You will find some of the most common questions that users of this site have about child support and spousal support below.
Being prepared in your family law file will save you time – and money.
The following posts let you know how you can do some of the background work to collect the appropriate information and documents when planning for a family law case.
Heath Campbell of Flemington, N.J., likes unusual names for his children.
Not just unusual, but what some would call provocative. Campbell has four children: Adolf Hitler Campbell, 7, JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell, 6, and, Honzlynn Jeannie Campbell, 5.
Campbell was in court today to determine whether he could visit his youngest son, Heinrich Hons, who is 2. The older siblings had been removed from the home over allegations of violence. Campbell attended the court in full Nazi regalia.
Campbell believes he is being targeted because of the children’s names and his beliefs, and denies the allegations of violence.
In recent years there have been significant changes in the demand for legal services. The rising costs of legal representation have made traditional legal services unaffordable for many litigants, and there has been a significant increase in the number of self-represented litigants (SRL) in Canadian courts. These changes have prompted lawyers to consider alternative methods of providing legal services, including offering unbundled services to their clients.
The legal magazine Law Times recently conducted a poll about unbundled services. More than 100 law firms participated in the survey, and the Law Times reported the following results.
- 55% of lawyers who offer unbundled services found that doing so has helped them to attract more business, while a third of those surveyed found that offering unbundled services did have a positive effect on business.
- Enthusiasm for unbundled services was mixed, even among lawyers who offered such services. Many lawyers reported concerns about liability and the risk of law suits. Others reported that unbundled services do not always make financial sense, and that the time spent on unbundled services often exceeds the compensation received from clients.
- A third of the lawyers who were surveyed practice in family law.
- There has been an increase in demand for unbundled services among family law litigants. Surveyed lawyers reported that a substantial number of family law clients are “unwilling to pay for full representation in litigation but want coaching instead.”
According to the Law Times, a number of lawyers consider the provision of unbundled services to be a way of promoting greater access to justice.
The National Self Represented Litigants Project, spearheaded by Prof. Julie Macfarlane of the University of Windsor Law School, has released its final report entitled “Identifying and Meeting the Need of Self-Represented Litigants”. The 150-page report includes findings based on interviews with several hundred self-represented litigants in Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario, and presents statistical data and recommendations relating to self-represented litigants in all three provinces. An executive summary of the report is available here.
The report’s findings include the following statistics about self-represented litigants (SRL):
- 30% – 38% of all litigants in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario are self-represented.
- 60% of all SRLs are involved in family law litigation.
- The majority of family law cases involving SRLs are heard in divorce court (Superior Court of Court of Queen’s Bench).
- 54% of SRLs who were interviewed reported that they had a lawyer at some point during their litigation.
- The most consistently reported reason for self-representation was financial constraint, and the majority of SRLs who were interviewed reported that they did not have a lawyer because they could not afford to pay legal fees.
- Many litigants reported that they became self-represented in the middle of their family law dispute because they ran out of funds and could not continue to pay a lawyer.
- Another frequently cited reason for self-representation was dissatisfaction with the legal services provided by lawyers.
Among the report’s main findings was that SRLs are seeking legal information and “guidance” rather than legal advice or “direction”m and that resources providing legal comprehensive legal information are not readily available.
My Support Calculator is working diligently to provide self-represented litigants with comprehensive information about family law. To learn more about family law and the legal process, visit: www.mysupportcalculator.ca/blog. For a free calculation of your own or your partner’s support obligations, visit www.mysupportcalculator.ca/Calculator.aspx.
Family law files involve a lot of preparation, and there’s plenty of information exchanged between the sides.
Having the proper documents are absolutely essential, especially if a case appears as if it is going to court. But finding the original documents can often be a time consuming a frustrating exercise because people often don’t know what you need until someone tells you to look for it.
If parties are using represented, the lawyers will typically keep the originals of many of these documents. They are required to care for these documents properly, and will return them at the conclusion of the file or the termination of the retainer agreement.
One important exception to this is the pieces of identification you provide, which will be copied and returned to you immediately. Identification requirements are quite routine, and should not be taken as a sign that the lawyer does not trust you or thinks you are pretending to be someone else.
Disclaimer: Although the checklist is very detailed, not all of the disclosure items listed will be necessary or relevant to your case. Furthermore, the checklist is not comprehensive and you may be required (or requested) to provide additional documentation that is not listed.
Any private information that you provide or receive in connection with your case should be used only for the purposes of resolving your family law case, and for no other purpose. Improper use of another person’s financial information may have legal consequences. This list has been compiled by My Support Calculator for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. You should always defer to a lawyer for legal advice.
Additional Documentation to Provide to Your Lawyer: Consider providing your lawyer with the additional information found in Information Required For Your Family Law Case. Ontario residents may also want to consider completing a draft Financial Statement: Draft 13.1 Financial Statement with Instructions (ON only)
One of the best ways that you can save money and keep your legal fees down is to be properly prepared. Family law cases can be complex and require a lot of information.
There are lots of documents that you can identify and locate when planning your family law file. But there’s also lots of questions and details that can come up during a file which help fill in the blanks.
In addition to obvious questions such as details about the parties, their relationship, and the children involved, the court or lawyers involved will also want to know employment information about you and your partner, detailed assets and liabilities, and information about the matrimonial home.
Bringing several pieces of identification for a meeting with a lawyer, and a chequebook, is usually a good idea. Identification requirements are common across Canada, and should not be considered an insult or a sign that the lawyer mistrusts you. A cheque may be needed to establish a retainer fee to establish the lawyer-client relationship, and the lawyer may want any existing child or spousal support payments to go through the lawyer’s office.
Filling out the following document will save you a considerable amount of time at a lawyer’s office, and should help the lawyer prepare for your file.
See list of documents to provide to your lawyer: Basic Documents Required For Your Family Law Case.
For Ontario residents, also complete a draft Financial Statement: Draft 13.1 Financial Statement with Instructions (ON only).
Only one parent can claim tax deductions like the children’s fitness credit (line 365), tuition transfer (line 324) or amount for an eligible dependent (line 305). During separation or divorce, parents need to communicate during tax season in order to ensure that both are not inadvertently claiming the same thing.
Some people try to claim legal fees under the Line 232 “Other deductions.”
All of these areas, if improperly addressed, could flag the attention of the CRA and lead to an audit.
Natalie Gregg, a family lawyer in Texas, wonders in the Huffington Post whether there’s a link between Viagra and breakdowns in family relationships:
If you aren’t having sex with your husband and yet your medication list at the pharmacy (or on your health insurance records) indicates that your spouse is taking erectile dysfunction pills such as Viagra, chances are he may be cheating.
Conversely, if you can’t keep up in the bedroom since your husband started taking Viagra, you are also at risk. Many fifty- and sixty-something couples are finding that this “sex enhancing” drug has made them sexually incompatible.
In Decaen v. Decaen, the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld a trial judgement granting sole custody of 8-year-old twins to a mother on the condition that she relocate from Mississauga, Ontario (where she was living) to Sudbury, Ontario (where the children were living).
The parties resided in Sudbury during the marriage and the mother was the primary caregiver of the children. After separation the mother moved to Mississauga with the parties’ 18 year-old daughter, but the father did not allow the twins move.
The mother applied for sole custody and an order allowing her to relocate the twins to Mississauga. The father applied for joint and shared custody and an order requiring the twins to remain in Sudbury.
The judge trial concluded that it would be in the children’s best interests to remain in Sudbury. He granted sole custody to the mother on the condition that she returns to Sudbury, and if the mother decided to remain in Mississauga the father would have sole custody. Both parents appealed.
Neither party objected to the relocation condition in the custody order; both parents argued that the order should be set aside entirely, and each parent sought the relief he/she originally asked for at trial. In a jointly-written decision by a 3-judge panel, the Court of Appeal dismissed both parents’ appeals and upheld the trial decision.
By deciding to uphold the trial judgement in Decaen, the Court of Appeal accepted (at least tacitly) that judges in Ontario can make custody orders that are conditional on a parent’s willingness to relocate, and this decision of the Court of Appeal is very noteworthy.
While section 16(10) of the Divorce Act empowers judges to “impose any terms, conditions, and restrictions” on custody orders that they see “fit and just”, case law indicates that judges rarely use this discretion when making custody orders. In mobility cases, judges do restrict a parent’s ability to move to another jurisdiction (by prohibiting that parent from relocating with a child to another jurisdiction. It is very uncommon to see orders that place a positive obligation on a parent to move to or from a jurisdiction as a prerequisite to being awarded custody of a child.
The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal has found that requiring a parent to relocate as a condition of custody is permitted but unusual, and such orders should only be made in rare circumstances when it is the children’s best interests (see Reeves v. Reeves and MacRae v. Hubley). In contrast, the British Columbia Court of Appeal found that courts “do not have the power to dictate where a parent must live, even if the result would be in furtherance of the best interests of the children.” (see Stav v. Stav).
The trial judge’s order in Decaen did not explicitly compel the mother to relocate to Sudbury, however in light of the mother’s interest in sole custody of the children, it could be argued that the actual effect of the order was compulsory from her perspective. It will be interesting to see how this decision will be used and interpreted in future mobility (and custody) cases in Ontario.
In addition to raising an interesting point of law about conditions of custody, the Court of Appeal’s decision contains a helpful analysis of mobility issues and helpful comments about the weight that should be accorded to children’s wishes in custody disputes. The mother in Decaen argued that the trial judge did not conduct a proper analysis of the children’s best interests with respect to mobility, and that he did not give sufficient weight to evidence that the children wished to relocate to Mississauga.
In finding that the trial judge properly conducted his analysis, the Court of Appeal cited the leading case on parental mobility, Gordon v. Goertz,  2 SCR 27:
 In Gordon v. Goertz, Justice McLachlin (as she then was), writing for the majority, identified a number of factors relevant to a child’s best interests in the context of possible relocation:
(a) the existing custody arrangement and relationship between the child and the custodial parent;
(b) the existing access arrangement and the relationship between the child and the access parent;
(c) the desirability of maximizing contact between the child and both parents;
(d) the views of the child;
(e) the custodial parent’s reason for moving, only in the exceptional case where it is relevant to that parent’s ability to meet the needs of the child;
(f) disruption to the child of a change in custody; and
(g) disruption to the child consequent on removal from family, schools, and the community he or she has come to know.
 At para. 50 of Gordon v. Goertz, McLachlin J. stated that, “[i]n the end, the importance of the child remaining with the parent to whose custody it has become accustomed in the new location must be weighed against the continuance of full contact with the child’s access parent, its extended family and its community.
In dismissing the mother’s argument with respect to the children’s wishes, the Court of Appeal listed the factors that are relevant to such a determination:
 In assessing the significance of a child’s wishes, the following are relevant:
(i) whether both parents are able to provide adequate care;
(ii) how clear and unambivalent the wishes are;
(iii) how informed the expression is;
(iv) the age of the child;
(v) the maturity level;
(vi) the strength of the wish;
(vii) the length of time the preference has been expressed for;
(ix) the influence of the parent(s) on the expressed wish or preference;
(x) the overall context; and
(xi) the circumstances of the preferences from the child’s point of view: See Bala, Nicholas; Talwar, Victoria; Harris, Joanna, “The Voice of Children in Canadian Family Law Cases”, (2005), 24 C.F.L.Q. 221.
It is apparent that the trial judge considered all of these relevant factors.