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The material on our website/blog is intended to provide only general information to the public and our existing clients. This information cannot under any circumstances be relied on as legal advice. To obtain legal advice, or to learn how the information on this website may or may not apply in your situation, please contact our office to speak with one of our lawyers.

The Challenges of a Late Life Divorce

Posted by on 8:30 am in Divorce, Family Law | Comments Off on The Challenges of a Late Life Divorce

The Challenges of a Late Life Divorce

Divorce is never an easy or simple experience. With a constant flow of tedious paperwork on top of emotional trials, it???s no wonder divorce is stressful. But what if you and your spouse have been together for 30 or 40 years? How does one begin to deal with a divorce after a long-term, life-defining relationship? Marriages break down for many reasons. Some couples wake up one day and realize that they are just not happy together. They raised their children together and have discovered that the person they wake up to every morning is not the person they feel they should be with. It???s common for couples to stay together for the sake of the children, but once they experience empty nest they may gain perspective on their own situation. It???s also possible to uncover infidelity, either a new experience or an ongoing adultery for many years. Either way the stress infidelity puts on a marriage is most often insurmountable and eventually leads to the breakdown of the marriage. Is getting divorced in your golden years different from getting divorced as a young or middle-aged adult? Here are a few things to consider. 1. Division of assets can be quite significant After decades of marriage, there are likely significant assets held between the two of you that may be difficult to divide as equally as the law dictates. There could be sentimental objects, family cottages, or valuable collectibles that hold meaning to each spouse making division of the assets emotional and difficult. Younger couples who experience divorce do not necessarily have significant assets and the division is much simpler to undertake. 2. Adjustment to life after long-term marriage Divorce is all about starting a new life. But for a couple who have been married for decades, starting anew may be more of a challenge than you might think. The constant presence of the other person in your daily life is sure to be missed to some degree. Lack of companionship is a problem seniors often experience and subjecting yourself to loneliness voluntarily can be hard to endure. 3. Consider your health As you age, your body starts to slow down and medical problems are often a commonality. Typically in a marriage the healthier spouse will handle the medical concerns of the other. This can mean management of medication, ensuring proper meals are prepared, or keeping up with doctors appointments. Remove the caregiver and suddenly one spouse is in a significantly weakened position. Not all marriages are meant to last. If you are in your golden years and contemplating divorce, you can be certain to encounter many challenges. If you require assistance with drafting a separation agreement or negotiating property division or spousal support, Court Coach LLP can...

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Understanding Estate Tax

Posted by on 8:29 am in Estate | Comments Off on Understanding Estate Tax

Understanding Estate Tax

Tax season does not typically invoke excitement in many people, other than possibly accountants. Unfortunately, even after death taxes are still unavoidable. They can even be a lingering task to be completed years after death depending on the complexity of the estate. Final Tax Return What time of year you die affects your taxes for your last year of life. Your estate trustee is responsible for gathering your tax information and filing your final return for the year after you pass. Logistically speaking it is easiest to file a final return for someone who passed away closer to the end of the year as documents are fresh at hand from dealing with the estate. If a person passes away in the earlier part of the year, then their final return cannot be filed until the following tax year. This of course means that the estate trustee will be responsible for gathering all of the vital tax information almost a year after the death itself. For the unorganized, this can be problematic. Filing Dates There are also specific filing due dates for estate tax returns which have to do with the date of death. If the person passed between January 1 and October 31, the final tax return is due April 30 the following year. If the person passed away between November 1 and December 31 the due date for the final return is six months after the date of death. The time limits are in place to allow sufficient time for the estate trustees to accumulate all required information as it is at times challenging to locate. It also provides for additional time in order to sell any real estate that the estate is interested in selling. There may be capital gains to pay after certain property sales and this amount needs to be added to the deceased???s income for their final tax return. Estate Returns in Subsequent Years Even after the final tax return is filed, if the estate is earning money, for example via interest on investments, then every year an estate return must be filed. Working with an accountant will ensure that the estate trustee captures all applicable income that needs to be included. No one likes to file taxes, and it???s especially difficult to do so when also dealing with the loss of a loved one. However there are lots of resources available to those who require assistance and it never hurts to have the advice of a lawyer in estate tax matters. Some estates can go for years without being settled and will require continuous involvement from the estate trustees. Be certain that if you are an estate trustee that you know what is expected of you and ensure all filing deadlines are met. Contact Court Coach LLP for a no-obligation consultation to learn more about Wills and...

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Why Therapy After Separation is a Good Idea

Posted by on 2:12 pm in Divorce, Helpful Tips, Separation | Comments Off on Why Therapy After Separation is a Good Idea

Why Therapy After Separation is a Good Idea

Not all separations or divorces are amicable and friendly. Sometimes a separation can come at an extreme shock to one of the parties causing immense pain and emotional distress. It is advisable following a traumatic separation to seek out the help of a trained therapist or counsellor to help you cope with the stress and difficulty of the breakdown of your relationship. Infidelity There are many causes that can lead to a separation, some may appear worse than others. One common reason is infidelity. This can cause serious emotional damage to the faithful partner especially if the marriage or relationship was one of many years. The distrust a person experiences after having their partner in life be unfaithful may leave them closed off to other relationships in the future, causing them to be distrusting and alone. Seeking therapy after a marriage or relationship that ended in infidelity may be the best way to start the path to emotional healing and a new and healthy life. Abuse Another reason to seek out the help is if there was abuse in the relationship. An abused person carries the emotional scarring long after any physical wounds have disappeared. It can be almost impossible to trust anyone again after experiencing physical or emotional abuse and it is highly recommended to attend therapy and help sort through your feelings. There may also be lingering fear of the person who hurt you long after they have left your life. Talking with a counselor may be the only way to completely overcome your fears. In a situation where there has been abuse, don???t forget to get support for any children of the relationship in addition to yourself. Even if the children were themselves unharmed physically by abuse, there may be emotional trauma experienced that should be addressed by a child therapist who specializes in this area. Although older children may protest, it???s important to insist on some level of counseling in case there are buried issues beneath the surface. Individual Therapy Sometimes, even if there wasn???t any malicious behaviour behind the separation, the breakdown of the relationship itself is enough to cause someone to go into a depression. Adjusting to life without your partner and discovering who you are on your own can be a challenging process. If the divorce wasn???t for any reason other than ???people change over time??? and was more one sided than mutual, this can be difficult accept and manage. Don???t be ashamed or nervous to have a therapist assist you through the separation process, there is no need to undergo the stress of it all on your own. Family Counselling Even if the separation or divorce was amicable, it can be a traumatic time for all. Family counselling can help both adults and children adjust to the new reality, express feelings, and empower the entire family with healthy communication techniques. Especially if there are children involved, it is important to seek assistance and support as the family enters a new chapter in...

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Equalization of Net Family Property

Posted by on 2:17 pm in Divorce, Family Law, Separation | Comments Off on Equalization of Net Family Property

Equalization of Net Family Property

There are a lot of terms that float around during a divorce proceeding. In Ontario a common term is the ???equalization of net family property.??? The purpose of this exercise is to ultimately determine how much money there is in the marriage and to divide it according to the rule of law. Dividing Property Each partner is entitled to receive the value of one half of the family property accumulated during the marriage. For instances, if two houses are owned by the married couple, it does not mean that one partner gets one house and the other automatically gets the remaining house. It means that the value of both properties will be assessed and an equal monetary value of the total of the two houses will be awarded to each divorcing spouse. Some properties have significantly higher values than others, so the value of everything needs to be taken into consideration. The property calculation will account for all assets, including real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, RRSPs, investments, pensions, jewellery etc. and all debts, such as mortgage, car loan, line of credit, or consumer debt. The resulting balance is the Net Family Property, which must be divided. Whichever spouse has a higher net family property value (NFP) will pay the other spouse half the difference between the two figures. For instance, if the wife has $60,000 higher NFP than her husband, both spouses receive $30,000 each to balance, or equalize, their net property values. The wife would provide the husband with assets to make up the difference such as a cash payment, RRSP, bonds, pension, or proceeds from a home sale or the sale of other assets. Valuation Date It???s also important to know that things are calculated for their value as at the ???valuation date.??? As a general rule, the ???valuation date??? is the date the spouses separate and there is no reasonable prospect that they will resume cohabitation. A specific date needs to be implemented across the board because certain items can fluctuate in value over time and there needs to be a constant baseline with which all parties can work with. Once a date is determined, which in most cases is the date of separation or when you ceased to be living together as a married couple, all property can be valued and a total of all marital assets can be reached. Some assets are excluded from this calculation under the Family Law Act, for example gifts or inheritances received after the date of marriage, damages for personal injuries, proceeds of a life insurance policy, etc. You should consult with a family lawyer with respect to what is excluded before making the valuations. Understanding Debt Marriages accumulate quite a bit of debt depending on the lifestyle lived by the couple. Habitual shoppers or frequent travellers may have incurred more debt than a more frugal couple who worked hard at staying in the black. Take a total of all debt, including mortgages, car loans and credit card debt, and this total will be subtracted from your total assets in the calculation. There is more to calculating the net family property beyond simply adding and subtracting. The law allows for different inclusions and exclusions and as a result calculations can take months to acquire at times. It is also...

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Understanding Mediation in Family Law

Posted by on 1:00 pm in Helpful Tips | Comments Off on Understanding Mediation in Family Law

Understanding Mediation in Family Law

The process of going through court is not only time-consuming, but it is also financially and emotionally draining. If your case is appropriate for mediation, and both parties are willing to participate, trying mediation before initiating a court application can be beneficial.   What is Mediation?   Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution and is commonly used in many areas of law to settle disputes. Family law uses mediation quite frequently as a tool to help separating couples work out their support or child payments, visitation arrangements and property division.   Mediation is an informal meeting of the two parties together with a neutral, third party mediator. A mediator is often a lawyer, psychologist, or a social worker, however when acting as a mediator, they cannot assist the parties with their other regular professional skills. During a mediation session, the mediator will help the parties work through their problems by being a neutral observer and offering unbiased opinions, steering the parties towards a solution. They are not there to judge who is right or who is wrong, and they are not permitted to offer legal advice in this capacity. Sometimes the presence of a mediator is all that is needed for both parties to get their positions, but also feelings out on the table, and to reach a resolution.   Seek Independent Legal Advice   It is advisable that participants in mediation obtain legal advice before attending a mediation session to ensure they are properly informed of their rights throughout the process. You may also wish to retain a lawyer to attend mediation with you.   If you are able to come to an agreement during your mediation session, the mediator may write out terms of agreement, or a mediation report summarizing what was discussed. However, before signing anything, it is important to review the terms with a lawyer. Once an agreement is fully executed by all parties it is binding and must be followed.   A Voluntary Dispute Resolution Process   Mediation is completely voluntary, meaning either party can leave at any point during a mediation session. It is also important to know that mediation is not right for every circumstance. If your situation involves violence, abuse, or intimidation then mediation may be inappropriate, as a fair agreement cannot be reached if one party feels threatened by the other. For many other cases however, ??mediation can be beneficial, saving parties both time and legal fees. Have a discussion with your lawyer if you think mediation is the best route for you to...

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All About Motion

Posted by on 12:25 pm in Family Law, Helpful Tips | Comments Off on All About Motion

All About Motion

You may have heard the term ???motion??? being tossed around in legal communities, or even on television, but what is a motion and what are they used for specifically in Family Court?   Motions are actions that are brought before the court, typically in the middle of a proceeding. They are intended to obtain a temporary order, but not to settle the main case itself. The motion can be for procedural orders, such as financial disclosure or the release of certain reports, or for substantive orders such as interim access to children or child support. The Court will decide whether you will be granted the order sought, or whether it will be dismissed. In Ontario, the Family Law Rules Rule 14 outlines how and when to bring a motion.   If both parties agree to exchange certain disclosure, or they agree to a temporary access schedule for example, they can ask the Court to grant the motion in accordance with their agreement. These are orders on consent. The documents required vary depending on whether you are presenting the Consent Order during a court hearing, or filing it at the family counter in writing, but typically a Consent to order, a draft of the order you are seeking approved by both parties, and ???Minutes of Settlement??? (the terms of agreement incorporated into the order) will be required.   If the issues are contested, you will need to file a Notice of Motion outlining the orders you are looking for, and a sworn affidavit outlining the facts in support of your motion. Your evidence is attached to the affidavit as ???Exhibits???. If your motion is over an hour long, you will also need to do what is called a ???Factum???. This document summarizes the facts, the law, and how the law applies in your specific case, in order to support the claim you are making. You also must provide copies of the cases you rely on in your factum. The factum assists the judge deciding your motion by outlining all of this important information in one place. Some family court motions can be brought before the court on an urgent basis while others are less complicated and unopposed. Each motion carries their own set of rules for filing and the court expects the rules to be followed regardless of whether you are a lawyer or self-representing. For more information on motions in family law feel free to contact Court Coach to schedule a one hour...

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Importance of a Will

Posted by on 10:34 am in Helpful Tips, Wills | Comments Off on Importance of a Will

Importance of a Will

There is a saying that the only two inevitable things in life are death and taxes. With death being such an inevitability, there should be no excuse for anyone to die without having a valid will in place. Many people think that just because they are young they do not need to bother with having a will, however death can sometimes be untimely, so it???s best to always be prepared. Why make a will? By drafting a Will, you can provide your family and friends with specific instructions about your wishes. ??This can reduce the stress on your loved ones in an already difficult time. ??By not having a will you give up the right to choose who will inherit your assets, the amount each person will get, and when they will get it. ??A will also allows you to state a preference on who would be the guardian of your children in the event of your death. ?? A benefit of having a will is that you can appoint an Estate Trustee who has the power to deal with your estate instantly after your death. ??Without a will, no one has that authority until the court appoints someone. Having to go to court can cause long delays, resulting in unnecessary hardship and expense for your family. What makes a will valid? In order for a will to be deemed valid it needs to be dated, signed by the testator (the person who is writing the will) and two witnesses that do not stand to benefit from anything in the will. For example a witness can be a friend, a next-door neighbour or an employee at a law firm, should you choose to go through a lawyer. Sometimes a will can be handwritten instead of typed. However a handwritten will, known as a ???holograph??? will, may be placed under harsher scrutiny to prove it is in fact the handwriting of the deceased. ??A holograph will does not need to be witnessed; however it is highly recommended. The most important part of a holograph will is that it be entirely handwritten, signed and dated. What happens if you die without a will? If you die without a will, you will be considered to have died ???intestate.??? In such a case, your estate will be distributed according to the law, not according to your personal wishes. If you always wanted your son to have your baseball card collection, or if you really wanted your antique car to go to your sister, unfortunately none of these bequests will be granted because it was not laid out properly in a will. In Ontario, your property would pass to your relatives through a statutory scheme under Ontario???s Succession Law Reform Act.?? Under this law, the first $200,000.00 of your estate (the preferential share) will go to your surviving spouse, should you have one, and any remaining money in your estate will be divided between your surviving spouse and any children you have. if your estate does not exceed $200,000.00, then your children will be left with nothing after your spouse receives their preferential share. Having a will is particularly important if you are not married or are in a common law relationship, or if you have very little family. ??Common law spouses do not...

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5 Ways to Help Children Cope with Divorce

Posted by on 11:17 am in Divorce, Family Law, Helpful Tips | Comments Off on 5 Ways to Help Children Cope with Divorce

5 Ways to Help Children Cope with Divorce

Depending on the age of your children, a separation or divorce can be a very traumatizing. In infants and extremely young children the change is less disruptive, but for older children it can be a horrible situation to watch your parents??? relationship dissolve. If you have recently separated and have children, here are some ways that you can ease the stress caused to your children throughout the process. 1- Don???t fight in front of them This may seem like a no-brainer, but it is more difficult to achieve than you may think. There are reasons you are getting a divorce and whatever those reasons are can easily lead to fights. Try to remember that your children are innocent and absolutely should not be subjected to any negativity. Heated discussions are likely to arise from time to time, especially when still living together, but control yourselves as much as possible when the kids are home. 2- Listen to your children Although your children are young, they have valid emotions. It???s important that you take the time to acknowledge what they are feeling and discuss the situation with them on their level. Expect that they will act out and behave differently during the process, because divorce is not something that they readily understand. Have discussions about how they feel and how you can make them feel better and adjust to the new way of life. 3- Consistency is key Once the children have their lives turned upside down by mom and dad no longer living together, establish a routine right away and stick to it. Don???t be late to pick your kid up if it???s your turn to do so, don???t cancel plans you have with them and make them feel unwanted or unappreciated. Be as consistent as possible and show them that life can still be happy and healthy even though new living arrangements are in place. 4- Remember to take care of yourself Divorce is difficult, and for some it may be unwanted. But for the sake of the children, try not to fall apart in front of them. Do whatever you need to do to live a healthy life once the divorce proceedings have begun and provide a positive environment for your children. Seek counselling if you need help dealing with the divorce, there is no shame in that, and be sure that you are ok and well enough to take care of your children properly. 5-Stay involved Just because you are no longer a couple, that doesn’t mean that you can???t attend the same soccer game or piano recital. Learn how to be in the same room with your ex in such a way that allows you both to be involved your children???s lives. It???s important that the children know you still care about them and they are forever loved. Remember that divorce is difficult for the whole family, and recognize that your children are always watching and feel the emotions you put...

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Dealing With Separation Over the Holidays

Posted by on 10:24 am in Coaching, Divorce, Helpful Tips | Comments Off on Dealing With Separation Over the Holidays

Dealing With Separation Over the Holidays

The holidays can be a joyous occasion or a lonely occasion depending on your situation. For those who are undergoing or have already undergone a separation, the holidays this year may be quite challenging. Adjusting to life without your long-term partner is hard enough on its own, but things seem to feel even lonelier over the holiday season. Here are five ways you can help yourself deal with your separation over the holidays. Spend Your Free Time With Your Family Your family should always be your strongest supporters when it comes to surviving a separation, so turn to them for support and company when the days start to feel a little lonely. This could be time to reconnect with siblings or to establish a closer relationship with your parents. You can also grow closer with the ???family you choose??? ??? your friends. Wherever your family is, make the effort to have them be a big part of your life. Volunteer The holiday season brings many things, including the need for good-hearted people to volunteer their time. Whether it be at a soup kitchen or at a toy drive, volunteering can help you take your mind off of your own loneliness and focus on helping others who truly need a hand. Join a Club Look around your neighbourhood for different clubs that may be going on. A book club, or a fitness class, or perhaps even an art class are all great places to meet people who share your same passion and can help pass the time in good company. Do Not Drown Your Sorrows Sometimes the desire to blur out your feelings can lead you to a dangerous place. These options never yield good results and can destroy the happiness of the holiday season. Find joy and peace elsewhere, not in ways that are harmful to yourself. If alcohol or substances are causing you trouble, please reach out to your doctor or support groups. Write Your Feelings Down It is absolutely natural to be overwhelmed with your emotions the first holiday season after a separation, sometimes it can be almost too much to handle. A safe outlet for your feelings is a journal. Vent out your frustrations, your hardships, and your feelings with pen and paper. It will feel good to purge yourself of the negative thoughts and feelings surrounding your separation, leaving yourself open to happiness and joy. You may also find it helpful to speak with a counselor or therapist. ?? Do not let the holidays be ruined by a separation. There is joy to be found, all you have to do is be open to finding...

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Child Support Payment

Posted by on 12:14 pm in Child Support, Divorce, Family Law | Comments Off on Child Support Payment

Child Support Payment

There are many aspects of a separation or divorce, and even more so when children are involved. Child support is often a contentious issue. Parents have a legal obligation to provide financial support to their children.?? Child support can be confirmed by an agreement or court order that outlines the quantum and frequency of the child support payments. In 1997, the Child Support Guidelines came in effect to help determine child support obligations throughout Canada.?? Each province has their own set of Guidelines.?? The Child Support Guidelines are objective, with the goals of establishing a fair standard of support for all children, to reduce conflict by making the amount of support easier to determine, to improve the efficiency of the legal process and encourage settlement, and to ensure the consistent treatment of children and parents who are similar circumstances. Amount The Child Support Guidelines will determine the amount of support owed by the payor parent, taking into consideration the gross income from all sources of the payor parent.?? The amount is also dictated by which province the payor parent lives in, as each province has their own Guidelines. Consult with a family lawyer in your jurisdiction to see what the table requirements are in the province you are ordinarily resident in. ??If the payor parent lives outside of Canada, then the Guidelines of the province where the child lives will be used. The amount of time a child spends with each parent can be a factor when trying to determine the amount of child support owed.?? If each parent has the child in their care at least 40% of the time, then both parents income could be used to determine child support and a ???set-off??? amount of child support may be appropriate. In these shared custody situations, the additional costs of the parenting arrangements must also be considered, and the Child Support Guidelines may not apply. The amount of support can be varied from to time to time to reflect a change in the payor???s income. Special Circumstances As a general rule, the court has very little discretion when applying the Guidelines.?? As previously stated, the objectives of the Guidelines are to provide efficiency and consistency.?? However there are certain circumstances where the court may decide to use its discretion to deviate from the Guidelines.?? A court may consider a different amount of child support if one of the following situations applies: A child is over the age of majority (18 years); A payor’s income is over $150,000 annually; A payor is the child???s step-parent; If there is a shared or split custody situation; If the payor parent makes a successful claim of undue hardship; On consent of the parties, if other special provisions have been made to support the children. We strongly suggest that you consult with a family law lawyer if any of these situations applies to you. Family Responsibility Office In Ontario, the Family Responsibility Office automatically handles child support payments, unless the parties agree to withdraw their court order from being enforced by the Family Responsibility Office.?? Parents who have a written agreement regarding support can also enroll in the program.?? There are similar agencies in each province throughout Canada. The purpose of the Family Responsibility Office is to ensure that support is collected, accounted...

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