WHAT IS FAMILY LAW?
Family law is a law of relationships between adults inter se, between adults and children, and between both adults and children and the State, as continually influenced by social and demographic changes. Family law is the law governing family disputes and obligations. Essentially it is a form of a legal practice area that focuses on issues involving family relationships, such as divorce, spousal support, child support, division of assets during the matrimonial breakdown, decision-making responsibility, parenting time, and adoption, among others. Thus family law is one of the most emotional areas of law that addresses issues relating to complex family or domestic relationships.
Attorneys and law firms specializing in family law can represent clients in family court proceedings or related negotiations. They can also draft important legal documents such as Applications and supporting documents in court, as well as several domestic contracts, including but not limited to separation agreements, cohabitation agreements, and the like.
WHAT IS INCLUDED IN FAMILY LAW?
Family cases are a type of civil case, but they generally involve issues between or concerning spouses, parents, and children. Canadian family courts handle a wide variety of cases involving domestic matters. The most common issues handled at family court include:
- Marriage Dissolution. When someone wants to end a marriage, they can file a case at family court to ask for a court order ending the marriage. Marriages can be terminated through divorce or annulment cases. The court can also grant a separation, where the court issues orders regarding property, alimony, and child custody, but the parties remain legally married.
- Paternity and Child Custody. When a man needs to be declared the father of a child, either parent can file a case asking the family court to determine paternity. This permanently establishes the father of the child. Unmarried parents can also ask the court to order legal custody, physical custody, visitation schedules, and child support.
- Protection Orders Against Domestic Violence. Victims of domestic violence can ask the family court to issue protection orders to keep their abuser away.
- Name Changes. A child or an adult may be able to legally change their name through a name change case at family court.
- Guardianship. Guardianship involves determining who will be responsible for the medical, personal, and financial decisions of a child or an adult who cannot care for themselves.
- Termination of Parental Rights and Adoptions. Suppose there are serious reasons why a parent should no longer have a parental relationship with a child (such as abandonment, neglect, abuse, etc.). In that case, the family court may terminate that parent’s rights. If someone else wants to become a child’s legal parent, the family court can grant an adoption where the parent-child relationship is legally created.
- Juvenile Matters. Family court oversees all matters where there are allegations of child abuse, child neglect, or where minors are accused of participating in illegal behavior. These matters are handled mainly by the District Attorney Juvenile Division. The family court can also approve work permits for minors under the age of 14.
- Emancipation and Approval of Underage Marriages. Those under the age of 18 who wish to marry or want to be “emancipated” (meaning, being legally free from the control of their parents) can petition the family court for approval.
WHAT IS AN EXAMPLE OF FAMILY LAW?
Examples of family law issues include how to divide property and real estate between separating spouses, where children will live upon separation of their parents, and how much the payor parent owes their child(ren) towards child support.
WHAT IS A FAMILY LEGALLY?
At its most basic level, Statistics Canada defines a family as a couple — with or without children, married or common-law — or a lone parent with at least one child in the same house.
WHAT IS A FAMILY LAW LAWYER?
Family lawyers are involved in the personal aspects of their clients’ lives, including divorce, child custody (now decision-making responsibility and parenting time), alimony, abuse and neglect proceedings, successions, family partitions, etc. A family lawyer is expected to help a client resolve any issue relating to his/her family. Our lawyers at Nussbaum Law are well trained and deal with all aspects of family law. We understand the need to listen to our clients and apply an individualised and customised approach to every case.
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WHAT IS A FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY CALLED?
A family law lawyer is generally referred to as a family lawyer or a divorce lawyer. The terms are used interchangeably. However, it is essential to note that all divorce is only a subset of family law. Therefore all family lawyers are divorce lawyers, but all divorce lawyers may not necessarily deal with all aspects of family law.
WHAT DOES A FAMILY LAW LAWYER DO?
Your family law attorney should be well versed in the Federal and Provincial Statutes, prevailing case law, and practice and procedure governing family law.
He or she will discuss with you:
- what constitutes separation;
- entering prenuptial agreements or postnuptial agreements;
- decision making responsibility, parenting time, and child support if you have children;
- entitlement, amount, and duration of spousal support;
- the sale or transfer of ownership of your matrimonial home;
- division of property, such as a cottage or investments; and
- other issues that arise upon the breakdown of a marriage or common-law relationship.
You can expect that when you retain your lawyer, you will review and execute a formal Retainer Agreement and be given a detailed Memorandum advising you of the practices and procedures of the Firm.
Because family law matters require substantial disclosure, your lawyer will be asking you for specific financial disclosure to discuss the issues listed above as they are related to spousal or child support.
Your lawyer will, as and when applicable, and from time to time, prepare and provide to you various calculations, including but not limited to:
- Net Family Property Statements (to determine the amount of an equalization payment to be made in your matter)
- Spousal Support Advisory Guideline Calculations (to determine the amount and duration of spousal support payment to be made in your matter)
- Calculation of arrears of support and/or carrying costs of the home
Your family law lawyer will keep you informed of all happenings in your case and will discuss with you options for settlement and strategies to resolve your issues. Your lawyer will generate options best suited to your specific situation.
Ultimately, if you can resolve your matter on an amicable basis, your lawyer will draft a comprehensive separation agreement to be signed by you and your spouse.
Your lawyer will, throughout the process, attempt to resolve your matter in the fastest and most cost-effective way possible, keeping in mind the circumstances of your case.
WHY SHOULD YOU HIRE A FAMILY LAW LAWYER?
Deciding whether or not you need a family lawyer can be difficult. This is especially when it comes to your legal situations, such as the breakdown of a relationship or decisions regarding custody and property.
Nussbaum Law will be by your side throughout the process. Here are a few reasons our family lawyers at Nussbaum Law can help:
- All of the necessary paperwork is handled. Numerous documents must be completed during your family court case that require precision and expertise. These forms can be quite overwhelming for a client to complete by themselves.
- The process becomes less emotional. When you have to deal with the aspects of your family issues on your own, it’s sometimes too emotional to bear. Our family lawyer helps you focus on the legalities and the most important points. This reduces the emotion involved.
- Hiring a family lawyer allows you to understand the terms of your settlement better. Getting divorced can involve various steps, including exchanging financial documents, negotiation, obtaining expert reports, and possibly appearing in court. Your family lawyer makes these steps much easier to navigate and understand.
WHEN SHOULD YOU HIRE A FAMILY LAW LAWYER?
You can choose to consult a family law firm and hire a family lawyer at any time, depending on how urgently you need their services. However, it is recommended to hire a family law lawyer from the very inception, as this would allow them to be well versed with your case and may, in turn, lead to faster resolutions.
HOW DO YOU HIRE A GOOD FAMILY LAW LAWYER?
When going through a separation, we understand how difficult and overwhelming it can be. Therefore, it is highly imperative to have a good lawyer by your side to assist you professionally and emotionally, one that will safeguard your interest. So how do you find a good family law lawyer?
- Decide what route you want to go and what services you need. For example, whether it is litigation or mediation, check whether your prospective lawyer has experience in that field.
- Decide what you can afford
- Lawyer’s ratings. Lawyer rating agencies are not infallible. A lawyer who chooses not to advertise or participate in a particular rating site’s program may be rated poorly, even though they may be an amazing lawyer. You need to remember that people going through a divorce are not happy. Sometimes, even if a lawyer does an outstanding job for them, those people complain.
- Find a lawyer who is experienced in family law. Do not go as per the advice of people who are non-lawyers or non-family law lawyers. Each area of practice needs a qualified family law lawyer who is well versed in the subject.
WHAT MAKES A GOOD FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY?
Apart from the requisite knowledge, experience, and skillset on various legal issues, it is crucial for a good family law lawyer must be emotionally intelligent. This stems from the need to be compassionate and sympathetic to the client’s cause but not getting carried away to the point that they make it their own personal cause, thereby affecting the ability to advocate for the client efficiently.
Our lawyers at Nussbaum Law are incredibly patient and understand the situation you and your family are in. Our family lawyers aim to understand the emotional and mental state of the client going through such a situation and strive to do their utmost best in achieving desired results.
WHAT SKILLS DO FAMILY LAW LAWYERS NEED?
Beyond the specialized knowledge, succeeding as a family lawyer requires the same basic skills as other legal areas: strong written and verbal communication, time management, critical thinking, analysis, etc. However, apart from those same basic skills, strong “people skills” are especially important for family lawyers. Given the deeply personal issues inherent to family law, the ability to relate calmly and constructively with people who may be emotionally vulnerable is a must.
For a successful career, family law lawyers need to possess the following:
- Aptitude in client-facing matters and exceptional communication skills.
- The ability to empathise while remaining professional.
- The ability to cope with emotionally taxing situations.
- Passion for helping people and fostering relationships.
- Strong drafting and negotiating skills.
- Sound research skills
- Understanding and experience of litigation and other dispute resolution methods
- The ability to explain legal matters to clients with little or no legal knowledge.
- Legal jargon can be quite complex and convoluted at times. It is critical to have the ability to explain legal matters to clients with little or no legal knowledge.
HOW MUCH DOES A TORONTO FAMILY LAWYER CHARGE?
Family law is cerebral and not mechanical. Some people mistakenly think of legal representation as a service similar to a mechanic.
A family law lawyer has to deal with quite a few variables while dealing with your case. Drafting an Application, for example, does not take a set specific amount of time. It depends on the complexity of your case, the strategies needed to build a strong case, researching case laws in your favour, researching case laws that may exist which are not in your favour but developing specific counter-arguments, and reviewing hundreds of pages of disclosures, and the like.
The hourly costs for lawyers, whether in Toronto or anywhere else in Canada, can vary greatly with everything from $100 per hour to $650 per hour. When choosing a lawyer, this is rarely a time to be searching for a bargain. Generally, a Toronto family lawyer making upwards of $300/hour is one who has the experience, and that experience can save you far more in the long run.
Having said that, our lawyers at Nussbaum Law charge anywhere between $275.00 to $440.00 (+HST) an hour, without compromising on the expertise and skills required to deal with your case.
WHAT IS INTERESTING ABOUT FAMILY LAW?
In family law, you can be more than a lawyer assessing and providing legal advice for clients on their legal rights. You can help an individual through one of the most stressful experiences in life. It is very rewarding to know you’ve helped someone through such a difficult time.
While rewarding, it can also be quite difficult to go through these events with your clients. One of the biggest challenges for attorneys is when one or both parties are set on making the process as difficult as possible in a self-defeating attempt to hurt the other party.
Having said that, making a difference in people’s lives and having a positive impact means appreciating how intrinsic and personal divorce and child custody determinations are to parties. Family law proceedings have the potential to profoundly affect relationships, at the most fundamental level.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FAMILY LAW AND DIVORCE LAW?
Although the two terms are often used interchangeably, Family Law is a catch-all, umbrella term covering a broad range of legal topics that include
- division of family property upon separation and divorce
- spousal and child support
- child custody and access
- adoption and parentage
- child protection
- dependents’ relief applications
In Ontario, Family Law issues are covered mainly by provincial legislation.
Divorce Law, in contrast, is technically governed by federal legislation in the form of the Divorce Act, which applies equally across Canada.
However, the term has grown to mean more than simply the administrative dissolution of a marriage; this is because divorce-related steps are really intertwined with some of the Family Law issues listed above, especially family property, child support, and custody. In short, “Divorce Law” can be viewed as a sub-set of the broader topic of Family Law.
Nussbaum Law is a legal practice dedicated exclusively to Family Law in Toronto.
Our legal staff understands that separation and divorce is an emotional time, and we are committed to providing a personal approach to all our clients. Our team of Toronto family lawyers understands that each family situation is unique, and we will take the time to listen to your situation so we can understand your family values. We advocate on your behalf to ensure you receive the best possible outcome in your Toronto family law case. The goal of our family law practice is to resolve disputes through mediation and negotiation to save you time so you can move forward with your life. If it is required, our lawyers and staff have extensive experience in litigating cases in both the Superior Court and Ontario Court of Justice.
Nussbaum Law provides legal services in all areas of family law and divorce law. Nussbaum Law also provides wills and estate legal services. We are committed to bettering the lives of those we represent by providing efficient, cost-effective, and quality legal services.
FAQs on Family Law and Hiring a Toronto Family Lawyer
1. Can you represent yourself at a family law trial?
Yes, you can opt to represent yourself at a family law trial. However, family law does have a lot of technicalities that most laymen do not have a complete grasp on. It is still best to hire a family lawyer or at least consult one before heading to trial.
2. Will a jury be present in a family trial?
No. The judge makes the final decisions in family trials. However, there is still the possibility of an audience since trials are mostly open to the public.
3. Can a family lawyer help me get a restraining order?
Yes, especially if the restraining order is against a former partner, spouse, or family member.