"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

Different types of child custody

Parents going through a divorce in Ontario may want to become familiar with the different kinds of child custody. Depending on the custody arrangement that is worked out during a divorce, a parent may have joint custody, sole custody or access. The custody arrangement may be arranged by parents during mediation or decided by a judge in a court hearing.

If parents are able to make decisions about their child together, a judge may approve an order for joint child custody. Because joint custody means both parents will have to agree on all major decisions about their child's life, this arrangement requires a lot of communication between the two parents. In some cases, parents with joint custody may decide to divide decision-making responsibilities rather than communicate with each other about each decision.

Arbitration to resolve family law disputes in Ontario

The Arbitration Act became law 1991, and it provides a way for Ontario residents to resolve disputes in a less formal atmosphere than a courtroom. While the law allows some latitude regarding how the parties involved will resolve their issues, it does require that the procedure chosen is fair to both sides. The process is governed by an arbitration agreement that is agreed by both parties and sets out what issues will be decided. In the case of family law arbitration, these issues could involve the division of a divorcing couples' assets, spousal support or child custody.

If a couple elects to pursue arbitration during a divorce, they will each be given the opportunity to make their position clear to the arbitrator. While the rules during arbitration are less rigid than in an Ontario courtroom, there are similarities. Both sides will be able to present evidence and call witnesses, and both may be represented by a lawyer.

How to change a child support order

A noncustodial parent in Ontario may be able to have a child support order modified to reflect the current circumstances of all family members involved. Some possible reasons why a parent might want a child support order to be changed include changes to a parent's income or the remarriage of one of the former spouses. If the child has graduated from high school and has begun working, this also could be a catalyst for a child support order to be changed.

For a child support order to be legally changed, the parents must negotiate new child support terms in their domestic contract. The Superior Court of Justice or the Ontario Court of Justice must approve the new terms before the new contract can be sent to the Family Responsibility Office.

Ontario guidelines for enforcing spousal support

Ontario couples who are divorcing may wonder how spousal support is enforced. All spousal support goes through a provincial Family Responsibility Office unless the spouse who receives the payment has opted to be paid directly by the other spouse. This may have the advantage of receiving payments more quickly and easily, but it also means that it might be necessary to refile with FRO for a fee if there are payment problems. However, the FRO does have one limitation. It can only enforce collection in countries where it has an agreement. If the person paying spousal support lives in a country that does not have an agreement with the FRO, it cannot assist an individual with collection.

The FRO has a number of strategies for collecting spousal support. It can garnish bank accounts or register a lien against the nonpaying spouse's property. It can also deduct support from an individual's income, and this is not just limited to wages. Pension, severance pay, tax refunds and more may all be subject to seizure in order to pay the spouse to whom it is owed.

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.

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