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Ottawa Mediation Law Blog

Mediation useful for Ontario couples seeking amicable separation

Couples who have decided to part ways can find themselves, individually and together, in unfamiliar territory. Even if they are in agreement about making the process as amicable as possible, there may be concerns or issues that need to be resolved before they can go forward. They could consider mediation as a light guiding them through terrain, which, despite their best intentions, can cause stress and strain.

Most family law practitioners are experienced in mediation as a means of providing a safe and secure working forum in which couples can cooperate towards wholesome and rewarding resolutions. A mediator takes a neutral stance, and he or she facilitates discussions which respect the perspectives and needs of both parties. Whether together for decades or for a few years, Ontario couples who wish to work things out reasonably and with dignity may benefit from mediation.

Separation and divorce may follow discovery of adultery

Applying for divorce in Ontario requires at least one of three elements stipulated by Canadian law. The spouses must be living separately for a year or more, there is a history of physical or mental abuse or one spouse has committed adultery. Adulterous affairs often lead to separation and divorce, but the law is clear about what counts as adultery and what does not.

For example, the Divorce Act states that the affair must include physical contact with someone other than a spouse. In other words, internet relationships, phone sex and emotional affairs may not form the foundation of a divorce. Instead, spouses in such situations may be encouraged to work toward a resolution to their problems. However, if there is a physical relationship, it need only occur once for the other spouse to have grounds to file for divorce.

Proper groundwork can ease the process of separation and divorce

There is no doubt that it is tough to face the facts when a marriage comes to an end. Even if an Ontario couple can keep their separation and divorce amicable, there will be challenges -- both financial and emotional. Using alternative dispute resolution such as mediation may further ease the process, but certain steps in preparation might help. It will help to have a basic knowledge of the family assets, income, expenses and debts before filing for divorce.

An often forgotten task during this difficult time is updating estate plans -- including the will. t may also be necessary to refinance joint assets, open separate bank accounts and more. Setting aside an emergency fund may also prove helpful when continued access to funds may be jeopardised. If there is any reason to suspect the other spouse may get rid of valuables, it might be wise to arrange safe storage.

Is mediation the reason behind some divorce selfies?

Yes, the title really does say, "divorce selfies." It's a relatively recent phenomenon: newly divorced couples in Ontario and abroad are taking and posting selfies right after signing the papers. Some of the pictures are going viral, and the trend has caught the attention of the media. So, why are some people smiling through their divorce, while other spouses can barely stand to look at each other? Maybe the social media couples took advantage of mediation, or another non-confrontational divorce option.

Nobody wants to feel anger, confusion or stress, but they're difficult to avoid during a divorce. It may be possible to minimize those feelings, however, by avoiding litigation and working in a more collaborative manner. This is a healthy approach to divorce not just for men and women, but also for their children, as a study seems to indicate.

Dividing property during divorce doesn't always have to get ugly

Certain environments bring out the competitive nature in some people. It could be a hockey game at the rink or a video game between friends. It's not hard to see how a courtroom divorce could trigger that same response.

Litigation seldom brings out the best in people and what could be a simple process may become hotly contested, stressful and time-consuming. The division of property during a divorce, in particular, can turn into a bitter legal fight -- but it doesn't have to.  

Some boomers hope to avoid separation and divorce by not marrying

Baby boomers have always been trendsetters in Ontario, whether in fashion, the arts or fiscal habits. More recently, men and women of this generation are changing the way they think and feel about marriage. Perhaps in a bid to avoid the struggles associated with separation and divorce, many are avoiding marriage altogether, opting instead to live with their partners.

According to research from the Pew Research Center in the United States, more baby boomers are choosing cohabitation over marriage than ever before. In 2016, four million men and women aged 50 and up were living with their significant other, but were not married. In 2007, looking at the same demographic, there were just 2.3 million people cohabiting. Similar trends are found in Canada: the 2011 census revealed that almost 11 percent of the 50 to 59 age group lived together long term, up from 9.1 percent in 2006.

Don't you dare! That's my mother's inheritance!

Thumbnail image for pic.jpgWhen two people married to each other separate in Ontario, they must divide their family property in the manner provided for in the applicable legislation (unless they agree otherwise). While most people seem to be aware that the value of gifts or inheritances that one receives from a third party during his/her marriage is excluded from that division, many people are unaware that they may loose that exclusion unless they deal with their gifts and inheritances in a certain manner.

Tricked into parenthood?

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A handful of clients have come into my office with statements such as: "she told me she was on the pill", "she told me she could not get pregnant", "I clearly told her I did not want children", and the classic "she told me that if she ever got pregnant, she would take care of the child on her own". The follow-up question is often "do I still have to pay child support?". The answer is incontestably, irrevocably, categorically: YES. In Canadian Family Law, the child will never be made to suffer financially because of the fault of one of his/her parents.

How does a surrogacy agreement work?

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Almost one in six couples in Canada will have infertility issues when trying to start a family. Fertility law is an emerging branch of family law. Family lawyers can assist clients with fertility law by drafting Sperm Donor Contracts and Surrogacy Agreements. In a Sperm Donor Contract a male agrees to provide another couple with semen to allow them to conceive a child. In a Surrogacy Agreement, a female agrees to bear and give birth to another couple's child (usually conceived "in vitro"). For obvious reasons, surrogacy agreements can have far more implications for the "donor".

L'effet des relations entre avocats lors d'une séparation

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Les avocats devraient-ils être courtois entre eux ou est-ce que cela diminue la qualité de la représentation offerte à leurs clients?

Généralement, lorsque les gens pensent aux avocats, ils associent leur rôle avec celui que les acteurs peignent dans les téléséries américaines telles que Suits et The Good Wife. Ils sont souvent en conflits, agressifs et zélés, parfois même arrogants. Donc, ce n'est pas surprenant que les gens ont comme postulat que l'agressivité chez un avocat est synonyme de compétence et de réussite. Or, l'expérience au sein d'une pratique en droit familial démontre clairement que c'est loin d'être vrai.

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