What Should you Know About Family Law in Ontario?

Dealing with family law matters can be a highly stressful and confusing experience. At Simard and Associates, we have been assisting clients with legal matters in Clarence-Rockland and Ottawa for over two decades. Let’s address some of the most common questions and concerns related to family law. 

Do common law spouses and married spouses have the same legal rights when separating?

Not necessarily. While common law spouses and married spouses might have the same rights on issues related to spousal support, child support or parenting, the rules may greatly differ for property matters. It’s important to consult with a family law professional to understand the specific implications for your situation. 

Can I resolve my separation without going to court?

Yes, there are various options available, such as collaborative law, lawyer-based negotiations, and family law mediation, which can help the involved parties reach an amicable separation agreement without going through the legal court system. These alternative dispute resolution methods can often lead to quicker and less adversarial outcomes. 

My spouse and I are separating; can we meet the same lawyer?

No, even if you agree to the terms of your separation, a lawyer cannot meet with both spouses and provide them with legal advice. However, if you decide to participate in family law mediation, a neutral party (a lawyer mediator) can meet with both parties and assist in resolving all matters arising from your separation.  

My spouse and I have just separated, what happens to my assets?

In Ontario, the Federal Divorce Act and the Provincial Family Law Act established the rules and exceptions used by the courts to divide and equalize the value of married spouses’ assets after they separate. It’s crucial to consult with a qualified family law lawyer to understand how these laws may apply to your situation. 

I am separating. What happens to our house?

Usually, you will need the consent of your marital/common law spouse if you wish to sell or transfer any property, unless you have an explicit court order that allows you to transact without consent. Both spouses normally also have the right to access/live in the house until a resolution. It’s important to seek legal advice to navigate property matters and understand your rights and responsibilities. 

Do I need to review my Separation Agreement periodically?

Not necessarily. Some provisions of your Separation Agreement (such as child support) are reviewed annually, but most terms are non-variable or can be only varied if there is a material change in circumstance.  

I’m separating, do I need to get a divorce?

No. Separation and divorce are two different concepts, and whether or not to get a divorce depends on the circumstances of your separation. Consulting with a family law professional can help you make an informed decision based on your specific situation. 

If we share parenting time equally, does either spouse need to pay child support?

Yes, in most situations, child support will still be applicable, even if you have parenting time equally (or almost equally). It is also important to work with a family law lawyer to determine the appropriate child support arrangements, based on your situation and the income available to your family. 

Am I entitled to Child Support?

Establishing child support involves a nuanced evaluation, taking into account factors such as the child’s residency schedule, parents’ respective incomes, employment status, and any special needs. Consulting a qualified legal advisor who specializes in family law is paramount in gaining a thorough understanding of your rights and obligations pertaining to child support. 

Is Child Support Applicable for common law partners?

Absolutely, it’s imperative to understand that child support obligations are binding for all parents, both those in formal marriages and common law partnerships. It’s important to stay informed about your legal responsibilities regarding child support. This knowledge empowers you to navigate this aspect of family law with clarity. 

Can a parent refuse access if child support is not being paid?

No, access and child support are not interlinked. It’s crucial to emphasize the separation of these issues and address them individually through the appropriate legal channels, such as family court or mediation, if necessary. This ensures that both parties’ rights are accounted for and upheld in accordance with the law.   

How do I collect child support?

Child support can be paid directly between parents or through the Family Responsibility Office, acting as an intermediary. Exploring the most suitable payment method for your situation with the guidance of a family law professional can help ensure timely and consistent support. 

Am I entitled to spousal support?

One’s entitlement to spousal support and the amount paid is based on various factors, including the length of cohabitation/marriage, roles played by each party, and the parties’ respective incomes. Seeking legal advice can help you understand your rights and responsibilities regarding spousal support. 

What happens to spousal support once the individual remarries?

The remarriage of either spouse does not inherently terminate spousal support but usually invites a review of the spousal support terms. The impact hinges on the specific provisions outlined in the separation agreement or court order. Consulting a legal professional is instrumental in understanding the effects of remarriage on spousal support obligations.  

For how long is either spouse obligated to pay spousal support?

The length of spousal support is determined by various factors, including the age of the parties, the length of the relationship, and if there are children involved. Consulting with a family law professional can help you understand the specific duration of spousal support in your situation. 

Is a violation of Separation Agreement held up in the court of law?

Separation Agreements are usually enforceable in a court of law. However, it’s important to consult with a family law professional to ensure the Agreement meets legal requirements and to understand the options available in case of a violation.

How does the cost and time of mediation compare to the traditional court process?

Mediation is generally a faster resolution process than court, and the cost may be shared between the parties, making it a potentially more cost-effective option. However, the specific cost and timeframes can vary depending on the complexity of the case. 

For personalized advice and guidance on your specific situation in Clarence-Rockland and throughout Ottawa, contact Simard & Associates to speak to one of our experienced Family Law lawyers today. They will help you navigate your rights and obligations and design strategies that best address your unique circumstances.

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