Family Law

Keeping your household and family happy, healthy, and safe is a lifelong task and presents daily challenges and rewards for your efforts. If you are encountering hardship along the way, know that seeking legal advice can more effectively protect your investments, loved ones, and yourself.

A suitable lawyer can handle cases that require expertise in different areas, whether involving child welfare, separation and divorce, or otherwise. On the other hand, if you and your spouse have chosen different paths and your relationship is ending, you likely have several questions or concerns. The road through separation and divorce is daunting, and a lawyer dedicated to finding solutions can help. Every family is unique, and therefore, you need a balance of experience and compassion for the best-quality family law services.

This is where Mann Lawyers comes in. Our legal team has well over 100 years of combined experience. We know family law well, having helped many clients over the decades. Our years of practice in and out of court give us the perspective to help you analyze your options and make decisions from an informed perspective. If you are entering a new relationship and have questions about your rights and responsibilities or wish for help in drafting a cohabitation agreement or marriage contract to deal with those rights, we can help you.

Personalized, Well-Informed Legal Services

Mann Lawyers approaches every single case differently, which allows us to focus on facts and details that could otherwise go overlooked and change your outcome. We are a law firm that specializes in personalized, well-informed family law services custom-tailored to your needs. Our lawyers are committed to guiding family members to creative solutions by providing practical and individual legal advice. We can assist you in and out of court with ease.

We strive to be quick and concise without skipping elements that could help you achieve a favourable outcome. Our goal is to satisfy clients with fact-focused, thoughtful legal counsel that is based on their situation specifically. We also know how such processes can be emotionally taxing, which is why we incorporate a friendly and understanding approach when working with you. We want for you and your family to feel welcome and comfortable when consulting with us.

You can be assured of precise attention paid to even the smallest detail — nothing is insignificant to us when gathering compelling evidence or documentation supporting your side of the story. Our team has not only the depth and profound experience to protect you and your interests in court but also the skills to drive towards an amicable settlement out of court.

We can conduct negotiations with the intent of leading everyone towards an optimal resolution with minimal expense, delay, and acrimony. We offer arbitration and mediation services and lawyers who practice Collaborative Family Law.

We also have experience in fertility and surrogacy law and can assist parents and surrogates by drafting and providing independent legal advice on surrogacy agreements.

To learn more about our Family Law service area and some of the legal issues as they may arise, please visit our blog.

General information for separating spouses

When two people cohabit in a committed relationship, either pursuant to their co-parenting of a child, or for a significant length of time (3 years or more), there arises a set of rights and obligations that together make up what is called “Family Law”.

Those rights and obligations are defined by the law, and address a set of important issues relating to your property, financial and cash-flow matters, and if applicable, the parenting of your children.

This article is intended to provide you with an overview of some of the terms and concepts surrounding Family Law, and give you some links to more information. It describes the important issues dealt with in Family Law, and gives details about what we mean when we talk about the law, or about the court, or about negotiation. We hope to also provide a bit of perspective on what other needs are common for separating spouses.

All of this can make a difference to how you experience your separation or divorce.

IMPORTANT ISSUES IN FAMILY LAW

Family law issues fall into five categories. They are:

PARENTING

Also called “Custody and Access”, is focused on two main questions: “How will decisions relating to the child be made?”, and “Where will the child be spending their time – minute to minute and day to day?”

CHILD SUPPORT

The answer to the Parenting questions above will usually result in obligations for some child support to flow from one parent to the other. This issue is primarily governed by the Child Support Guidelines.

SPOUSAL SUPPORT

After cohabiting as spouses for three years or more, married or unmarried spouses in Ontario are entitled to advance a legal claim for support from the other spouse.

The number of factors considered by the courts, and the wide range of possible outcomes make this, in our opinion, one of the hardest issues to understand.

PROPERTY DIVISION

Property Division is the process of dividing the assets and debts you acquired during your time together. There is a statutory division scheme for married persons, which is complicated enough, but there is no mechanism for unmarried folks.

The question of “who gets what?” in that situation must be determined by reference to “legal title” (ie. who legally owns the property, which is often the person who paid for the asset) and a set of complicated common law concepts known as constructive trusts (where a legal owner can be deemed to actually hold part of an asset in trust for another).

DIVORCE

Only relevant to married spouses, this issue is the one issue the parties cannot settle via a written agreement. This requires a court order. How, when and upon what grounds a divorce order is obtainable from the court is a question that varies from case to case.

THE LAW

The law exists in two ways: Statutory law and Common Law. Statutes are laws and regulations passed by Parliament and Legislatures. These are rules with broad guidance on their application.

Common Law is the collected written decisions of courts wherein each judge/court has applied Statutory Law (and reason and interpretation and analysis) to the particular people and circumstances before it.

To determine the answer to any legal issue, a lawyer must know both the statutory law that applies, and be able to determine what common law cases are relevant to the set of circumstances of the matter at hand.

In addition to the general difficulty of knowing what the law is, family law presents a special challenge. Unlike most areas of the law, family law has recently had the habit of dramatically changing in a very short period of time.

Major shifts in what society expects with respect to traditional gender roles, family responsibilities and the complexities of our lives all impact on family law. In fact one could say that family law in the space of twenty years (a blink of an eye in “legal time”) has undergone such dramatic changes as to be barely recognizable.

The family law statutes applicable to most Ontario situations are as follows:

The Common Law applicable to Ontario residents is generally Ontario-based, but there is nothing stopping a judge in an Ontario case from citing some relevant legal precedent from some court in Alberta, or British Columbia or Nova Scotia. The Common Law is enormously vast, and the thousands of relevant cases are not stored in one place. To get a sense of the stunning complexity of it all, you can view a small fraction of the common law at this free site: www.canlii.org.

THE COURTS

We are lawyers. They are the Court. We are their officers – duty bound to present our clients’ facts and argue the law with honesty, integrity and zeal. Without them, we are just verbose posers in funny robes. Without us, they are seriously hamstrung in their duty to do justice to the citizens of Ontario before them in accordance with the law.

More information is available on the website for the Ontario Courts.

NEGOTIATION

Of the cases that go to court, something between 3% and 5% actually get all the way to be heard at a trial. Therefore, 95% to 97% of cases settle before trial, and they only settle because the parties have reached a negotiated agreement.

Negotiation is a skill. We have that skill and a great deal of experience. We can do it while the litigation is on-going, but our strong preference is to negotiate with your spouse and their lawyer (although we will bargain with the rare hard-headed spouse who refuses to get their own lawyer). We can also support you if you and your spouse are conducting a mediation. We also provide the mediation services, or we can represent you through a special structured negotiation called Collaborative Family Law.

OTHER NEEDS

We can connect you to support that will make this time easier. We have a number of professionals with whom we have built a trust relationship, that we know deliver the kind of dignified service and attention to detail that we ourselves expect. We assess each client individually, and provide them with choices and options customized to them.

As stated, we can access and connect you with a range of locally-provided services in support of your individual needs.

Whether it’s counselling, focused health care, real estate advice and guidance, financial assistance, or other help that you require, we can connect you to our trusted colleagues in the field.

If we can help you at this time of legal need, please give us a call at (613) 722-1500 or email us at family@mannlawyers.com.

Our Family Law Lawyers

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