The NEW Divorce Act changes….

Note: the federal Divorce Act only applies to married people. Changes to the provincial Family Law Act are forthcoming.   The changes to the Divorce Act are finally here – like everything recently, the implementation was delayed a year due to the pandemic. As of March 1, 2021, the changes are now in force. Newly separating/divorcing people now have a legal duty to use dispute resolution services other than courts – negotiating, mediation, collaborative, parenting coordination and also mediation-arbitration or arbitration. Lawyers also have a legal duty to encourage FDR options to clients. The legal duty expends to the ‘extent that it is appropriate’ to do so. What that means depends on the circumstances and who you ask. Family dispute resolution professionals are highly trained and are required to assess every situation for appropriateness for FDR. There are very few cases where FDR outside of court is not the best option. The new requirements do not mean you are on your own and will not have...
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Virtual Meetings are Here to Stay!

In 2020, we experienced significant changes in our lives: how we live, how we work and how we educate. Although Zoom has been around for year, it is only recently that is has become a common way to do business. We all needed to ‘learn’ how to meet virtually. Here are some helpful suggestions for meeting online: Arrival – Always arrive to the meeting at least 5-10 minutes before the meeting start time to test your audio and video. Meetings should start at the designated meeting time. Attire – Wear professional clothing as you would for any in-person meeting or court appearance. Although videoconferencing may seem informal, we should always adhere to the usual formalities as we would if we were in person unless otherwise permitted by the host. Please do not wear hats or sunglasses unless for medical reasons. Audio – If possible, use either a headset, earphones or a microphone rather than your computer or device audio. This will improve both the...
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Why Mediation…

The ending of a spousal relationship is a very hard time for everyone involved. It is overwhelming when you consider the emotional, family and financial implications of severing a spousal relationship. Emotions often run high. People who were once together often have difficulty even speaking to each other. Many are trying to figure out where to turn. Some will choose a costly fight through lawyers and litigation leaving families financially and emotionally bankrupt.  Consider mediation!  ...
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Do and Do Not!

At times we can all get lost in our old habits and can't seem to pull ourselves through. Parents, especially, often feel like they are failing or could do better. Once in a while you hear something from someone or hear a line on TV or the radio that resonates with you and triggers you to start doing something or stop doing something. This is by no means a complete list but here are some thoughts… The Don'ts Don't use your child as your confident, therapist or fellow victim. They don't want to know! Don't try to cause problems in your child's relationship with the other parent - you are hurting your child. Don't bad mouth the other parent, their new partner or choices for their new life. Don't purchase your children's allegiance, acceptance, understanding or forgiveness. Don't compete with the other parent. Don't use your child to communicate with the other parent - be an adult and role model and do it...
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Negotiating

The key to a successful negotiation is preparation. When you are prepared there is an increased expectation that you get the best possible outcome for yourself. This doesn't mean you will get everything you want. It does mean you will be fully prepared to make good decisions about what you will or will not agree with. Whether you are negotiating directly (mediation, parenting co-ordination, self represent in court) or through another party (lawyers) there are considerations that need to be thought through. Prepare before you start… Make sure you are ready to face the other party at the table. If you don't think you can't, there may be benefit to working with a lawyer to help you in mediation or lawyer to lawyer negotiation Know your interests and what priority they have. It is more than simply knowing what you want. You need to consider how important certain interests are to you and whether you would consider giving that up or giving...
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Pensions

Pensions are often a very sensitive subject in property equalization discussions. Many clients are upset that they have to include an asset that they have worked so hard for. Some people don't realize their pension is matrimonial property and included in equalization of assets. However that is not the case. Pensions are considered matrimonial property and included as an asset for the purpose of calculating Net Family Property (NFP). Often pensions are a significant asset and in some cases the single largest asset after the matrimonial home. On January 1, 2012 new legislation was passed in Ontario Legislature that change how pensions are treated in equalization and who does the valuation. The new rules apply to provincial pensions under the Ontario Pensions and Benefits Act. Property Equalization Before the rule change, the value of a pension remained with the person who owned it. This treatment was unfair as the whole value of the pension could account for a large portion of one party’s equalization pot...
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Goal of Parenting Coordination (PC)

The goal of PC is to make sure your children survive your divorce. The effect of high conflict on children is well researched and documented. Parental conflict is a significant predictor of mental and behavioural health problems in children.   Divorce produces obstacles and hurdles that, for most divorce kids, complicate our childhoods and continue to impact through our adult lives. Most divorce kids survive despite their parents but all are impacted negatively.   However, some divorce kids have to deal with incredible circumstances. Their parents are not able to separate their parental roles from the conflict prior to or during the separation - often these are the same beast. Some parents continue to be committed to the fight, the win, proving the other parent is less or wrong. I see it often in my PC practice. Parents make ridiculous decisions just to win. For example, refusing to let your child play a sport just because it was the other parent's idea.   At its worst...
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