Situations that involve Family Law can be confusing and difficult to navigate at times. Having a lawyer on your side that can help explain your rights and obligations as well as that can review all documents before you sign, is always highly recommended.

Here are a few key scenarios that you should have your lawyer involved in:

It is becoming more common for couples in a committed relationship to have a marriage contract or a cohabitation agreement drawn up to outline expectations of each individual during the relationship as well as after separation, and document such matters as property that was brought be each person into the relationship and its value. There can be clauses that dictate what happens if the marriage or common law relationship ends, including how property will be divided, who will provide support and the amount of the support. You can even outline items regarding children (even if they are not born yet) including religious affiliations and plans for their education, one thing you cannot pre-plan is, the custody of the children.

A marriage contract or a cohabitation agreement can be completed at any time during the relationship as long as both parties agree and sign the document in the presence of a witness that also signs the document.

In some instances, common law couples do not have the same rights as married couples, but when it comes to signing a marriage contract or a cohabitation agreement, the implications can be equally severe if you do not know your rights or fully understand the document. Prior to signing either of these documents have your own attorney, not a shared attorney review the documents and explain them to you to avoid any potential surprises in the future.

Separations and divorces can become very costly when the courts get involved. Your lawyer can help you understand your rights and obligations when it comes to:

The Matrimonial Home

If married, both individuals have rights related to the family home, even if one person owned the home prior to the marriage. If the matter is brought before a judge, the judge has the power to grant ownership or possession of the home to one individual over the other. In a common law relationship, these rights are not the same. If the home belonged to one individual prior to getting together, they will continue to have the rights to the home. They may be required to effectively compensate the non-owning spouse for contributions made over time to the joint venture home.

Caring For And Financially Supporting Children

Your children have the right of access to both parents and both parents have the obligation to financially support their children. When both parents are living together with their children, they share the responsibility of caring for their children and making daily decisions together on their children’s behalf, no matter if they are married or not. When parents separate, one parent may take care of the children the majority of the time and will be responsible for the daily expenses, or both parents may equally share time and expenses of the children. The parent that doesn’t have the children in his or her care for the majority of the time, will more than likely need to pay the other parent monthly to help cover the costs of taking care of the children. A lawyer can work with you to help build a parenting plan that will outline who cares for the children, when and how much time is spent with the children by each parent and who makes major decisions. They can also help calculate any support payments utilizing the Child Support Guidelines. In cases of a high conflict separation, seeking the help of an experienced lawyer is strongly recommended.

Spousal Support

In Ontario, the law sees a spousal relationship as a financial partnership. When things breakdown, the partner with the better financial standing may need to support the other individual. Several aspects are considered when calculating the value and the time frame of the support payments including the age of both persons at time of separation, the length of the relationship, the ability for the receiving spouse to become self-sufficient, the ability for the paying spouse to make payments, and what the roles of the spouses were during the relationship. A lawyer will help you determine if you are eligible for support, or obligated to pay spousal support. They can assist in calculating the amount you are eligible to receive or are obligated to pay. If both parties agree on the amount and duration of the payments it can be added to the separation agreement or form part of a court order. If they are unable to agree the matter may need to be dealt with in court.

Spousal support agreements may be amended if either party has a significant change in their financial situation, this may include a legitimate lost of work, a pay raise, a new job with different pay, or entering a committed relationship with a new partner. In these cases, you should consult with your lawyer to see if you are eligible to receive additional funds, or cut back on your payments, depending on the situation.

An experienced family law lawyer will ensure your best interests are represented and that you have a full understanding of the process every step of the way. You are not legally enquired to have a lawyer to complete a separation agreement or even a divorce, but having one on your side will ensure you have a fair resolution and is strongly recommended. Remember that song deals are very hard to reverse so make sure to have a lawyer assist you to make the right one.

We are here to help you. Contact AGSLAW and one of our experienced lawyers will be pleased to provide you with a consultation.

The material provided in this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice and should not be relied upon or treated as legal advice.