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Oshawa Family Law Blog

Ontario family law: What about the house when unmarrieds split?

Some couples who are living in a common law union are unaware of what exactly would happen if they separated. Under the Ontario Family Law Act common law spouses aren't privy to the same rules as their married counterparts are. For instance, legislation in the province doesn't exist when it comes to property sharing for unmarried couples who live together and who separate. 

In Ontario, an unmarried couple must have been living together for three or more years to be considered in a common law union under provincial law. The rules that govern domestic relationships can be complex, especially when it comes to the sharing of property for which there are no definitive rules. Much hinges on a couple's personal situation.

Family law: When one partner declares bankruptcy

These are difficult economic times for many people. Some Ontario residents have problems making ends meet and when debt becomes overwhelming, the most sensible road to take involves bankruptcy. Family law stipulates that when one partner declares bankruptcy, the other is on the hook if some of those debts are shared.  If signatures appear on some of those debts -- like a credit card in both names -- both partners are responsible.

It is shocking for some people, but the reality is if one partner declares bankruptcy and shares some of the debt, the other may have to pay off the amount owing. This is true whether the couple is married, living in a common law union, divorced or separated. If those joint debts can't be paid, a person's credit rating will be affected even if it is not the one who is declaring bankruptcy. If the marital home is only in the name of the person who is not filing for bankruptcy, it will not affect the homeownership; however, if the home is co-owned, it may have to be sold to pay creditors or there is the option of buying out the other partner.

Ontario family law: When one parent keep kids from another

There may be a definite reason a couple divorces. There may be a myriad of reasons, actually, so when there are many negative emotions in the crossfire, children can be unwitting targets of their parents' consternation toward each other. Family law in Ontario makes it clear that when one parent won't allow the other to see his or her child, there are consequences, especially if a court order is being obstructed. 

Parents who are kept from seeing their children should take well-documented notes regarding visits that were missed -- notes that are detailed including exacts dates and times and any efforts to make up missed visits. If the parent has tried to talk to his or her former spouse about why he or she is being kept from seeing the children and has not received a rational answer, the estranged parent could try to find answers from friends of relatives. If that fails, the individual could seek legal advice.

Divorce in Ontario: What singles want family, friends to know

It's no great surprise that a marital breakdown changes the family dynamic. Divorce affects everyday life, not only of the couple, but of any children that were born to them. Divorced and single parents in Ontario go through a lot and there are times when these parents believe they always have to be strong and put on brave faces in front of their family members and friends. Many of these individuals would love their families and friends to understand a few of the things with which they must contend on a daily basis; things that others may not realize and which could make it easier for them.

First, single moms and dads don't have as much disposable income -- if any -- as their married counterparts. It's often much easier in a household with two incomes. When that's no longer the case, divorced individuals often feel financially strapped. So, when they say no to shopping sprees or nights out at the movies, they don't want people to take it personally. They also want people to know that single parenting is tough without another adult team member in the household to help.

Gender reassignment on minor child a serious family law issue

Gender reassignment is a very real and concerning issue in today's society. Some people in Ontario and worldwide are born into the body of one gender, while emotionally and mentally identifying with the other gender. When this happens to a young person who has expressed a desire to change genders, family law rules can become cloudy, and confusing. Who gets to decide and what if one or both parents don't agree? It's a complex situation.

There is a case in the country now that raises these questions. A child was born into the body of a female, but identifies as male, and the child's mother, along with a gender reassignment clinic and the child -- who is 14 -- wish to start testosterone treatments. The child's father, on the other hand, thinks everything is moving too quickly. In this case, where is the fine line between parental rights and the age of the child to make such serious medical decisions? The law will always favour what is in the best interests of the child, but who decides that?

Divorce of Dragon's Den celebrity raises family law issues

When entrepreneur Robert Herjavec and his wife split, it brought up a number of family law issues. Herjavec is best known for his appearances on television shows "Dragon's Den" and "Shark Tank." The divorce between the Ontario millionaire and his wife of 24 years was difficult with much at stake. By the time the trial over what would happen to his millions of dollars had rolled around, Herjavec had already remarried. 

The family law trial happened four years after the couple had separated and experts had to be called in to ascertain Herjavec's financial worth. The bottom line is that the judge in the case ruled that the findings of these experts actually benefited Herjavec. He hired them to do the job and so the judge did not accept those opinions. 

The reasoning behind marriage agreements in Ontario

More people are getting married later in life. That means when they do eventually tie the knot, they may already have a nice, little nest egg of their own. So, to safeguard their assets, some Ontario couples choose to have marriage agreements in place, and in the 21st century, this in not uncommon.

Prenuptial or postnuptial agreements aren't just for the wealthy, either. They have become a mainstream part of marriage in terms of the middle class as well. They also apply to same-sex couples who are married and who have the same rights under the law in Ontario and the rest of the country. Having a marital agreement does not mean a couple believes that their marriage will ultimately end, but as the old adage says, it's better to be safe than sorry.

Family law: New tool will enable courts to help women in danger

Victims of domestic violence may get some relief, thanks to a new project on the horizon. Many women who decide to separate from their partners may find themselves in dire straits and potentially dangerous situations. As much as Ontario family law rules try to protect victims of domestic violence, added programs and education is always needed. Giving family law professionals the tools to help these victims is a step in the right direction.

A Toronto clinic for women facing violence is working on a new risk assessment tool that would allow family court staff to determine how much danger women are in to be able to help them quickly. The project has received funding from the Law Foundation of Ontario. The gist is to accommodate law professionals with standardized questionnaires, which would allow them to make assessments of individual situations and then provide resources to help victimized women and their children.

Family law: What to do when spousal support isn't being paid

When a former spouse agrees to pay spousal support and then reneges, it can be frustrating and may create financial hardship. But family law rules in Ontario dictate that there are things that can be done to try to enforce an order, but only under certain conditions. It can be rather tricky if either party has moved out of the area in which the order was granted.

The payee is pretty much in a no-win situation if the area to which the payor moves doesn't enforce the court order issued in another area. In hindsight, a divorce settlement should make mention of such a possibility and perhaps the payee may even agree to a one-time sum. By getting the money up front, there will be no worries about the payor not making good on his or her court-ordered spousal support payments.

Ontario family law: Common law couples and sharing of pensions

People work hard to establish a solid pension. In the event of divorce, however, family law in Ontario has certain rules when it comes to the sharing of those pension funds. When it comes to federal pension plan funds, much depends on whether the couple was married or in a common law union. Common law couples can apply to have Canada Pension Plan (CPP) funds divided as long as the couple had been living together for at least a year.

Married couples actually have the right to share pensions, unlike their common law counterparts. In a common law relationship, the holder of the pension fund usually gets to keep those funds in the event of separation. If there is a cohabitation agreement in existence, that may not hold true. If such an agreement makes mention of pension funds or if one partner has a court order or if the matter has gone through arbitration with the decision that pension funds should be shared, then by law, they must be.

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