The lawyers in the Family Law group provide pragmatic advice, personalized attention and professional representation when they are needed most. Whether for separation, divorce, marriage contracts, cohabitation agreements or adoptions, our extensive experience at negotiation, mediation, arbitration and court litigation keep our focus on results.
Adoption is the legal means by which a person permanently takes on the responsibility of caring for and raising a child.
In Ontario, there are a four different ways to adopt a child: by a family member or step-parent, through a children’s aid society, through a licensed individual or private adoption agency, or through a licensed international adoption agency with offices in Ontario. The most common type of adoptions are by family members or step-parents.
An adoption extinguishes any right to access to the child by a birth parent or a member of a birth parent’s family. The process is highly technical and has to be navigated with care, sensitivity and expertise. Our family law group has the skill and experience to assist clients with the adoption procedure, or even to just discuss the possibility of adopting a child.
No one likes change. After negotiating or litigating a settlement, many people are caught off-guard when circumstances may dictate that existing terms for parenting and support need to be adjusted or entirely revisited. Often demands for or against change lead to greater distrust, making these issues difficult to settle without reliable guidance.
We will provide you as much certainty available in your circumstances, including what information needs to be collected to address the issues at hand, and assessing your risks. We can represent and defend your positions assiduously and help make balanced settlement decisions based on the likely result if or where the matter to be litigated.
When a relationship ends, the parties must make decisions about the well-being of their children. Sadly, in a number of cases, these children become the centre of the family law dispute and neither parent can be said to be doing what is best for the child or taking a position that is in the child’s best interest. In such cases, counsel for the child can be appointed or retained.
Our child’s counsel is trained in both law and social work. She has the ability and sensitivity necessary for working with children and representing their interests in contested matters, as separate from their parents.
In some cases, court is the only or final option. We have the knowledge, skill and experience to litigate vigorously to defend client interests and secure positive court outcomes. We have the ability to handle the wide gamut of contested cases from large, complex child and financial matters to single issue concerns. We work on a team approach to ensure the work is done to a high standard and cost-effectively, as we recognize that litigation can be expensive. While litigating on behalf of clients, we always remain open to settlement possibilities and creative resolution of the dispute.
You can agree to the division of property and payment of spousal support, among some other issues, at the beginning of your relationship or a major financial purchase. Doing so provides certainty, manages risk and can reduce the likelihood of litigation at the end of the relationship. At the same time, these documents have to be fair and negotiated properly for them to “work” as expected in the future.
We will walk you through the entire negotiation process, explain how your legal rights are affected and be mindful that your ongoing relationship should not be hurt by the negotiation. As these contracts are not “off-the-shelf", we will tailor the approach and terms to suit your particular circumstances.
Every case is different. Every client has unique financial, emotional and legal needs. As a result, the process for resolving the dispute should be tailored to the particular parties and the issues at hand.
Some parties would like their disputes resolved privately, outside of the court system. Two alternative dispute resolution processes we regularly employ are mediation and arbitration.
Mediation is a cooperative process whereby the parties, assisted by their lawyers, try to resolve their disputes with the assistance of a neutral third-party mediator. Arbitration, conversely, is a process whereby the parties retain a private decision-maker to make an award on the issues in the case.
We are trained to represent clients in mediation and arbitration. One of our family law team members is an accredited and certified family mediator and who conducts private mediations as well as representing clients in mediations and arbitrations.
Collaborative law is another means by which to resolve disputes. It is a process whereby both parties and their lawyers sign a contract to work in a cooperative manner. The contract confirms that the parties will not commence court proceedings without first making every effort to resolve the case. The process involves a series of meetings with both lawyers and both parties to narrow the issues and ultimately resolve them. If a matter cannot be resolved collaboratively, then the parties must each retain new counsel if they want to initiate court proceedings. We have counsel trained to represent clients in the collaborative law process.
The end of your relationship can be life changing, but it does not need to be life defining. Parenting schedules and responsibilities, ongoing support, residential arrangements and division of property are just a few of the legal issues that arise at the end of a relationship. Circumstances may be complex, and emotions may run high.
From the very first consultation, we will identify all of your legal issues and give you solid, practical advice to help you consider your priorities and end results. Together, we consider how each of your issues can be resolved and enforced, including the best method of dispute resolution. If a matter requires litigation or you are already in a court proceeding, we have extensive courtroom experience to confidently put your litigation positions forward, while advising you on sensible settlement positions to manage risk and help you move forward with your life.