What Should I Know About Family Law in Ontario?

Published On: June 14, 2022Categories: Family Law

Family law lawyers assist individuals, couples and families with legal matters arising from their separation such as parenting, decision-making authority, child support, spousal support and the division of property and/or equalization of net family property. Family law lawyers can also guide and assist the parties in filing for a Divorce with the Court. The process of separation or divorce can be tumultuous and may result in resentment and hostility if not handled with care. This is why it’s a good idea to seek legal advice from a law firm in Rockland that specializes in supporting families through these difficult situations. 

In addition to assisting individuals, couples and families with legal matters arising from their separation, family law lawyers can also assist individuals and couples with the drafting and execution of a Cohabitation Agreement or a Marriage Contract. 

Frequently Asked Questions for Family Law Lawyers in Ottawa 

1. What type of services can a family law lawyer provide? 

Couples and families whether they are contemplating marriage, cohabitation or wish to resolve the issues arising from their separation benefit from a variety of legal services provided by family law lawyers in Ottawa. In the context of a separation, a family law lawyer can assist individuals, couples, and families in engaging in negotiations, settlement discussions, 4-way meetings, mediation, or arbitration. If the parties are unable to resolve the issues arising from their separation on an amicable basis, if they fear for their safety or if there is urgency in dealing with their matter promptly, a family law lawyer may also assist clients in brining a Court Application to have the matter heard before a Family Court Judge.      

2. What is family law mediation? 

Family law mediation is an alternative dispute resolution method by which parties may wish to settle all issues arising from their separation, on an amicable basis, with the assistance of a trained impartial facilitator. A mediator is an impartial third party who does not advocate for either side. The mediator’s role is to assist the parties in reaching an agreement that is fair and benefits all parties, without the court’s intervention.  In the context of a mediation, parties may wish to be represented by counsel or to represent themselves.  Family law mediation in Prescott-Russell is an excellent choice for families that do not want to deal with the legal expenses, stress, and time that may arise in the context of a court proceeding. 

3. How do you calculate child support in Ontario? 

The child support obligation for one or both parties will depend on the parenting regime, the number of children, income and the Federal Child Support Guidelines. If one party has primary care of the child(ren), meaning that one party cares for the children for 60% or more of the time, child support is calculated based on the annual income of the other party alone. However, if the parties follow a shared parenting regime, the parties will pay set-off child support. This calculation involves setting off the amount of child support that one parent has to pay for the child(ren) against the amount of child support that the other party has to pay for the child(ren) based on their annual income and in accordance with the Federal Child Support Guidelines. If child support calculations need to be reviewed, you can contact a Rockland divorce lawyer to assist you with the calculations.

4. How is property divided at separation in Ontario? 

Property division can be a complex process and the law applies differently for married couples and common law couples.  Generally speaking, when married spouses separate, both parties have a right to equalize their property. However, when common law couples separate property is generally divided in accordance with ownership: items purchased during the relationship belong to the person who paid for them while items purchased together will usually be divided.   

5. What are the differences for common law spouses versus married spouses? 

Regardless of which type of relationship you have with your spouse, if you have children together, the law surrounding parenting, decision-making authority and child support remain the same. The law on spousal support will also apply the same way to common law spouses and married spouses.  Where the rights in a common law relationship differ from a traditional marriage is with regards to the division of property. When a traditional marriage ends, both parties have a right to equalize their property. In a common law relationship, you do not have the same rights, which could be to your advantage or detriment depending on who in the union held the most property. When common law couples separate, property is generally divided in accordance with the principles of ownership. 

6. What property rights do common law spouses have in Ontario, at separation? 

In Ontario, common-law spouses have no legal rights to the other spouses’ property. Generally speaking, this implies that any property you purchase before or during the relationship is yours and remains your sole property upon separation. There is no entitlement to the other spouses’ property upon separation. However, some exceptions may apply if a common law spouse has contributed extensively to the value of an asset that belongs to the other spouse such as a home or bank account. An argument can be made that dividing property as to ownership in such cases might be unjust.   You can protect your assets in the event of a separation by having a Cohabitation Agreement prepared by a family law lawyer. 

7. What is the difference between a family law matter and a child protection matter? 

A family law matter differs greatly from a child protection matter. Family law matters address legal issues concerning a separation namely, parenting, decision-making authority, child support, spousal support and the division of property and/or equalization whereas child protection matters, deal with children in need of protection as determined by the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) or Child and Family Services. 

If you’re going through a divorce or separation, you don’t have to face your struggles alone. 

Simard & Associates is a Rockland family law firm with over twenty years of experience representing clients in family law. We pride ourselves on providing exceptional legal services that can help you receive the best possible result in your case, whether it’s through mediation or divorce proceedings. 

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