FAMILY LAW

Family Law can comprise of a broad range of topics and issues, from happy ones like adoption and the beginning of two people living together or getting married, to difficult ones like the breakdown of a relationship and what that might mean for a family.
 
At Tsang Law, we can help with all Family Law issues, large or small, happy or sad.  Contact us for a free consultation to get more information and to know what your next steps may be.

Adoption

Adoption means legally and permanently taking on the responsibility of caring for and raising a child, and there are generally three (3) types of adoption: Public, private, or international.  Public adoption is the adoption of children who are in the permanent care of a children's aid society.  Private adoption is the adoption of children from a private agency.  International adoption is the adoption of children abroad, via a private agency. 

 

Cohabitation Agreement

When a couple have chosen to live together, they may want to consider entering into a cohabitation agreement to address such issues as: Property rights, spousal support, and how to deal with joint accounts/debts.  Cohabitation agreements can also be drafted in such a way that it will turn into a marriage contract if the couple marries.  Each person should retain their own lawyer for independent advice, and as part of this process, there should be an exchange of each person's full financial disclosure.

Prenuptial Agreement, Marriage Contract & Postnuptial Agreement

Prenuptial agreements ("prenups") and marriage contracts are the same thing: It is a legal agreement between a couple which addresses property and support terms as agreed upon by the couple.  A postnuptial agreement contains the same information as a prenup or marriage contract, but it is signed after marriage, whereas the prenup or marriage contract is usually signed prior to marriage.  Similar to the cohabitation agreement, each person should have their own lawyer and should exchange full financial disclosure to supplement the agreement.

Divorce

Divorce is the legal dissolution of a marriage, and a divorce must be completed before someone can remarry.  There are two types of divorce: Uncontested and contested.  For uncontested divorces, neither person is against obtaining the divorce and either one person or both people jointly can move forward to request the Court for a divorce.  In contested divorces, one person may seek for a divorce to be granted before the other separation issues are addressed; however, that person will need to provide the Court with reasons why the divorce should be granted despite the unresolved separation issues. 

Variation of Agreement or Court Order

If a couple have an existing agreement and subsequently, one person's circumstances have changed significantly, that person can ask for a change to the agreement (variation).  If both people are able to agree to the new terms between themselves or with their own lawyers, they can update their agreement through an amendment or an updated agreement to replace the previous one.  Otherwise, the person seeking the change can apply to Court for a variation of their agreement or court order.

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Separation Agreement

When a couple's relationship breaks down, regardless of whether they are married or common-law, they can choose to resolve their issues through negotiations between themselves or with the assistance of their own lawyers, who will finalize the terms of the agreement into a legally binding document called a Separation Agreement.  Separation Agreements can deal with all issues arising from the separation, or can contain only the issues or terms for which the couple are agreed upon, while they pursue other options (like mediation, arbitration or Court) for the issues that they cannot agree on.

Custody & Access

Custody in family law refers to the decision making of the major decisions in a child or children's live(s). There are two major types of custody: Sole custody and joint custody.  Sole custody means one parent having the sole decision making power, whereas joint custody means both parents having to make decisions together.

Access in family law refers to the children's time sharing with the parents.  An access schedule should include a regular timetable for the children's time with each parent, as well as holiday and vacation provisions which provide for different or additional time with the children.  For example, a regular timetable may not apply during the summer months when the children are out of school, and parents may also want to request for specific terms to address religious and/or cultural holidays and celebrations.

Child Support, Extraordinary Expenses & Spousal Support

Child support is a minor child's entitlement to financial support from both separated parents for their day-to-day expenses.  A parent's child support obligation is based on his/her gross annual income, and the amount payable can be found in the applicable province table within the Federal Child Support Guidelines (see the "Resources" section for a link to a Child Support Calculator).  There may be circumstances in which the strict child support amount will not apply. 

 

Extraordinary expenses refer to the child's expenses which are outside of everyday expenses and therefore are payable on top of regular child support. These expenses may include: daycare, music lessons, soccer team fees, hockey tournaments, and university/college tuition.  

Spousal support refers to a person's potential entitlement to support from the other, and the obligation and amount payable are driven by case-specific factors, such as (but not limited to): Both people's age, duration of marriage, age(s) of child(ren) if any, both people's economic circumstances, employment, etc. 

One thing to note is the existence of the Family Responsibility Office, which can be involved (voluntarily or court ordered) in the collection and payment of both child and spousal support. 

Property Division (Equalization)

Equalization is a family law legal term that refers to the division of property of a couple due to the breakdown of a marriage.  Each person may be entitled to apply deductions for assets he/she brought into the marriage, and similarly, he/she is solely responsible for debts brought into the marriage.  Generally, the property that the couple has during the marriage is divided evenly; however, there are circumstances which may result in an unequal division of property.  Also, there is specific treatment of the division of the matrimonial home, and if you are unsure about how property division will work in your circumstance, please contact us for further information.

In common-law relationships, while there is no automatic property division in the dissolution of these relationships, there may be division of jointly owned property and circumstances where one person may seek to recover financial or physical investments that person may have made to the other person's property. 

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