Family Law

Family-LawMy approach to family law is to efficiently mediate and negotiate a reasonable, fair, and, as much as possible, amicable resolution of all issues arising out of a relationship/marriage, and/or separation.

Going through a separation is a difficult process and I am sensitive and respectful to separated spouses’ emotions and struggles.

I believe in educating my clients about their legal rights and obligations and the process they need to go through until their separation issues are resolved.

I will protect my clients’ legal interests to the extent permissible by law, but I will not create false hopes if the case is not likely going to be resolved in favour of my client. This approach saves disappointments and unnecessary legal costs.

I will not hesitate to passionately pursue a case in court, if an amicable, out-of-court resolution is not possible or realistic.

I am aware of how difficult it is for many families to afford a lawyer. To this end, I offer detailed legal advice from the moment I first meet my client. During the initial consultation I listen carefully to my clients’ problems, present them with my initial legal advice, legal options available, strengths and risks of the case, including cost involved.

Family law practice involves a broad spectrum of issues. I will assist you in the following:

  1. Cohabitation, prenuptial/marriage contracts.

    There are circumstances in which you may wish to consider entering into such an agreement at the beginning of, or during your new relationship. To name a few examples:

    • you accumulated assets prior to a relationship, such as a house, perhaps inherited from your parents or purchased in your sole name before the relationship, and such assets may become your common residence/matrimonial home during the relationship/marriage and ultimately subject to division with your spouse, in case of separation;
    • you accumulated investments before your relationship, such as RRSPs, shares, mutual funds, GICs, profit sharing, interest/partnership in a business, etc., and you wish to exclude them from sharing with your spouse, in case of separation;
    • you were previously married or ended a common-law relationship and need to protect your assets, already divided under a separation agreement or a court order;
    • your parents may wish to protect a family business in which you have an interest, and exclude that interest from sharing with your spouse, in case of separation;
    • you do not want to be responsible for your spouse’s debts, due to a gambling problem or other reasons for excessive spending, and you wish to save your marriage while keeping property and incomes separate;
    • you want keep your assets and incomes separate for other reasons;
    • you do not want to be responsible for support of your spouse in case of separation;

    If you would like to enter into a cohabitation or prenuptial/marriage contract due to one of the above or other circumstances, I will negotiate the terms of such contract with your spouse and/or his/her legal counsel. Once signed, such agreement will set out your own regime of sharing relationship/matrimonial assets and effectively exclude from sharing assets brought to the relationship/marriage. If your relationship should fail, all issues that arise on separation, such as division of property, spousal support etc. will be dealt with in accordance with your agreement that was negotiated and signed at the commencement or during the relationship. Such agreement will modify and exclude application of some of the rules of the Family Law Act or the Divorce Act.

  2. Separation agreements. If you recently separated from your spouse/partner, you ask yourself, “What’s next? What should I do? How should I educate myself about my legal rights and obligations? Where should I get answers and help? How do I find a lawyer that will be a good fit for me?”

    Getting legal advice at the early stage of your separation is crucial, as all of your questions and anxieties may be addressed by a lawyer.

    You may have to deal with a variety of issues on separation such as custody, access, child support, the children’s educational expenses, spousal support, division of assets, restraining order, freezing of assets, appraisal/evaluation of the property which may include pensions, real estates or a family business, to name some. It is crucial that you find out, as soon as possible after separation, how these issues should be approached and resolved.

  3. Family Court proceedings. Amicable resolution of separation issues is not always possible, especially in the case of abusive relationships. There may be cases when there is a restraining order in place, or negotiations will be delayed due to lack of cooperation, or one of the spouses may not feel comfortable to negotiate a separation agreement and be in direct contact with a spouse. During an initial appointment, I will assess, if your case would benefit from the negotiation of a separation agreement, or if it is better and more efficient to start a court application and deal with your separation issues in court with the assistance of a judge. If you decide to go to court I will draft the documents, attend to all procedural steps and court attendances until resolution of all issues by minutes of settlement, if you settle, or, until a court order is obtained as the result of trial, if necessary.

  4. FACS proceedings. If you are involved with Family and Children Services (Children’s Aid Society), either on a voluntary basis or FACS started a court proceeding against you; if your child has been removed from your care and placed in foster care or with a family member; if FACS alleges that a child is in need of protection and requests a supervision order you need to immediately contact a lawyer and obtain legal advice and representation in court and in communication with the Society. I can help you with reviewing the voluntary agreements, court documents, preparation of Answer/Plan of Care, attending court with you and I will communicate with FACS lawyers on your behalf. I will represent you until FACS terminates their involvement.

  5. Private adoptions. If you consider adopting a child as a step-parent or other family member, I will prepare a court application for you and I can help you in private adoption proceedings until an adoption order is obtained.

Even before seeking legal advice, you may find information and get immediate help through governmental agencies and community services.

You may find information regarding:

  • immediate financial help; such as social assistance;
  • finding living accommodations, in case of domestic violence;
  • various counseling services available to couples and their children after separation;
  • information about child support;
  • information about services available to supervise parental access to children;
  • services available through Family and Children Services/Children’s Aid Society, if children are in need of protection;
  • application for a legal aid certificate, if you cannot afford a lawyer;
  • if paternity is in issue, how to arrange for a paternity test;
  • how to apply for criminal records check;
  • how to arrange for appraisal of real estate;
  • what are Parental Coordinators and how they can help you;
  • what are custody assessors and how you can utilize them.

Below you may find some useful information through on-line links that may educate and give you some comfort in the early stages of your separation.