Ottawa Family Law Practice Group

What our expertise provides is a better experience for you. An experience that not only yields results, but also helps you through a difficult time in your life.The members of our Family Law Practice Group offer a complete range of services to meet your Family Law needs. Whether it be to assist in the negotiation and finalization of a Cohabitation Agreement or Marriage Contract, or to provide legal assistance through the often difficult post-separation period, our Family Law Group members appreciate the need for empathy, cost-effectiveness and timeliness to be adopted in meeting our clients’ interests.

Our lawyers encourage alternative dispute resolution techniques, offering services as mediators, arbitrators and collaborative lawyers. We also can serve as your legal counsel in those processes, as well as through solicitor-assisted negotiations.

Our legal team appears on a regular basis in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice (Family Court) and as appellate counsel in the Divisional Court and Court of Appeal for Ontario. Whether your issues are financial, child-focused or property-related, our extensive experience will allow you to understand the law, learn about your process options and allow you to achieve results.

Our Ottawa area Family Law Group practices in the following areas:

  • Mediations
  • Collaborative Practice
  • Custody and Access
  • Support
  • Property Issues
  • Divorce
  • Marriage Contracts
  • Cohabitation Contracts
  • Separation Agreements
  • Arbitration

Lawyers Practicing in Family Law

Carol Cochrane
James Jeffcott
Mimi Marrello
Kimberley Pollard
Kenneth Radnoff
Chris Rutherford
Erika Young

Questions?

Do I have to go to Court to resolve my family law issue?

It depends. There are many process options available to parties who are seeking ways to resolve family law disputes. Broadly speaking they include:

  • Informal Negotiation;
  • Mediation;
  • Collaborative Practice;
  • Cooperative Negotiation; and
  • Arbitration

There are variations on these processes and there can be some interchange between processes. To provide some context, the following are brief descriptions of the processes.

Informal Negotiations (e.g. the kitchen table agreement) take place between parties themselves. Sometimes the parties will solicit the assistance of friends, families, faith leaders and others to assist or advise. The advantages of this process are that it is informal and there is typically no cost to the parties. The disadvantages are that there is no legal advice and possibly a lack of information about the issues that need to be resolved and the possible outcomes and implications of the choices that are made.

Mediation is a formal negotiation process. A mediator, who acts as a neutral, third party facilitator, assists the parties to identify issues, gather information and negotiate outcomes. The mediator does not decide the issues and does not provide advice to the parties. Some mediators will draft the terms of an agreement. Some mediations take place with lawyers present, some do not. Independent Legal Advice is provided by the lawyers for each of the parties.

Collaborative Practice is a formal, interest based negotiation process. The parties and the professionals involved sign a contract which sets out how the process works and which includes a commitment not to go to Court. Instead the lawyers and, typically other professional neutrals, assist the parties to come to agreement on the issues between the parties. The lawyers provide real time legal advice and also assist in negotiating outcomes for the benefit of the parties and their families. Family Relations professionals assist with emotional aspects and with parenting issues. Financial professionals assist parties to gather financial information, help parties understand the financial implications and prepare calculations and financial projections.

Cooperative Negotiation is a formal negotiation process in which the parties and their lawyers work together to try to find solutions to the issues faced by parties and their families. There is nothing preventing any of the participants from going to Court if the process does not result in a desired resolution. The lawyers provide real time legal advice and also assist in the negotiation of the issues.

Arbitration can be compared to “private court”. If the parties are unable to negotiate some or all of the issues between them, they may appoint a decision-maker (the Arbitrator) to make decisions for them. The decision-maker is usually someone with special expertise in addressing the issues in dispute. It can be quicker and more flexible than the Court process. The parties agree that they will abide by the decision of the Arbitrator (the Award) and sometimes the decision is filed with the Court so that it can be enforced like a Court order. There are special rules if one wants to arbitrate a family law dispute in Ontario however.

The members of LMRs Family Law Group can give you more information about these and other process options and we can provide services in anyone of the processes. Please speak to any of them for more information.

What is the difference between Custody and Access?

Custody is the right to make important decisions regarding a child relating to their care and upbringing. This includes decisions concerning a child’s school and educational programs, religion, the child’s residence, the child’s legal name, health care decisions, and other activities such as sports and music. A misconception about custody is that it refers to the amount of time a child spends with each parent. This is not the case as it is possible for one parent to have custody over a child, but the child will spend equal time living with both parents, or the child may live primarily with one parent, and both parents may share custody.

Access is the right to spend time with the child. However, a person with access rights to a child has the right to be given information concerning the child’s health, education, and well-being from the custodial parent and third-parties, such as doctor’s, the child’s school, etc. Access to a child does not involve the right to make important decisions relating to the care or upbringing of a child.

If you have questions about custody and access or any other parenting issues ask anyone of the members of LMR’s Family Law Group and they will assist you.

Can spousal support payments be terminated when the support recipient remarries?

It depends. Spousal Support is a complicated area of Family Law. There are numerous factors which have to considered when determining if support is payable, in what amount and for what period of time. Ontario’s Family Law Act (which applies to support between unmarried spouses) sets out numerous factors to be considered, including:

  1. the current assets and means of the parties;
  2. the future assets and means that the parties are likely to have;
  3. a person’s capacity to contribute to his or her own support;
  4. a person’s capacity to provide support to the other;
  5. the ages and physical and mental health of the parties;
  6. the needs of the person seeking support, having regard to the accustomed standard of living enjoyed while the parties resided together;
  7. a person’s ability to provide for his or her own support and the length of time and cost involved to enable the person to do so;
  8. any legal obligation of the person to provide support for another person;
  9. whether care for a child in the home is required;
  10. the contribution by the a party to the realization of the other party’s career potential;
  11. the length of time the parties cohabited;
  12. the effect on the spouse’s earning capacity of the responsibilities assumed during cohabitation;
  13. whether the spouse has responsibility to care for an adult child for reasons of education, illness, disability or other cause;
  14. any housekeeping, child care or other domestic service performed by a spouse for the family;
  15. the effect on the spouse’s earnings and career development of the responsibility of caring for a child; and
  16. any other legal right of the person seeking support, other than out of public money.

The Divorce Act, which is the federal legislation, which deals with support for married spouses has similar factors which are to be considered.

So, remarriage (or cohabitation with a new partner) after separation is only one of numerous factors to be considered. Other factors may have more significance and a greater impact on any decision addressing support. The financial circumstances of the new partner will also have some bearing on whether it would be appropriate to or to decide whether support should be paid to a person.

The LMR Family Law Group can assist you to navigate this complicated area of family law. Please contact anyone in the Group for information about this or any other issue.