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If I Have Custody Of My Child, What Happens If I Move?

If I Have Custody Of My Child, What Happens If I Move?

The issue of mobility rights involves the question of a parent’s right to be able to move from his or her current jurisdiction with the children to another jurisdiction. Most often times these cases arise when a parent who has the primary residence and custody of the child, wants to move to a different city. Many parents in this situation wonder, “if I have custody of my child, what happens if I move?”.

There are many reasons why parents consider leaving their current jurisdiction: a new job, a new partner, or the desire to move closer to where their family and support system are. Whatever the motivation may be, the Court will focus on the best interests of the children in considering whether or not to permit the relocation. The Court will consider various factors in making the determination of what is in the children’s “best interests”, including the relevant circumstances of the child, the existing residency and custody arrangement, the desirability of maximizing contact between the children and both parents, the views of the child (if they are of sufficient age), the custodial parent’s reason for moving, and the disruption the move may have on the children.

In most cases, under the Family Law Act, the parent wishing to relocate is required to give 60 days’ notice to anyone else who is a guardian or has contact with the child. The other guardian who may wish to oppose the relocation will have 30 days from delivery of that notice to file an objection to the move taking place.

Family Law Act

Generally, the test to consider for relocation is set out in the Family Law Act and includes considerations such as:

1) Whether the proposed relocation is made in good faith;

2) Whether the proposed relocation is likely to enhance the general quality of life of the child and, if applicable, the relocating guardian;

3) If the relocating guardian has proposed reasonable and workable arrangements to preserve the relationship between the child and the child’s other guardians or persons who are entitled to have contact with the child.

At the time of separation, most parents will usually continue to reside in the same city, often within the same community. When they negotiate the terms of their Separation Agreement, they most often address the issue of mobility, by setting out a requirement that either parent is to give the other parent a certain number of days’ notice (for example, 60 or 90 days’ notice), in the event of a proposed change to the children’s permanent residence. This notification requirement is included within the Agreement in order to enable the parents to try to negotiate a new parenting arrangement, in the face of the proposed move.

It also gives the non-primary residential parent sufficient time to bring a court application to attempt to prevent the move, if a new parenting arrangement cannot be agreed upon. I have seen some Separation Agreements where parents have agreed that there will be no movement without the consent of both parties. Such restrictive clauses, however, are unenforceable. The courts will not bind a parent to such a clause, in the event that it is determined, following the signing of the Separation Agreement, that it is no longer the children’s best interests to remain in their current location.

Given that the Court has wide discretion in determining what is in the children’s best interests, mobility cases are often unpredictable and there is no guarantee of success. The parent proposing the relocation should ensure that they have a plan to maintain as much contact as possible with the parent remaining in the current jurisdiction, this includes telephone, Facetime and Skype access, greater periods of time over the holidays and what access will look like if the access parent comes to the new jurisdiction. It is important to have a plan before the court that addresses the proposed access if the children are permitted to move that provides as much detail as possible for consideration such as who will be responsible for the transport of the children.

It is the difficult task of the court to weigh these factors along with a consideration of what is in the best interests of the child, in order to arrive at a decision that will result in the least disruption to the child and their relationship with each parent. Parental mobility rights, which specifically address a parent’s right to relocate or move with a child, can present numerous complexities best addressed by an experienced lawyer. If you are looking to relocate or are an access parent and want to dispute a proposed move by the custodial parent, contact me today at 647-428-3919.

How to Survive Valentine Day While Being Single/Divorced

How to Survive Valentine Day While Being Single/Divorced

Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching. If you’ve separated from your spouse or are going through a divorce you may be dreading the Hallmark holiday. So here is a list of suggestions to help you get through this difficult time. 
 
Make a Schedule and Stick to It
If you sit around on Valentine’s Day and dwell on your newly-single life or think about what your ex is up to, you’re bound to have a difficult day. You can minimize your downtime by committing to staying busy. The best way to do this is to schedule out your day from start to finish. Think about things you’d like to do and people you’d like to spend time with. Make plans and stick to them.
 
Do Something For Yourself
A marriage can be hard work. As your marriage declined you may have spent most of your time and energy worrying about your relationship and/or your spouse. This probably means that you didn’t focus on your own health and happiness. Use Valentine’s Day to treat yourself to something nice. Splurge on an item you’ve been eyeing for a while. Buy yourself a visit to the spa. Treat yourself to a nice meal that you wouldn’t ordinarily get. Pampering yourself can be a great way to kick off a time where you focus on yourself instead of others.
 
Don’t Isolate Yourself
Spending time alone can be nice, but it can also be an easy way for you to sink into negative emotions. Valentine’s Day isn’t just about love between romantic partners. Valentine’s Day celebrates love between all people. Take some time on Valentine’s Day to spend time with the people you care about most. Take your kids out for a fun adventure. Meet up with friends for cocktails and dinner. Spend time with family members you don’t get to see a lot. No matter what you do, celebrate the love that you have in your life.
 
Take a Social Media Hiatus
Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat can be a great way to keep in touch with friends and family. On Valentine’s Day, these platforms will probably be overwhelmed with photos and stories of love. This may not be what you need to see right now. You may even be tempted to check up on your ex. You can avoid the negative impact of social media by taking a break for the day. Or, better yet, take a social media hiatus for the entire month.
 
Getting a divorce can be an incredibly overwhelming and stressful process. When Valentine’s Day falls in the middle of your divorce or while you are recovering from a divorce things can become even harder. Keep these suggestions in mind as you prepare for the holiday. Taking control of the day and making positive decisions will help you survive Valentine’s Day.
Happy V-Day <3
Family Goals for the New Year

Family Goals for the New Year

The end of an old year and the start of a new one is a time when we like to set goals, change bad habits and make resolutions for self-improvement. Here are five suggestions your family could try for the New Year.
1. Have more family dinners
Eating dinner as a family gives you time together to talk about your days and unwind and relax before any evening activities. Studies have shown that there are many benefits to preparing and eating meals as a family. There should be at least one time during the day when the whole family sits together to bond and reconnect with each other.
 
2. Stay active
It is a cliché at this point: people make a resolution to exercise and get fit for the New Year only to find themselves back in front of the TV by late January. Instead of making hard-to-reach goals, try making small changes to your everyday life that add physical activity to your regular routine. Research shows that when you start off with small and achievable goals, you are much more likely to follow through.
When trying to get your children active, parent and family behavior can have a very strong influence. The more active you are yourself, the more likely it is that your children will be active too. Incorporating sports or other playful activities into your child’s life will help to ensure that physical activity is seen as fun instead of work.
Where possible, encourage children to go outside and explore. Not only will this keep them active, but it will also give them an appreciation for nature.
 
3. Reduce screen time
As our lives become more dependent on technology, being mindful of screen time is increasingly important. “Screen time” is any time spent in front of a device such as a smart phone, computer, television or game console.
On top of promoting sedentary behavior, increased screen time can also decrease attachment to both parents and peers. Recent studies have also shown that high levels of screen-time are linked to increased psychological distress in children.
While the draw of TV and video games can be strong, encourage children to participate in activities like drawing, reading, or playing a board game. These activities help to build creativity and can be done alone or as a family.
 
4. Better family communication
Research shows that positive and open family communication starting at a young age can have major benefits in the long-run. Teenagers who communicate well with their parents are less likely to rebel and will also have stronger conflict resolution skills well into adulthood.
Along with regular meals together as a family, regular family leisure time can also lead to better communication. Recreational family time spent taking a walk to the park, playing a game of cards or just sitting on the back porch looking at the stars can offer a casual setting for families to talk to one another. It also increases feelings of attachment. Shared leisure time can also help families to build problem-solving skills and to better adapt to family change over time.
Adding an aspect of ritual or tradition to family activities can also increase the feeling of bonding in family members.
 
5. Less structure
In today’s busy world, it is easy to fall into the trap of over-scheduling. However, more and more studies are showing that between school and mealtimes, piano lessons and homework, it is important for children to have time to themselves for unstructured play.
During this time, children might play hide-and-seek, build a fort out of sticks or simply lay in the grass and look at the clouds. Allowing children unstructured time to entertain themselves helps them to develop independence, social skills, creativity and imagination. Unstructured play time also gives children a break from responsibilities so they have time to relax.
 
Wishing you and your family a successful and prosperous 2019!
Can I Afford A Lawyer

Can I Afford A Lawyer

If you and/or your partner have decided to end your relationship one of the first questions you will be asking yourself,  “Do I need a lawyer?” and the next question will be “Can I afford a lawyer?”. This is not a simple question, and will depend  on your particular situation- are you and your partner amicable and on speaking terms, if you have any children or property to name a few.  Many people who are separating want to avoid paying legal fees as they feel they cannot afford a lawyer. I cannot tell you how many times I have see litigants who have commenced their own actions and are struggling to map their way through the legal system. Their reason for doing so is usually because they cannot afford legal assistance. Then there are those who are scared to walk into a lawyer office because just the thought of being quoted a retainer gives them anxiety. Let’s be real – legal representation is not cheap, and every lawyer has their own fee structure.

I respect and understand the struggle of litigants and offer a variety of payment options:

Legal Aid – I accept Legal Aid certificates. Legal aid is a government program that helps people with a low income receive legal representation and advice. Although publicly funded, Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) is an independent, non-profit corporation providing legal aid services in Ontario. To find out more information please visit their website https://www.legalaid.on.ca/en/

JusticeNet- I offer fees quoted by JusticeNet. JusticeNet is a not-for-profit service helping people in need of legal expertise, whose income is too high to access legal aid and too low to afford standard legal fees. If you are unable to qualify for Legal Aid, go on to the JusticeNet website and call me with the fee they have quoted you- It’s that simple.

Unbundled Fees or Limited Retainers-  Unbundled legal services and limited retainers allows clients to access more affordable legal services for specific part of their case. For example preparation of court documents, guidance of court procedure and assistance with negotiation.

Having a lawyer represent you or assist you is valuable. I work with my client to ensure that they get the legal representation they are seeking with the results they are aiming for and I always encourage people to settle the issues arising from their separation as expeditiously as possible. Contact me today and let’s chat 647-428-3919

How Do I Confirm The Separation Date?

How Do I Confirm The Separation Date?

You and your partner/spouse have decided to separate but are not ready to go through the whole cycle of divorce. Is there a document or a form that should be filled out to confirm the separation date?

The answer is No.

In Ontario there is no special form dedicated to confirming the separation date. You can enter into a separation agreement, a written contract between you and your partner to live apart on certain terms and conditions, but it is not a requirement.

If you and your spouse/partner have not discussed separation, then how do you know you have separated? For some, the definition of living separate and apart usually means they have separated. The term separate does not require the parties to live in different homes, but it does require them to be living in separate bedrooms and have d.

While there is no form to confirm the separation date, it is an important date to remember for three reasons:

  1. The separation date is used to determine the equalization of property;
  2. You can obtain a divorce after one year of being separated;
  3. The separation date is used to determine the date from which child/spousal support is owed.

The dissolution of a marriage is often a difficult thing and it may be hard to tell when things were over. You need to be aware of the separation date, because it will affect aspects of the divorce, as well as being the start to your new life.

 

What Is A Simple Divorce?

What Is A Simple Divorce?

When you hear people say simple divorce” they are probably referring to uncontested divorce. Uncontested divorce is when both parties agree to the divorce. Simple divorce does not exist but if both parties are agreeable to the divorce then it becomes simple as there is no litigation.

There are three grounds for divorce;

  • The parties must have been separated for at least one year;
  • Adultery;
  • One party treated the other with physical or mental cruelty.

Uncontested divorce can be started by both parties together- Joint Divorce. In a joint divorce proceeding both parties file at the same time to initiate the divorce. One of the advantages of joint divorce is that both parties usually agree to share the costs related to the divorce. A joint divorce is not “quicker” than other divorce proceedings but there is a peace of mind for both parties that they are mutually agreeable to the divorce.

Divorce can also be initiated by one party. If issues such as child support, spousal support, custody, access and property have been settled then one party can commence a Divorce Application in court seeking only divorce. The process is as follows:

The applicant will file an application for divorce with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. A copy of the application must also be served on the applicant’s spouse, who will be the respondent in the proceeding. The served spouse has 30 days, or 60 if they reside outside Canada, to file an “Answer” if they wish to contest the divorce. Where an Answer is not filed, the court assumes that the respondent does not contest the divorce. This is what is referred to as “Simple Divorce”; there is no litigation between the parties.

Our office can assist you in preparing, filing and arrange for service of a divorce application on your behalf.  We help you successfully navigate all the steps of a divorce proceeding and advise you on issues you should be aware of when separating from your spouse and the consequences of your divorce. Contact us today for more information.