what we do
In Canada, a divorce is available to same-sex and heterosexual couples on a no-fault basis. You or your spouse will be eligible for a divorce after living separately for one year. The Divorce Act promotes the best interests of the children of the marriage by ensuring that children will be affected as little as possible by the breakdown of their parents’ relationship. The Act also structures the payment of support to children and spouses, and allows for the division of family property. We can help you understand how the divorce will affect your estate rights, and your ability to inherit property from your spouse.
The calculation of child support pursuant to the Child Support Guidelines is fairly mechanical; however, it can be difficult to calculate the support payable from a parent who is self-employed or unemployed. Parents may also disagree about a child’s Section 7 or extraordinary expenses, and whether the expense is necessary and reasonable. Special and extraordinary expenses include post-secondary education expenses even where a child is over the age of majority. Children now remain dependent on their parents for longer periods due to the difficulty in securing full-time employment.
Spousal support is available to married and common law spouses here in Ontario. Your entitlement to support will depend upon a number of factors, including the length of your relationship, the role you played during the relationship and your respective means and needs. Spousal support is designed to recognize the different contributions made by each spouse during the relationship, and to ensure that both spouses can achieve self-sufficiency in the future.
Ontario’s Family Law Act sets out rules for property division for separating spouses in the province. “Spouse” is narrowly defined in the Act and only married spouses are entitled to statutory property division. The law applies differently to unmarried couples, who may advance “constructive and resulting trust” claims to share property held in the name of the other spouse. For most couples the family home is the most valuable asset.
Access for Grandparents
Children often suffer following the breakdown of their parents’ relationship, and sometimes equally from losing contact with a grandparent. Children will benefit from being able to see their grandparents regularly and these relationships deserve protection. If you are a grandparent you may be entitled to request access to your grandchildren regardless of the status of an ongoing custody proceeding between the child’s parents.
Whether married or living common law, you may wish to enter into a separation agreement when you start living separate and apart. It is important to fully understand your rights and obligations in the context of a legal separation. An agreement may include custody and residential schedules for children, support obligations, and the division of property. A valid and binding separation agreement will typically require you to exchange financial disclosure and obtain independent legal advice. Your separation agreement is valid once it is signed, and can be filed with the court so as to become enforceable.
If you and your partner are living together or intend to live together, you may wish to enter into a cohabitation agreement. A cohabitation agreement enables you to protect your interests upon entering a new relationship, particularly relating to property, business interests, and spousal support. A cohabitation agreement enables both spouses to contemplate what is fair, prior to assuming new responsibilities, and will govern the division of property and support upon the breakdown of the relationship. If you should get married down the road, a cohabitation agreement would become a marriage contract pursuant to the Family Law Act. If you don’t plan to get married you may wish to review your estate obligations since unmarried spouses do not automatically inherit from each other in the event of death.
If the Children’s Aid Society commences protection proceedings with respect to your children or grandchildren you will need an experienced lawyer to represent you before the Ontario Court of Justice. A child in need of protection, pursuant to the Child and Family Services Act, is a child who has suffered physical harm, the risk of harm, or who has been neglected by the person ordinarily responsible for caring for them.
Trials and Appeals
Sometimes it’s not possible to resolve all issues in a family law dispute and you will need a judge to make a final decision. You want an experienced family law lawyer who understands the rules of evidence and who can challenge the evidence with a thorough cross-examination. Sometimes a judge can err by either misunderstanding the law or the evidence. If you want to appeal a court’s decision you need to act quickly and to retain a skilled appellate lawyer.
Whether or not you have property or children it’s crucial to have a legal will and power of attorney for property and personal care. If you don’t have a will, the government will administer your estate after your death. This can result in additional stress and expense for your family members. We offer you effective and strategic advice in preparing your will. We can help to reduce the tax consequences for your beneficiaries, limit complications in the context of a separation and divorce, and provide financial support for your dependents.
Probating a Will
When a loved one or a family member passes away their property must be accounted for and distributed in accordance with the terms of their will. Where someone dies without a will, the estate will be distributed under the statutory rules of intestacy which determines who is entitled to what. We can help explain this process and ensure that all property is distributed fairly and efficiently in accordance with the law and the instructions of your loved one.
We can help advise executors, administrators and estate trustees about their fiduciary obligations and the legislation that governs their actions. If a dispute arises following a death we will try to resolve the issue and restrict the need for litigation. If the matter goes to court we can represent you with every aspect of the litigation, including challenging and defending wills, the interpretation of wills and trusts, and dependent claims under the Succession Law Reform Act.
Residential Properties and Condominiums
If you are planning to buy, sell or refinance a commercial or a residential property, you will need a real estate lawyer to ensure that the deal is closed successfully. Buying a home is often the most significant purchase you will make in your lifetime. We can help first-time buyers by fully explaining the process and ensuring that it is not unnecessarily stressful for you.
We offer all commercial real estate services, including acquisition and disposition, leasing and financing commercial properties and condominiums. We provide legal services in connection with mortgages and other forms of secured financing. We can give you solid legal advice on real estate law, sales and purchase contracts, leasing, investment properties, title review and legal opinions and title insurance.
We provide complete corporate business services, including incorporations and complete organization, setting up a minute book, amalgamations, winding-up and dissolution. We can draft a shareholder’s agreement or a partnership agreement on your behalf to protect your interests. We can represent you with regard to buying and selling a business. We can also help to plan for and execute the acquisition or disposition of shares or assets of a private business.