Couples can grow out of love or encounter problems, resulting in constant arguments. The most common issues leading to a breakdown in the relationship include money, incompatibility, and infidelity.
Often, the solution is to dissolve the marriage and move on from their lives. In 2020 alone, Canada granted over 42,000 divorces.
According to the Divorce Act, divorcing couples must present proof of the marriage’s breakdown. However, it’s easier said than done. There are still issues they need to iron out. They must consider child care, spousal support, and the division of property when couples decide to part ways.
When you’re at odds with your spouse, legal advice and representation from a family lawyer in Ottawa, Ontario, is a must. Family law lawyers ensure that you get a fair and just resolution to any issues.
Navigating the divorce process is often challenging. Different laws apply to specific situations. Seeking the help of a family law expert may help you secure a promising future for yourself and your children.
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In Canada, about one-third of civil court cases in Canada are family cases, translating to more than 907,000 civil court cases filed. Compared to non-family disputes, family cases are more active, mainly because of the related issues under consideration.
According to Statistics Canada, some of the typical family cases include the following:
Family law covers divorce cases when one or both spouses ask the court to dissolve their marriage. The requesting party or applicant must meet the grounds for divorce before the courts grant their request. Before filing for divorce in Ottawa or Kanata, the applicant must be able to prove the following:
Note: One of the couples must stay in the province during the divorce proceedings.
Canada is a no-fault divorce country. Couples can file for a divorce without proving that anyone is at fault. The only thing petitioners need to establish is the breakdown of their marriage. To prove this, applicants must show any ONE of the following:
In Ottawa, there are two types of divorce cases that any of the parties can file: contested and uncontested.
A contested divorce occurs when the parties don’t agree on at least one issue. The establishment of a contested divorce is when the spouse responds to a divorce application. Divorce lawyers will schedule a meeting for negotiations and financial disclosures. Sometimes, it’s possible to resort to mediation or Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
If the mediation fails, both parties and their family lawyers meet with the judge to raise contentious issues. A contested divorce generally has three meetings: a case conference, a settlement meeting, and a pre-trial proceeding. If there is no dispute resolution after all these meetings, the court will proceed with a trial.
An uncontested divorce typically results when spouses apply for a joint divorce. A simple divorce also results when one of the spouses files for a divorce and the other party doesn’t reply or object to the application.
In this kind of divorce, the parties agree on all legal consequences of divorce. These include child support, decision-making responsibilities, spousal support, parenting time, and distribution of property. Family lawyers in Ottawa can draft separation agreements or domestic contracts detailing all the arrangements.
It’s worth noting that an uncontested divorce can become contested, such as when one spouse isn’t happy with the separation agreement. Conversely, a contested divorce can become simple if both parties settle their disputes before it goes to court.
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During and after a divorce, parents must adhere to the parenting agreements stipulated in the separation agreement. Parenting arrangements, previously custody and access, exist because Canadian courts place high importance on children’s rights and safety.
The court usually grants parenting time to any one of the divorcing parties. One will become the custodial parent, while the other will have visitation rights. It’s also possible to have shared parenting time where children can spend equal time with each of their parents.
It’s essential, however, to distinguish parenting time from decision-making responsibilities. The parent with the most parenting time doesn’t mean they assume a decision-making role.
The ideal situation is when parents hold joint decision-making responsibilities. However, the court can award this role to one parent, who should still discuss critical issues with the other parent.
Parenting time can be fixed, open, or supervised. The court may withhold parenting time if contact with one or both parents adversely affects a child’s welfare.
Fixed parenting time
Fixed parenting time allows each parent to have a schedule to see their children, usually decided beforehand. The court often awards fixed parenting time whenever possible since it provides children with a structured routine. Divorce can be a stressful time for children. They need predictable, consistent routines to establish security and lower anxiety.
Open parenting time
Open parenting time may be the best option when a parent’s schedule is unpredictable. It allows a non-custodial parent to have time with the children without a fixed schedule, providing more flexibility. The courts don’t favour this arrangement because enforcing it is more challenging.
Supervised parenting time
The court understands the importance of parenting time. However, circumstances may require another person to be present during a non-custodial parent’s time with their children. That is the case with supervised parenting time. The supervisor can be the other parent (if possible), a relative, or a social worker.
Supervised parenting time may be necessary for one or more of the following circumstances where the parent:
Supervised parenting time is not necessarily a permanent arrangement. If the non-custodial parent can show improved behaviour, they can request the courts to change their parenting time.
Family lawyers can help divorcing parents draft a parenting plan to serve the child’s best interests. Get a lawyer specializing in collaborative family law for the children’s sake.
Family lawyers also handle child protection cases. They can help you apply for a restraining order against your spouse if you fear for your child’s safety.
The Ottawa government can also interfere in family affairs through the Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa (CASO). CASO can initiate court proceedings against a parent if they suspect abuse, neglect, or violence against a child.
Upon receiving a report, the society will send a social worker to interview or investigate if the allegations are true. If the CASO believes there is mistreatment, they may require parents or guardians to attend parenting classes or counselling sessions. The worst case scenario is they will remove the child from home and place them in foster care.
You should consult a family law lawyer to understand your rights if that happens to you. The decision of the CASO is not final as long as you don’t sign or admit to anything.
Adoption is another family law matter that requires the expertise of a family lawyer. Ontario requires that adoptive parents be residents and at least 18 years old. The Child, Youth and Family Services Act prohibits receiving, giving, or agreeing on payment for a child’s adoption, except for legal fees. Violating this act can result in three years of imprisonment and a fine of $25,000.
Couples wishing to adopt a child should also seek legal advice about the adoption process. Lawyers help prepare the documentary requirements to adopt a child in Ottawa legally. Aside from knowing the steps to becoming adoptive parents, it’s vital to understand the rights and responsibilities of adopting a child.
For example, prospective adoptive parents must attend group information sessions to understand the adoption process. Some sessions will focus on suitability, eligibility, and readiness for adoption. Prospective parents will also have access to childcare resources to help create a safe environment for their children.
The CASO requires adoptive parents to submit a List of Police Occurrences for the last five years. The Ottawa Police Service will obtain fingerprints and submit them to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP.)
In addition to the other areas of family law, lawyers also take on property distribution issues, particularly during a divorce. In Ottawa, separating couples are entitled to equal shares of their marital assets acquired during the marriage.
The assets include the house, vehicles, furniture, and money earned during the marriage. Some assets acquired during the marriage will not be subject to property division. One example of this would be a life insurance payout, personal injury settlements, or inherited or gifted property.
Common-law partners in Ottawa do not have the same rights to property division as married couples under Ontario’s Family Law Act. Any property or assets brought into the relationship remain the property of the person who bought it.
Suppose you contributed financially to the acquisition of an asset or property of your partner. In that case, you might have a right to get compensation. However, getting any part of the asset or property back may require filing a trust or unjust enrichment case. Other factors may come into play, primarily if cohabitation agreements exist.
These are only some family law matters requiring law services from a collaborative family law expert in Ottawa.
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Going through the intricacies of family issues can be emotionally draining. During this time, a reliable legal expert will be of great help. Here are some of the critical roles that family lawyers in Ottawa play.
Family lawyers provide legal advice and representation for various family law issues. These include divorce, child custody, child support, visitation rights, paternity testing, domestic violence restraining orders, and property division.
It’s also their role to help clients understand their situation. This includes informing their clients if they have a strong chance of getting custody of their child. They will also share possible strategies to get more parenting time. Family lawyers will also set their client’s expectations after case settlement and how the family case will affect their future.
In divorce proceedings, a family lawyer can explain the grounds for divorce and if they need to answer. For example, suppose the other party claims adultery as the reason for the marriage breakdown. In that case, lawyers can help clients gather information and evidence to prove otherwise. They can also facilitate dispute resolution.
Providing legal advice isn’t only limited to divorce cases. They can advise clients about pre-nuptial agreements, marriage contracts, estate planning, and adoption. The value of family lawyers is their ability to advise objectively on the best course of action.
Accounting for marital assets is a vital aspect of a divorce. It’s one of the first things a lawyer will do during a divorce. Asset accounting and record-keeping ensure all parties know what belongs to whom and how much it is worth.
Determining responsibility for liabilities is also critical. These include credit card balances, loans and other debts incurred during the marriage. The lawyer can also document income received from businesses, pensions, joint projects, and expenses incurred.
The purpose of accounting for marital assets is to ensure that both parties are aware of all assets and debts and their current values. This allows them to determine the financial impact of divorce on each person’s future.
A family lawyer’s role is to help clients get through these difficult times. They do this by ensuring the protection of their rights during this process. Family lawyers will help properly distribute property through an objective listing of family assets and liabilities.
A divorce will have a significant impact on the finances of both parties. A family lawyer will review the application for divorce and assess the client’s financial situation. With their findings, they can say if their client can expect to receive or pay spousal support.
Spousal support may be necessary if there is a significant gap in their income status. For example, one spouse sacrificed their capacity to earn to allow the other spouse’s career to advance. Lawyers can also identify if the spouse will have a right to a business interest, specifically if it was a joint effort.
When the marriage involves children, divorce can become a bit more complicated. Both parties will often fight over who will get custody of their children. However, it doesn’t mean the divorce or losing custody of the children frees the parent from responsibilities. They may still need to pay child support if they don’t have custody.
Child support applies to dependent children under the age of 18. Children over 18 who have a disability or are still in school must also receive child support.
How much should a parent pay for child support? It depends on several factors but mainly refers to the Federal Child Support Guidelines. It considers the paying parent’s gross income and the number of children involved.
A family lawyer helps assess if the amount stipulated in the court order follows the guidelines. One parent cannot use the failure to pay child support to deny the other parent access to their children.
Negotiations can occur before a trial so that both parties can mutually control the process and the outcome. It’s also an option if both parties want to avoid dealing with lengthy litigation and its associated costs.
Disputes are typical regarding the division of property or child and spousal support, where financial matters become an issue. If both parties can’t agree on the terms of separation and divorce, a family lawyer can negotiate a fair settlement.
Lawyers can also serve as representatives when one or both spouses want to avoid personal contact. Such an instance can happen if the other party has a history of abusive behaviour.
Negotiations bear fruitful results if both parties provide complete financial disclosure. Lawyers can do a thorough investigation to prevent any attempt to hide information that would cause the talks to fail.
Family lawyers can also draft a written offer to settle. They can speed up negotiations by including all formal proposals in the draft to resolve all open issues.
In some cases, spouses prefer family arbitration. In this process, a third-party arbitrator with expertise in family law sits in place of a judge. Unlike litigations and court proceedings, arbitrations are private. The information doesn’t go on the public record. They are also faster to resolve, providing both parties with a binding agreement as enforceable as a court order.
Family legal disputes can be challenging to navigate in court proceedings. While individuals can represent themselves in court, it is not a good idea. It is fatally easy for anyone who is not a family law lawyer to make critical mistakes.
If a client needs to appear in court, their family lawyer can represent them. The lawyer can also accompany a client during the hearing and provide legal advice. They may also prevent further litigation by negotiating an out-of-court settlement.
A family lawyer can help with a wide range of law services. These range from representing spouses in divorce cases to assisting children and parents decide their future. A family lawyer also ensures the filing of paperwork necessary to settle an estate is correct and on time.
Settle arbitration and family law issues with an Ottawa family law firm well-versed in collaborative practice.
Nussbaum Family Law is committed to protecting the rights of our clients. If you are struggling with legal issues involving your family, please get in touch with one of our experienced family lawyers for assistance today!
Family legal issues can be emotionally and mentally draining. It often involves contentious encounters with the closest people in your life when fighting for your rights. It can be complicated and messy. Fortunately, family law lawyers can provide you with the support you need during this trying time.
A family law lawyer is a legal expert on a wide range of issues. Nussbaum Family Law is a firm you can trust to resolve your Ottawa case reasonably and cost-effectively.
Our family law lawyers have years of experience and success in handling all types of cases in Ontario. These include divorce, adoption, spousal and child support, child custody, division of property, and estate cases.
Don’t hesitate to ask for help with your legal family issues and disputes. Contact us for a free consultation so we can start putting your mind at ease.
Rates vary widely depending on the law firm. For example, a law office with years of experience and a good track record typically costs more than a less-established firm. Prepare to shell out $1,000 as a retainer and a $200 hourly rate during the initial consultation.
During the legal process, the average cost for legal coaching and representation can go up to $250 per hour. Drafting a separation agreement can set you back $3,500 while going to trial can cost up to $45,000.
In Canada, divorce becomes final 31 days after the judge grants the order, provided no one files an appeal. A divorcee can file for remarriage after this period.
Canada doesn’t impose a specific age when children can refuse to see a parent or decide with whom they want to live. The courts understand that each child has unique needs and factor these into their decision.