divorcing couples

Family mediation may be worthwhile for Ontario couples who are unable to settle their differences on their own. Mediation is voluntary, and one or both parties may leave at any time. One of the main benefits of mediation is that it gives couples a chance to communicate in an effective manner. Over the long-term, this may help protect the best interest of them and any children who might be involved.

With divorce mediation, both parties must be willing to give it an honest chance. Otherwise, the process will not be effective or result in any meaningful solutions to the problems that exist. Furthermore, both parties must feel safe around each other. As mediation is a forum for compromise, both parties must be willing to listen to the other without interrupting.

Separating individuals may be entitled to spousal support

When a couple has children together, one partner will often stay at home with the children rather than work. Even couples or spouses who do not have children together but who live together for many years may wind up putting themselves at an economic disadvantage for the benefit of the relationship. The law in Ontario recognizes that spouses or common-law spouses may have a hard time getting back on their feet after a separation, and it affords individuals the right to request spousal support. Common-law couples must live together for at least three years prior to separation to request spousal support. Alternatively, common-law couples may demonstrate that there was some permanence to their relationship or that they have children together.

Spouses may work with attorneys to draft a written support agreement. If spouses cannot reach an agreement, a judge or an arbitrator may need to decide if spousal support is warranted. Judges will determine the amount of spousal support to which one spouse is entitled, and they will also establish a period of time over which the payments must be made. Payments may either be made on a monthly basis or as a lump sum. Lump-sum payments are not tax deductible for the payor spouse, but monthly payments are. Likewise, a receiving spouse will only be taxed on payments if they are made on a monthly basis.

Property division when a marriage ends

In Ontario and across Canada, a divorce means that the partnership of a marriage ends the couple's shared finances. They will need to divide their assets fairly, which can be a complicated process. Generally, the couple must split all assets evenly that they acquired during their marriage. If said assets increased in value, they will also share the proceeds.

However, some property is excluded from this rule, such as gifts, inheritances and insurance monies. In addition, special rules apply to the family home, which must be equally divided during the divorce. This is true even if one person brought it into the marriage, inherited it or received it as a gift. However, the parties can agree on a fair division of the property. While the courts might intervene, they will generally divide the home in a 50-50 split. Since the division of property can be quite complex, family law attorneys can help with the process.

Determining spousal support

Getting a divorce in Ontario may also mean dealing with issues of spousal support. Several criteria are considered regarding qualification for support, how much that support will be and for how long.

Spousal support comes in different kinds. Some couples agree to various levels of support or types of asset division in a prenuptial agreement, and that is known as contractual spousal support.

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.

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