Our family law team can assist you with drafting and advising on marital agreements, divorce, separation, division of assets, spousal and child support, and child custody and access. We advance our clients’ legal rights through negotiation, mediation, and trial. Please contact us for a consultation with one of our lawyers.
Marriage or cohabitation agreements are agreements entered into by couples who are planning on living together or marrying. These agreements can be made prior to the marriage/cohabitation or during the marriage/cohabitation with the main purpose being to protect assets such as property, brought into the relationship by one or both parties.
A proper marriage or cohabitation agreement sets out how you will address issues that could arise if you separate in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
It is important to have an agreement in place if you want to set out your own rules as to how you want to address how things will be handled upon separation. Agreements are only effective and enforceable if they are done properly which means disclosure by both parties and independent legal advice. The cost is minimal compared to what could be at stake without a valid agreement in place.
These agreements can include a wide variety of provisions however most couples tend to focus on financial issues such as:
- Excluded property
- Managing joint accounts
- Spousal support
- Division of debts
- Joint property acquired during the relationship
Our family law team can assist you with drafting and advising on marital agreements, divorce, separation, division of assets, spousal and child support, and child custody and access.
We advance our clients’ legal rights through negotiation, mediation, and trial. Please contact us for a consultation with one of our lawyers.
Divorce is the legal term of a marriage ending by an order of the court. Without this court order, a couple will remain married to each other no matter how long they’ve been separated.
Although a divorce order represents the formal conclusion of a marriage and legal change of status of adults, where children are involved or one spouse is financially dependent on the other, issues about the payment of support and the care of the children will continue. The court does not generally look out for adults when property is being divided, but the court has an underlying jurisdiction to look out for the best interests of children, and this includes child support.
Under the federal Divorce Act there is only one reason why you can apply for a divorce order: a permanent breakdown of the marriage. To prove that, there are three reasons why marriage breakdown may have occurred:
- the intentional separation of the spouses for at least one year,
- the adultery of one spouse, and, mental or physical cruelty by one spouse to the other which makes it is impossible to continue in the marriage.
Mediation is an informal, more flexible process where a neutral third party (the mediator) assists parties in resolving their issues outside of court. Mediators are specifically trained to help parties to resolve conflict. The mediator won’t impose a solution rather he or she will help you to create your own solution that you can both live with. Most people find mediation to be fast, more affordable and less stressful than going through the court process. Separation and divorce is stressful enough without adding the emotional and financial cost of court.
Why choose a lawyer mediator?
The benefits of a lawyer mediator is that they can do it all – from discussion to the final agreement. Unlike mediators from other areas such as psychology or social work, lawyer mediators understand the law and can draft a final agreement between you and your spouse.
Child support is a sum of money paid monthly and usually paid to the parent with whom the Children are primarily resident. Child support is the right of the child and the purpose is to ensure that the children continue to benefit from both parents’ financial resources. Child support is meant to cover essential expenses such as:
- School costs
Child support is determined by the Federal Child Support Guidelines (the Guidelines) and depends on the payor’s income and the number of children. The Guidelines generally apply however there are some exceptions such as when the payor earns more than $150,000.00 or where the parents share parenting time with the children equally. In the case of shared parenting arrangements, child support would be payable based on a set-off amount between the two parties’ incomes. Child support is generally adjusted year to year to take into account income changes of one or both of the parties.
Separation can be emotionally and financially challenging. Spousal support (also known as maintenance or alimony) is money paid from one spouse to the other. It is intended to help with living expenses upon separation and to encourage financial independence within a reasonable amount of time. Spouses may either reach their own agreement about spousal support and incorporate those terms into a separation agreement, or apply to court for an order for spousal support.
Unlike child support, spousal support is not automatic and the receiving spouse would need to show that they are entitled to such support. Factors to be considered in assessing entitlement are:
- The financial means and needs of both spouses
- The length of the marriage
- The roles of each spouse during their marriage
- The effect of those roles and the breakdown of the marriage on both spouse’ current financial positions
- The care of the children
The federal Divorce Act governs spousal support for married couples who are divorcing. The provincial Family Law Act governs spousal support for either unmarried in common-law relationships for married couples. Child support takes priority over spousal support where there is an application for both.