Morrison Reist Law Firm

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FAQ - Morrison Reist Law Firm

Most of us have little experience with family law issues—until we are faced with a family crisis of our own. If you are dealing with a family law issue, you are probably (understandably) feeling overwhelmed and concerned about the effect that the situation may have on your life, your property and finances, and your relationships with your children. You may also be unsure of your next steps.

Below, we have sought to answer some common questions pertaining to family law. This should not be a substitute for qualified, competent legal advice; please  contact the Morrison Reist Law Firm to discuss your individual situation.

Do divorce cases have to go to court?

Under Canadian law, a judge must approve and grant the divorce. However, a “divorce” is just the legal term for the actual dissolution of a marriage; by itself, this may be a relatively straightforward process that can be completed after one year of separation. The more difficult issues are those that often accompany a separation—such as child custody and access, child and spousal support, and property division. If those can be resolved outside a courtroom, that will minimize the court’s involvement in your case. In many cases, the parties and their lawyers can negotiate a separation agreement, sometimes with added assistance via mediation or arbitration procedures.

I already have a lawyer working for me, but I’m not satisfied. Can I change my lawyer?

Of course you can. Divorce lawyers work for you, and if you aren’t satisfied, find a lawyer that can give you the confidence and peace of mind that comes with knowing your case is in good hands. It is always advisable to find the right lawyer as early as possible, however, since it will take your new lawyer some time to become familiar with the case.

How is property handled in divorce or separation cases?

If a separating or divorcing couple cannot reach a settlement through negotiation, then a judge will make the final determination. In Ontario, property is not strictly speaking, “divided.” You keep what you own. You are responsible for what you owe. Instead, under Ontario law, a full inventory is taken of each spouse’s assets and debts as at the date of separation and they are valued. Your lawyer can help you determine what constitutes your assets; the list may include real property, investments, pensions, businesses, etc. Once the financial information is compiled, each spouse’s net worth (“Net Family Property”) as of the date of separation is calculated, with certain adjustments. The person with the higher net worth makes a compensatory money payment to the person with the smaller net worth.

This scheme does not apply to separating common law spouses, however. It is often more difficult and less predictable to determine a common law couple’s rights and obligations regarding property issues. Relevant factors may include how the parties dealt with one another financially during the relationship, who has title to an asset, and who contributed money to purchase or maintain that asset. An experienced family lawyer can advise you as to your options regarding the end of a common law relationship.

How is child support calculated?

Canadian law provides standard guidelines for establishing a monthly amount of child support, based primarily on the income of the parent who will be providing the payments. In addition, certain specified “add-on” expenses such as day care, non-insured medical expenses and post-secondary expenses are shared between both parents according to their respective incomes. There are, however, certain exceptions that may increase or decrease the amount of child support owed. Your lawyer can help you understand the child support issues involved in your particular case. Likewise, if you find yourself needing to change your family’s existing child support arrangements to account for a change in your family’s circumstances (such as a change in a child’s needs or a change in a parent’s job or income), a lawyer can advise you about seeking revisions to an existing separation agreement or court order.

Morrison Reist Law Firm: Expertise and Dedication

The Morrison Reist Law Firm is committed to helping clients resolve their family law issues. From pre-nuptial agreements and marriage contracts to child custody and protection matters to separation and divorce issues, their goal is to obtain the best possible results for each individual client. With more than 30 years of experience in family law, Charles Morrison has built his legal practice on a combination of skill, compassion, professionalism, and dedication to his clients. Charles Morrison may be reached at 279 Queen St. South, Kitchener, Ontario N2G 1W4, or by calling (866) 878-5166.