What to Expect When You Are Expecting – Court?

May 1st, 2024 by

Your court date is in a few days, and we understand that it can be very daunting. By now, you would have had a conversation with your lawyer about what the process is like. However, we also wanted to send you this list with regard to how to dress and act in court. The court is a formal process, and as such, there are rules that need to be followed. We also do not want to do anything that will annoy the judge or complicate your matter. So, here goes:

1. Please show up to court at least 30 minutes before the scheduled time if it is an in-person appearance. If it is on Zoom, please log in 15 minutes before the scheduled time.

2. Where to meet the lawyer differs from court to court, but it would be somewhere around the Family Law court, so ask for directions there; we will be waiting for you or will meet you there.

3. Regardless of whether the appearance is on Zoom or in person, please dress business casual.

4. Please do not slouch when you sit. The judge may think of this as carefree behaviour. We do not want to give this impression. Sit up straight.

5. Do not be alarmed if we refer to opposing counsel as “my friend.” It does not mean that we are actually friends. It is simply how lawyers refer to each other as outlined by the rules of professional conduct.

6. Do not be alarmed if we appear to have a good relationship with opposing counsel. This actually goes in your favour because the better the relationship between counsel, the better we can work together and be able to get you a favorable settlement.

7. Do not speak in the courtroom unless you are spoken to. You have your lawyer. They are your mouthpiece.

8. Do not speak to opposing counsel directly.

9. Do not speak to the opposing party directly.

10. If you have something to say to your lawyer during court, write it down and slide it over.

11. Follow your lawyer’s nonverbal cues. 12. If the judge speaks to you directly or asks a question, answer the question that has been asked and nothing more. If context is required, your lawyer will provide it. The more you speak, the more likely you are to say something that is not in your best interests. For example:

Judge: Mr. Smith, when was the last time you saw your daughter?

You: Your Honour, the last time I saw my daughter was 2 months ago.

That’s it. You need not say anything more.

13. Keep the facial expressions to a minimum. Do not roll your eyes, throw your hands up in the sky or anything like that. We get it; the other side is lying or does not provide enough context. However, you have us there for a reason. If we’re not saying anything, it is for strategic reasons. See you in court in a few days. You have got this!

How to manage Mother’s Day and your parenting arrangement

May 8th, 2020 by

With Mother’s Day around the corner, we know that the day does not always mean that all Mother’s are going to have their children on this day to celebrate their MOTHERHOOD.

Why not? Mothers are strong, hardworking, and compassionate. They should automatically get the children to themselves this day, right? Not exactly.

Usually, when parents separate, they negotiate a holiday schedule that would override the regular parenting schedule. Mother’s Day is a special day that can be included in the holiday schedule.

If you have a Separation Agreement, there is a good chance that you and your ex already agreed to who gets the children on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day regardless of who has he children that Sunday. Sometimes, court orders also stipulate that the children will spend Mother’s Day with Mom.

Absent a Separation Agreement or Court Order, it is up to your strong co-parenting skills to discuss this issue with your ex. It is fair enough to agree that the children will spend Mother’s Day and Father’s Day with each parent regardless of the regular schedule so that is it balanced. However, in certain circumstances, the other parent is not always willing to agree to this.

Aside from the obvious reasons of your ex refusing to allow you to have the children on Mother’s Day, such as being stubborn, vengeful, spiteful, safety concerns etc. Your ex might have a different mindset when it comes to Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. What if they think the day should be spent by yourself so that you can sleep in, go to the spa, read a book and just take it easy?

Maybe that is what they want for Father’s Day so they will not agree to allowing you to have the children for Mother’s Day so that you could have them on Father’s Day? This is definitely something unique and something that we have recently come across.

Your lawyers can also assist with any challenges you and your ex are having about the parenting schedule and holidays.  We can assist by conducting negotiations and setting out a framework for how Mother’s Day and Father’s Day shall be exercised each year and in certain circumstances, this issue is also litigated in the mix of many other issues.

It is important to address any potential issues that could arise with Mother’s Day in advance so that you can plan accordingly and avoid a stressful and time-sensitive negotiation with the other parent.

If you need any help with family law matters, contact our AP Law Firm in Scarborough, Pickering, Markham, and Toronto. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

Is your Separation Agreement as sturdy as you think it is?

May 6th, 2020 by

You always hear those stories about couples fighting for years in litigation. You always think, that cannot be me, I have a Separation Agreement to protect me. It is important to check and see if your Separation Agreement is as sturdy as you think it is.

In this blog, we will focus on the case of Virc v. Blair, 2017 ONCA 394. In this case, the husband was living with his soon to be second wife while waiting for his first marriage to be officially over by way of a divorce. Once that happened, the parties were married for 14 years and had three children before they separated.

They entered into a Separation Agreement and the wife waived getting independent legal advice. There are so many benefits to getting independent legal advice when entering into a Separation Agreement because it is the little things (and sometimes the big things) that slide by you. Having an experienced family law lawyer look over your Separation Agreement BEFORE signing could save you thousands in the long run. Unfortunately, the wife chose to waive her independent legal advice and trusted that the husband valued his assets, notably his date of marriage business assets, appropriately. The husband had a background in business valuations and the wife thought he knew was he was doing and would not mislead her.

If you need any help with family law matters, contact AP Family Lawyers Team in Markham, Pickering, Toronto, and Scarborough. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

The Ontario Court of Justice will remain closed for all Family Matters until JULY 6, 2020

May 5th, 2020 by

The Ontario Court of Justice (“OCJ”) just announced that they will continue to maintain their closure until July 6, 2020. Earlier, they had announced that they would reopen on May 29, 2020. However, with the pandemic in Ontario not seeing the improvement that we all had hoped for, this was a necessary decision for them to make.

This means that all regular scheduled court dates and trials will be rescheduled to be heard AFTER July 6, 2020. There are certain exceptions for matters that can proceed during this time and people who can attend the courthouse. Aside from the list mentioned below, everyone has been asked not to attend the courthouse and deal with matters themselves – unless it is urgent.

  1. Urgent Family (and Criminal) matters.
  2. Urgent and/or essential criminal intake court.
  3. Filing urgent court documents.
  4. Media

This will impact those who have pressing matters that may not meet the test of urgency by the court. It is important to remain calm during this time and to attempt to do everything else that could be done in your matter and take advantage of other alternative dispute resolution methods such as virtual mediation. Creativity is at its finest right now and if you need advice about how to manage your family matter during this time, AP Lawyers is open remotely to continue providing you service.

If you need any help with family law matters, contact AP Family Lawyers Services in Toronto, Pickering, Markham, and Scarborough. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

Leveraging Technology To Provide Quicker, Faster, Better Service At AP Lawyers

April 21st, 2020 by

As you may already know, at AP Lawyers, our values are:

1. Compassion

2. Convenience

3. Speed

4. Respect

5. Relentlessness

6. Honesty

7. Responsibility

8. Innovation

We always strive to model our actions as a firm, to be true to our values. We look at our values and reflect on how we can do things even better. For e.g. Innovation, Convenience & Respect led us to think, how can we leverage technology to provide faster more convenient legal services?

Using secure video technology, we were able to hold virtual settlement meetings by having our clients at our offices and the opposing party and their lawyers, miles away, and yet have very meaningful settlement talks with our clients feeling safer and more comfortable. We also eliminated commute time for the lawyers, thereby costing the clients less (remember, one of our values is being responsible with our client’s resources. So check that too).

We did this long before social distancing and Zoom became the trend.

We have 90-minute Q&A sessions over the phone to provide answers to specific legal questions our clients have in real-time, in the most convenient manner for them.

With telephone and video consultations, we are able to offer legal advice to clients in every corner of the globe, especially those looking to immigrate to Canada.

These are just a few ways AP Lawyers uses technology in delivering legal services to our clients. Every day, we continue to strive and find more ways to be quicker, faster, and better for our clients.

If you need any help with family law matters, contact our Professional AP Family Lawyers in Scarborough, Pickering, Markham, and Toronto. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

Anything but a Blue Monday – January 20, 2020

February 6th, 2020 by

When a few social media posts announced today as Blue Monday I must admit to not knowing what that meant. As with many things a quick internet search revealed that the concept was first published as part of a 2005 press release from holiday company which claimed to have calculated the date using an equation that takes into account weather conditions, debt level, time since Christmas, time since failing our new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels, and feeling of a need to take action.

In a subsequent article, the same author admitted that it was their intention “intention to make the day sound negative”, but rather “to inspire people to take action and make bold life decisions”. That being said, given the emotional roller coaster that many experiences after returning to work from time off during the holiday season, it is sometimes important to sit and evaluate our plans for the coming year. This may seem especially poignant as this is the beginning of a new decade.

“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” ― Alan Lakein, author

Instead of Blue Monday why don’t we consider it Planning Monday. A day after the excitement of the holiday activities, that we set aside to consider and formalize our plans the upcoming year and beyond. This would be a great time to consider your estate planning options.

We at AP Lawyers help clients with their Continuing Powers of Attorney for Property and Personal Care as well as their Last Will and Testament. Our team offers flexible evening hours that better fits into our client’s busy work schedule. Contact us today at (289) 892-4281 to book a quick consultation to speak with our Estate Planning Lawyer on how we may help turn your Blue Monday into a productive Planning Monday.

If you need any help with family law matters, contact AP Family Lawyers in Scarborough, Pickering, Markham, and Toronto. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

#APLawyers #NotABlueMonday #PlanningMonday #EstatePlanning #PowerOfAttorney #LastWillAndTestament

Flat-fee pricing comes to family law: Princewill

January 31st, 2020 by

Flat-fee packages can help family law litigants take control of their legal costs, says Toronto AP family lawyers. .

Princewill, principal of AP Lawyers, tells AdvocateDaily.com she and her team were determined to come up with some fresh options after hearing ordinary consumers’ concerns about traditional billing, especially as average fees escalate beyond the reach of many middle-class Canadians.

“The hourly billing model works for some people, but for many clients, it just causes uncertainty in terms of managing costs,” Princewill explains. “It’s not that they don’t want to pay. It’s that they’re anxious about how much involvement they will need from a lawyer and what it will end up costing them.”

Drawing on more than a decade of experience in family law matters, the firm has produced a suite of flat-fee services that allow consumers to build their own packages, ranging from 20-minute question-and-answer blocks for otherwise unrepresented parties, all the way to full-service representation — and everything in between.

“We tried to break down the entire process to put control back in the client’s hands,” Princewill says. “If you don’t want to retain a lawyer, but know you need help, then you can get whatever you need when you need it.

“And the important thing is you know right off the bat how much you will spend.”

She says some family law matters lend themselves better to flat-fee pricing than others. For example, she says the firm’s agreement drafting package — which includes an initial meeting by phone, Skype or in person and a signing appointment — was relatively straightforward.

Even with complex family circumstances, the amount of work it takes to construct separation or cohabitation agreements and marriage contracts falls within a relatively narrow range, she says.

Things get trickier in the notoriously unpredictable world of family law litigation, but Princewill says their tiered bundles are designed to appeal to parties at different stages of the process, and with varying appetites for legal help.

“Whatever you’re trying to do, we’ve got products that are geared to your needs,” she says. “You may end up buying more than one package as you work your way through, but there is a great deal more cost-certainty than an open-ended retainer.”

For example, clients can purchase an AP Gold Package for use when starting an application in court, responding to another person’s application, or preparing for settlement or case conferences. The package includes a thorough document review and assistance with drafting materials, as well as two meetings with a lawyer and three phone calls or email interactions.

“People come to meetings very focused and knowing what they need to do, which makes for much more effective use of time than you get in a simple consultation,” Princewill says. “We introduced the emails and phone calls because we noticed that people tended to have questions between the consultation and the drafting stages. Rather than booking multiple consultations or hiring a different lawyer, this lets clients run things quickly past someone who already knows their case.”

Clients can upgrade to the Silver Package which boosts the number of phone calls or email exchanges, or add court attendances by a lawyer if needed, she says.

Another set of packages offers various levels of preparation help for parties approaching their day in court.

“The format of a trial and the amount of documentation required can be extremely overwhelming for people,” Princewill says. “We’re proud to have come up with three different packages that are catered to different needs, so you don’t pay for anything more than you require.”

In the short time since the launch of the flat-fee packages, she says they have already proved a hit with new clients.

“People are calling up and requesting specific packages, as opposed to coming in with no idea of what to do,” Princewill says. “Based on the feedback, I’m sure more flat-fee services will be added to and tweaked over time, but we’re so excited by the way it’s being received.”

If you need any help with family law matters, contact AP Family Lawyers in Toronto, Pickering, Markham, and Scarborough. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

Plan summer visitation, travel in advance to avoid conflict

January 31st, 2020 by

Summer holidays can be stressful for separated parents, as custody agreements built around the schooling of children no longer work, but careful advance planning can help avoid conflicts, says Toronto family lawyer Angela Princewill.

“Parents don’t have much time to travel with their children during the school year, so when drawing up separation agreements, both sides really need to think about the summer months,” says Princewill, principal of AP Lawyers.

“You don’t want to create a schedule that just works for three seasons, then all of a sudden, it’s the summer, and you’re trying to change it,” she tells AdvocateDaily.com.

When developing a separation agreement, Princewill says she tries to anticipate what works best for the children, and then for the parents.

“There’s no one best plan to do any of this,” she says. “It’s really just making sure the children’s best interest is at the centre of everything.”

Many factors have to be considered, Princewill says, including the age of the children, what lifestyle they were accustomed to before the separation, and the practicality of the plan.

Noting that summer is a unique time in a young person’s life, she says parents need to be flexible in case something unanticipated comes up.

Princewell says the separation agreement should spell out the parents’ rights to take the children on vacation, as well as whether they need each other’s consent to take them out of the country.

“Even if your court-ordered separation agreement is silent on consent, it’s a good idea to get it in writing anyway — the last thing you want is to be stuck at an airport because you don’t have the permission of the other parent.”

If one parent has supervised access to the children, he or she will not be able to take them away for even a weekend, she says, adding that “everyone has to be realistic and work within the existing restrictions.”

Princewill says many agreements stipulate that the parents have to let each other know months in advance about their summer vacation plans with the children, but that part of the contract is often ignored.

“I see this happening quite often, as people forget about these provisions. Then comes August and there’s conflict,” she says.

For example, one parent may have already enrolled the children in a summer camp when the other parent was hoping to travel, says Princewill.

“If separated parents don’t give sufficient notice of their plans, the other parent may have registered the kids for other activities, and some of these registration costs are non-refundable,” she says.

Existing custody agreements may have to be modified in the summer, as there will not be after-school pickup in July and August, Princewill says.

“Conflicts arise when one parent doesn’t want the other to come to their home, so that has to be thought about in advance, with other arrangements in place.”

She says all these issues can be avoided by working with a family law lawyer on a comprehensive arrangement.

“When drawing up an agreement, make sure you review the terms and do everything to minimize conflict because the less conflict between the parents, the better it is for the children,” Princewill says.

If you need any help with family law matters, contact AP Family Law Firm in Scarborough, Pickering, Markham, and Toronto. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

Family must respect primary parent’s decision regarding religion

January 31st, 2020 by

Family members who don’t share the same religious beliefs should discuss their approach early on to avoid problems down the road when it comes to raising children, advises Toronto family lawyer Angela Princewill.

“While a family is together, the difference doesn’t matter as much. But upon separation, things change,” says Princewill.

She points to a recent British Columbia case as an example of how an issue can easily become complicated and costly. In A.R. and B.R. v. M.W. and L.R., 2015 BCPC 285 (CanLII), a mother who was raising her child on her own wanted the child to have access to her paternal grandparents.

But the grandparents, who were devout Jehovah Witnesses, insisted on taking the child to worship at the local Kingdom Hall – despite the mother’s requests for them not to – and exposing the child to church material. She had also repeatedly asked that they not have the girl address them as Poppa and Momma, preferring instead Grandma and Grandpa. But the issue of religion became a dominant theme in the breakdown of the relationship.

The situation had deteriorated to such a degree that the grandparents’ access to the child was reduced to supervised visits at the mother’s home. The grandparents petitioned the court for unsupervised visits but were ultimately unsuccessful.

Their son, the girl’s father, who had been “disfellowshipped” or excommunicated by the church, only visited his daughter and wasn’t involved in the child’s upbringing or paying support.

The grandparents had a high threshold to meet going into this case, says Princewill.

“Because they were neither the custodial guardians of the child, nor did they provide her with her primary residence, their chances of a successful outcome in court was very low,” she says.

Princewill says both the primary residence of the child and the decision-making powers involving the child are two important aspects in family law although they are two separate and distinct factors.

“Only the parent who has custody can make the decision,” she says. “At the end of the day, if they’re not the primary caregiver, they have to respect the wishes of the other parent. Without legal representation, the parties may overlook these types of details.”

When possible, having as many relatives involved in a child’s life as possible is in their best interest, says Princewill, especially in a situation such as this where the child is being raised by one parent.

Parties need legal representation to understand the importance of a custodial parent and the power they possess, adds Princewill.

“It’s more than just primary residence,” she says. “If parties don’t share religious beliefs, they may want to determine from the outset who has the final say so as to avoid litigation later.”

Judge Edna Ritchie’s decision in the B.C. case emphasizes the will of the parent – the primary caregiver – outweighs the desires of the grandparents, who are one step removed.

Ritchie denied the grandparents unsupervised access to the child and told them until they can comply with the mother’s requests, their access to the child will remain supervised.

“The applicants appear unwilling, and perhaps unable, to accept that they have no parenting responsibilities with respect to A.W. They lack insight into the consequences of their actions,” wrote the judge.

Princewill says the decision is a correct one because the mother, as the parent with custody, has the right to make important decisions for the child.

“It’s her responsibility to make those important decisions for child,” she says.

If you need any help with family law matters, contact AP Family Law Firm in Markham, Toronto, Pickering, and Scarborough. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

Plan ahead for flexible summer custody arrangements

January 31st, 2020 by

Recently separated parents should plan custody arrangements well in advance of summer holidays – especially if they require a court decision, says Toronto family lawyer Angela Princewill.

“If the child lives with one parent and gets to see you once a week, you don’t have to be stuck with that schedule,” Princewill, principal of A. Princewill Law Firm, tells AdvocateDaily.com.

Because children don’t have to stick to a school schedule during the summer, access can be more flexible, Princewill says.

“You can have a holiday schedule that overrides the regular day-to-day access arrangement,” she says.

For example, a parent who normally has the children only on weekends may want to keep them for longer, or take them away on a vacation.

“You’ll need to get travel consent from the other parent or schedule extra time as long as it doesn’t conflict with the other parent’s plans,” Princewill says.

Separated spouses are allowed to make changes to parenting arrangements without going back to court, as long as they can agree, she says.

“As long as the child’s safety is not a concern, parents aren’t bound by the letter of the court order,” Princewill says. “Courts prefer if parents can come to this agreement themselves, rather than go back through legal channels.”

If one parent is being unreasonable, court might be the only option. But that takes time to come to a resolution, Princewill says.

“Ideally, you want to get started on this several months in advance,” Princewill says. “Right now, with a good couple of months before the summer, it’s still possible.”

While all separated parents need to plan for the summer, newly separated parents may not realize that they can change the schedule.

Parents also need to figure out how summer plans might affect child support, she says.

“If you get the children for the whole month, how does that change what’s being paid out?” Princewill says. “And if you’re paying child support, you may need to pay extra in the summer to cover the cost of summer camp, for example.”

If parents are splitting the costs of a summer program, it’s not necessarily split 50/50.

“In many cases, splitting in half is fair – but the law says the split has to be proportionate to income,” Princewill says. “Maybe the other parent should be paying more. You want to make sure you have an accurate picture of the other parent’s income, by accessing their Notice of Assessment or T4 for last year, for example.”

And, any summer activities need to be “in accordance with the lifestyle the kids had when the parents were together,” Princewill says.

“For some families that means getting season’s passes for everywhere and going away on a vacation,” Princewill says. “For others, it might be one week of bible classes, as an example.”

If you need any help with family law matters, contact AP Family Lawyers Team in Markham, Toronto, Pickering, and Scarborough. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

Legal opinions support Canadian recognition of foreign divorce

January 31st, 2020 by

Individuals who were divorced in a foreign country and are hoping to remarry in Canada must consult with a lawyer to verify their divorce documents, says Toronto family lawyer Angela Princewill.

“We often prepare opinion letters for persons with foreign divorces or annulments,” says Princewill, principal of A. Princewill Law Firm. “It is imperative that you provide your lawyer with the correct facts — otherwise you could risk getting into a marriage that could be void.”

Princewill, who serves many family law clients from international backgrounds, says it’s more prudent to remedy any defects in the foreign divorce prior to obtaining a new marriage licence and remarrying.

A recent decision from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice brought such situations to light, when the court was asked to determine if a divorce obtained in Peru could be recognized for determining marital status in Canada.

In Wilson v Kovalev, 2016 ONSC 163 (CanLII), the couple, each of whom were born and raised in Peru, separated after living in Canada for six months. They obtained a divorce in Peru in 2009.

The ex-wife remarried two years later after getting a legal opinion about the Peruvian divorce. However, that opinion was found to have errors, according to the court decision. Her lawyer thought the woman’s former husband as still a resident of Peru and that they had been separated for at least one year at the time of the divorce — both untrue facts, the decision says.

So when the ex-husband attempted to get remarried in 2013, he found it difficult to find a legal opinion to verify the Peruvian divorce. He applied for a divorce in Ontario, though he preferred to have the original Peruvian divorce recognized.

In the end, Justice Deborah Chappel recognized the original Peruvian divorce as valid because the couple maintained strong connections to their native country.

“Although the parties’ connections to Canada have deepened since their separation, the real and substantial connection is not restricted to current connections to a country,” Chappel wrote.

“The links that existed when the divorce proceedings were commenced and when the divorce was granted are the most relevant to the analysis. I am satisfied that these parties were more closely connected to Peru than to Canada when they initiated their divorce proceedings in Peru and when the divorce decree was issued.”

Princewill says as long as separating parties seek legal advice and provide the correct information, they shouldn’t run into trouble having their divorce recognized in Canada.

“There is a presumption in favour of foreign divorces, so absent lack of notice, lack of jurisdiction by the authority that granted it, fraud, or denial of natural justice, the courts will more often than not order that the foreign divorce be recognized,” she says.

If you need any help with family law matters, contact AP Family Lawyers Services in Scarborough, Pickering, Markham, and Toronto. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

‘Corrosive’ tragedy fuels inlaw struggle for child access

January 31st, 2020 by

“Bad blood” between a parent and their in-laws should not prevent a child from seeing their extended family members, says Toronto family lawyer Angela Princewill.

Instead, angered family members should focus on the best interest of the child and the love they share for him or her, says Princewill, principal of A. Princewill Law Firm.

“I usually say, ‘We have a very lucky child here, and everyone is willing to go to such great lengths to be with him or her,’” she says. “I find it refocuses people.”

In Torabi v. Patterson, 2016 ONCJ 210 (CanLII), the judge describes a struggle between a father and the family of his deceased wife over accessing a child.

In an unusual situation, seven family members of the deceased wife — who died of cancer in 2014 — applied for access to the woman’s two-year-old child. They alleged the woman was mistreated by her husband prior to her death, allegations he denied.

“Tragedy can be as corrosive as the sturdiest acid, eating away at the bonds that hold families together,” Justice Marvin Kurz writes in his decision.

The relationship between the father and his wife’s family was riddled with conflict. While the father wanted only controlled access, the family argued for “predictable, stable and consistent” access.

While grandparents and extended family members are generally not guaranteed the right to see their grandchildren, Kurz outlines factors that constitute a “positive relationship” and may supersede the parent’s right to decide. Those factors include: a pre-existing relationship, a constructive relationship, and the exceptional circumstance of a child losing their parent.

In the end, the judge allowed some unsupervised access by the grandmother and a close aunt, a decision with which Princewill agrees.

“In the long run, the judge’s decision is balanced because it validates the father’s views and his concerns, but at the same time, tries to save the relationship the child could have with his late mother’s family,” she says.

The fact that the child’s mother died was likely the determining factor, she adds.

“If access was not allowed to the extended family, and then the grandmother were to die, the child would never get to know that part of himself.”

Princewill, who comments on the case generally, says she had never seen a case with so many family members trying to get court-ordered access to one child. She wonders why they wouldn’t exercise their right through the grandmother.

While she says she can relate to the frustrations of the father, they had nothing to do with the best interests of the child.

“The bad blood is really not enough to trump what the child would benefit from getting to know his mother’s side of the family,” she says.

“That’s the hard part of custody issues because both sides are motivated by the same things — and it’s important to refocus them, but it’s always tough.”

If you need any help with family law matters, contact AP experienced Lawyers in Pickering, Toronto, Markham, and Scarborough. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

Pets as property: creative solutions needed

January 31st, 2020 by

The law must evolve to consider the important role pets play in families and relationships, says Toronto family lawyer Angela Princewill.

As it stands, the law views pets strictly as property to be divided just as any other property from a marriage, says Princewill, principal of A. Princewill Law Firm.

Judges refuse to give pets the same treatment as children, shutting down motions to grant access and custody rights, as was the case in Henderson v Henderson, 2016 SKQB 282 (CanLII).

“I can appreciate why that could be frustrating for parties in some cases, however, it can also create equitable outcomes in others,” Princewill tells AdvocateDaily.com.

In one recent case, she represented a woman who had been a victim of abuse and had been forced out of the matrimonial home, leaving her beloved dogs behind.

“Because my client owned the dogs, she was able to get them back despite much resistance from her spouse,” says Princewill.

“This was a just outcome as it prevented extensive litigation on the issue. And if this were treated as a custody dispute versus a property issue, the result may not have been the same.”

Studies have shown there is a link between a woman’s decision to leave an abusive relationship and the fear of leaving her pets behind — which are often also subject to abuse. According to a 2000 study from the University of Southern Carolina-Spartenburg, 47 per cent of women surveyed said their abusers had either harmed or threatened to harm their pets. “Women continued to worry about the safety of their pets, especially given that many pets remained with the abusive partner,” the authors wrote.

In Henderson, Justice Richard Danyliuk took the firm stance that applications for possession of pets were a waste of court resources, considering the other important family law matters clogging up court dockets.

“But after all is said and done, a dog is a dog. At law it is property, a domesticated animal that is owned. At law it enjoys no familial rights,” he wrote.

While Danyliuk’s view has been predominant through family law decisions, at least one has given consideration to the role of pets in situations involving abuse.

In Grimalyuk v. Concelos, 2007 CanLII 1325 (ON SC), there were allegations of abuse, and the judge awarded full ownership of two dogs and a cat to the ex-wife.

Princewill says it’s important to consider whether the ability to gain possession of beloved pets will allow a woman to leave a dangerous situation.

“The law needs to evolve and we need to find new and better ways to deal with pets that take into consideration that even though they are property, they enjoy special status,” she says.

“As opposed to treating pets as just another piece of furniture owned by the parties, there are other approaches that could be adopted with some creativity.”

If you need any help with family law matters, contact AP Lawyers Team in Scarborough, Pickering, Markham, and Toronto. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

As household debt soars, financial strain can end a marriage

January 31st, 2020 by

Debt can often lead to the downfall of a marriage, says Toronto family lawyer Angela Princewill.

“It’s obvious in many cases this is the main reason for the breakdown of the relationship and while there may be other factors, they’re usually minor or more often, a direct result of the financial stress,” says Princewill, principal of A. Princewill Law Firm.

With household debt reaching record levels, it can only add further pressure to the strain of separation and divorce, she says.

Household debt as a share of income reached a new record in the fourth quarter of 2016, according to Statistics Canada, Reuters reports. On average, Canadians owed $1.67 for every dollar of disposable income and total household debt — including consumer credit, mortgages and other loans — totalled more than $2 trillion, the article says.

Princewill tells AdvocateDaily.com she has seen the effects of debt on a marriage countless times in her family law practice. Financial issues, if not addressed early on, often lead to lasting conflicts, she says.

“Can you imagine how hard it must be to choose between mortgage payments and braces for your child?” she asks.

Different spending patterns or habits can also cause friction in a relationship, such as when one spouse is a saver and the other a spender, Princewill says. Controlling behaviour is another troublesome sign.

This can lead to the spender feeling restrained by the saver and often because money, or the lack of it, is such a huge factor, it leaves one partner feeling overly controlled while the other thinks their partner is being irresponsible,” she says.

A sense of frustration can build if one person feels underappreciated, without restaurant outings, vacations or other leisure activities, while the other is “merely trying to manage the finances and wonders why the other can’t be sensible,” she says.

“It’s all so unfortunate, but the reality is debt can lead to the death of a relationship.”

If you need any help with family law matters, contact AP Lawyers in Markham, Toronto, Pickering, and Scarborough. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

Video recordings in family law could be grounds for a lawsuit

January 31st, 2020 by

There is a fine line between gathering evidence and invading privacy, says Toronto family lawyer Angela Princewill.

That was the hard lesson learned by a husband in a civil lawsuit that ended with a $15,000 damage award under the relatively new tort of “intrusion upon seclusion.”

In the case, the ex-husband admitted to planting a camera in a keychain in his ex-wife’s home that took photos in the bedroom and bathroom.

The man claimed the camera was meant to protect him against unfounded allegations of assault by his ex-wife. While she claimed $50,000 in damages due to the invasion of her privacy, he argued she suffered no loss because he never downloaded any of the images, according to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruling.

Princewill, principal of A. Princewill Law Firm, says the decision was balanced.

“There is definitely a place in family court proceedings for this tort and maybe it needs to be pleaded more often to deter this sort of behaviour,” Princewill tells AdvocateDaily.com.

She says in the age of smartphones, clients frequently record arguments and film children during access visits.

“While it may appear to be helpful on the surface, these recordings can be very unreliable given how easily they can be altered and taken out of context,” Princewill says.

“Family matters are very emotionally charged, and while most recordings would not qualify as invasion of privacy, once a person crosses the line for any reason, there should be consequences.”

In the end, the judge decided the husband’s explanation for planting the camera made “no sense.” He could have set up the camera in other rooms to safeguard him from false allegations as the bedroom and bathroom are “very private.” Although the photos did not depict anything explicit, “the potential to have done so was real.”

If you need any help with family law matters, contact AP Professional Lawyers in Pickering, Toronto, Markham, and Scarborough. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

The high cost of ‘nasty and aggressive’ custody battles

January 31st, 2020 by

The cost of going to court to decide custody issues goes well beyond the dollars spent on lawyers and experts, says Toronto family lawyer Angela Princewill.

“It’s never good for children to see their parents fighting it out in court,” says Princewill, principal of A. Princewill Law Firm.

“It’s far better for everyone involved if the parents try to work together through mediation to resolve their issues based on what’s best for the children,” she tells AdvocateDaily.com.

“The goal of mediation is to create something where both parents can be in the child’s life. Neither party may be elated about the arrangement, but at least it’s something that you agreed to, as opposed to rolling the dice and going before a judge who doesn’t know either parent or the family dynamics.”

And mediation is usually a much cheaper option than court, says Princewill.

recent decision by the Ontario Superior Court provides divorcing parents with a cautionary tale about how expensive it can be to battle in the courts. The couple spent nearly $800,000 in legal fees – and neither side got what it wanted.

In another Ontario case, a couple spent more than $500,000 on legal fees. They also received some harsh words from the judge.

In his decision, Justice Alex Pazaratz of the Superior Court of Ontario asked, “How did this happen? How does this keep happening? What will it take to convince angry parents that nasty and aggressive litigation never turns out well?”

After a 36-day trial, Pazaratz awarded sole custody of the eight-year-old daughter to the father, a Toronto Police officer. In his judgment on legal costs, his comments were scathing:

“These are nice, average people. Of modest means (now considerably more modest). They drive old cars and probably pinch pennies shopping at Costco. And yet somehow, between them, they spent more than half a million dollars on lawyers ‘to have a judge tell us something we could arrange ourselves.’

“No matter what costs order I make, the financial ruin cannot be undone. They’ll never recover. Their eight-year-old daughter’s future has been squandered.”

Pazaratz says the financial impact of such custody battles is “devastating. But so is the emotional impact.

“How, after an ordeal like this, are parents to communicate about their children’s issues? What messages do they send their daughter about each other?

“In this case, the father had asked the mother by email, early on, to try to work the issues out between them rather than going to court and spending $40,000 to $50,000 in lawyers. That didn’t happen.

“In the end, they spent ten times that much on the court process, and ended up with a result that they did not craft together, and where there is no buy-in from both parties.”

Princewill says she hears it from judges all the time – although maybe not as sharply worded as Pazaratz’s rebukes have been known to be.

“It’s rare that you would go in front of a judge that wouldn’t encourage you to move your custody and access dispute to some sort of alternate dispute resolution,” she says.

“Judges don’t want to deal with it. They don’t want to be the ones to have to say who a child will spend Wednesday nights with.”

She estimates at least 90 per cent of custody and access matters could be better handled in mediation, with the assistance of lawyers. Unlike the adversarial court system, mediators are trained to work with both sides and come up with an amicable solution.

Although “few and far between,” there are cases that are better dealt with by the justice system, says Princewill.

“I don’t see the value in mediating when I have a safety concern for the child or where there’s a power imbalance between the parents,” she says.

Sometimes those cases can be successfully resolved by mediators with special training and experience, says Princewill, but often they ultimately end up in front of a judge anyway.

Pazartz said the $500,000 case before him didn’t have an extraordinary set of facts – “Nothing we don’t see in family court every day.

“So why did we need a 36-day trial? Why did we need 20 witnesses, including teachers, a principal and vice-principal, CAS workers, a family doctor, and a custody/access assessor? Why did parents of modest means choose to impoverish themselves – and their daughter’s future – for a needlessly destructive three-year court battle?

“For the sake of the child? Not a chance. Custody trials are supposed to be about children. But 36 days – that speaks volumes about the parents,” wrote Pazaratz.

If you need any help with family law matters, contact AP Professional Lawyers in Toronto, Pickering, Markham, and Scarborough. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

Children first: practical tips for divorcing parents

January 31st, 2020 by

While divorcing parents may be able to bite their tongues about an ex’s shortcomings around their children, relatives and friends also need to be told to hold their comments, says Toronto family lawyer Angela Princewill.

There are many practical steps parents can take to ensure a split is less stressful on the children, but it is not solely their responsibility to keep the peace, she says.

“Don’t allow your relatives, neighbours or friends to say negative things about the other parent in front of the children,” Princewill tells AdvocateDaily.com.

“It’s not helpful on any level. There can be psychological consequences all around. They don’t need to know, for example, what their parent did that may have caused the separation.”

She says while there is no easy way to tell the children that you are splitting up, reassurance is key.

“Let the children know the breakup has nothing to do with them and that you love them unconditionally, says Princewill, principal of A. Princewill Law Firm.

“Tell them that things will be different, but everyone will be trying their best to make the transition as smooth as possible.”

Each parent must refrain from doing anything that might harm the kids during a divorce — putting on a united front is always best, she says.

It’s important that parents also have an understanding about visitations and custody, Princewill says.

“It just becomes easier to manage if parties agree on the amount of time each parent can spend with the children and where.”

For those former couples who want to remain actively involved in their children’s lives, Princewill says that after the initial anger between the parties, the new reality requires working together and creating balance.

One issue that needs to be addressed quickly is when a child says he or she doesn’t want to visit the other parent, she says.

“It can be heartbreaking, but studies have clearly shown that if a child has a relationship with both parents, it really benefits them.”

If there is some reluctance from one parent about taking the children to visit their father or mother, kids will sometimes feed off that, Princewill says.

“Children are more perceptive than we realize and maybe on some level when they say, ‘No I don’t want to go,’ a parent may indeed feel some relief. The children feel they are pleasing a parent by refusing to go. But if you insist, unless there is a safety concern, often the children will have a fantastic visit with the other parent,” she says.

A pitfall to avoid, Princewill says, is using a child as a courier or spy.

“Do not try to gain information from the children about what the other spouse is doing or to relay messages. You should be encouraged to ask your children what kinds of activities they did with the other parent, but there’s a fine line when it comes to prying,” she says.

Princewill says most of her clients don’t need to go before the courts, preferring to work it out.

“They need to try to negotiate with the other person, but sometimes litigation is the only option.”

She says if a dispute does reach litigation, the courts can help both parties realize what is best for the kids.

Princewill also has a list of recommendations she gives to her clients so they remember to keep kids first in the divorce process, she says.

That includes not giving control to a child who can then dictate their terms to divorcing parents.

“The other parent may be far from perfect, but you are the adult. Don’t let a child run the show,” she says.

A child shouldn’t be the one deciding where he or she wants to live, Princewill says.

However, keeping children in the same comfortable surroundings and at the same school can help them deal better with the divorce, she says.

“There are already enough changes in their lives. Staying in the same household and at the same school can reduce the amount of disruption.”

If you need any help with family law matters, contact AP Family Lawyers in Scarborough, Pickering, Markham, and Toronto. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

Unique issues involved when older couples divorce

January 31st, 2020 by

A marriage breakup later in life — known as a grey divorce — isn’t uncommon these days, but it does require some knowledge to successfully navigate the process, says Toronto family lawyer Angela Princewill.

“Some of the issues that come to bear with younger couples are the same in grey divorces but they can affect older people more acutely,” says Princewill, principal of A. Princewill Law Firm.

“The retirement dream that’s been planned has fallen apart. There’s not much time left for recovery. Each issue can become critical,” she tells AdvocateDaily.com.

One of the parties may have to tend to finances for the first time and learn how to invest money. He or she may also need to find a job later in life, says Princewill.

In a grey divorce, pension becomes a major issue, she says.

“Two people living together is cheaper than one. Now, retirement income will have to be divided. The couple may have a well-funded pension, but when they have to split it before retirement, they don’t have the same expected income and it can create financial hardships.”

Princewill recommends talking to a financial adviser before agreeing to a lump sum settlement.

“One of the spouses could potentially receive a large sum of money. How does that fund your retirement years if you don’t have your own pension?”

It may look like a great deal of money but unfortunately, she says, some of her clients have mismanaged that lump sum.

“You have to make sure you can grow that money. Put it to work for you in some way.”

As well, the person paying out an asset to the other may still need to provide spousal support. However, when there’s only the pension income to draw upon, the spousal payments will stop, she explains.

“You can’t collect on the pension as an asset and then turn around and collect on it as income. Financial planning is critical,” says Princewill.

Another item to negotiate during a grey divorce is life insurance. If one party is still making support payments, then he or she should always have life insurance, she says.

“In many cases with this type of divorce, the couple has paid for life insurance together so we would negotiate the ex-spouse remaining as the beneficiary on life insurance for as long as possible.”

But it can become problematic when spousal support is no longer being paid or one party has another partner and wants to put their new spouse as the insurance beneficiary, says Princewill.

“You need to be creative to find a way that works for all involved. It could be that one of the parties gets another life insurance policy or it’s restructured so that a portion of it goes to one person and the balance to another.”

Princewill says another issue that is always top of mind in grey divorces is health benefits. “That also requires creativity and co-operation on our part.”

She says if one party wants to re-marry and the health benefits go to the new spouse, that could be a significant loss to the ex-spouse. “It can add up if you have to pay for prescriptions out of pocket.”

It could hold up a divorce, she says, so buying insurance for the person losing the benefits or increasing spousal support could solve the issue.

In a divorce involving older couples, Princewill says planned burial locations may need to be altered as well.

“If a couple has applied for side-by-side spots in a cemetery, that will likely have to be changed. It’s something we wouldn’t encounter with younger couples divorcing,” she says.

“When facing a grey divorce, different conditions come into play so people usually need some help to deal with them.”

If you need any help with family law matters, contact AP Family Lawyers in Toronto, Pickering, Markham, and Scarborough. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

Equal shared parenting would level playing field

January 31st, 2020 by

A private members bill that would establish equal shared parenting as the default position in custody disputes would help even the playing field — especially for fathers, Toronto family lawyer Angela Princewill tells Law Times.

Princewill, principal of A. Princewill Law Firm, welcomes the introduction of an equal parenting presumption.

“I don’t think it would be worse than the current system that we try to successfully navigate,” she says in the publication. “One of the strategies we see is to create a new status quo and leave the other parent fighting to explain why they should get 50-50. Someone is coming from the defence all the time.”

The article reports that Bill C-560, which was originally defeated in 2014, is being redrafted. It says the groups supporting the move to introduce an amended bill have also identified some members of Parliament and the Ontario provincial legislature to act as sponsors.

The legal news outlet also cites a poll, commissioned by the Canadian Association for Equality, that found that 35 per cent of Canadians strongly support the creation of a presumption of equal parenting in child custody cases in federal and provincial legislation, 35 per cent somewhat support it, nine per cent somewhat oppose it and four per cent strongly oppose it, according to the article.

While she supports a presumption of equal parenting, Princewill doesn’t believe it should apply to children who are breastfeeding.

She also says it will not take away the best interests test.

“It’s still there to deal with certain cases, but it puts the other person to a stricter test to prove it’s not appropriate. It will even the playing field, mostly for fathers,” she tells the paper. “Urgent motions are also available to deal with those cases where there are special needs.”

If you need any help with family law matters, contact AP Family Law Firm in Markham, Pickering, Toronto, and Scarborough. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

Why January is so busy for family lawyers

January 31st, 2020 by

Many couples consider splitting up during the month of January and talking to a lawyer can help people wade through this stressful and confusing period in their life, says Toronto family lawyer Angela Princewill.

There are several reasons why January is the busiest month for family lawyers, says Princewill, principal of AP Lawyers.

The holidays can add stress to an already troubled relationship, she tells AvocateDaily.com. Some couples may have already decided to break up, but want to avoid telling people at a time when everything is supposed to be merry.

“It’s also a new year and some will view this as a time to move on with their lives by separating or signing divorce papers,” she says.

Princewill says she traditionally has more bookings for consultations in January than any other month and her role is to help clients sort through the issues.

“Separation is not easy. It can be overwhelming and emotionally draining for those involved. When they talk to lawyers, they realize all that is involved, especially if there are children,” she says.

“Some of these couples will take no action and others will follow through on plans to start divorce proceedings.”

Princewill says money is sometimes a factor in whether couples will divorce.

“When you come for a consultation, you need to hear the truth. Your lifestyle is not going to be the same. We need to explain finances to them. For example, your pension will be lower and the matrimonial home may need to be sold. We do support calculations with them,” she says.

Others may be past the point of trying to work things out, Princewill says.

“For some, they just can’t stay in the relationship any longer. The holiday was the breaking point. They want to get started on the process right away.”

Princewill says many of her clients ask for her opinion on whether they should divorce, but that is not her role.

“I let them know I am not in their shoes. It doesn’t matter what I think. I cannot make that call.”

She will suggest counseling if partners are struggling with indecision. “If that’s an option, a couple may want to give that a try. We’ve had clients who have reconciled after putting a separation agreement in place,” she says.

However, if there is abuse in the relationship, Princewill says she advises the abused party to find a safe place to stay right away and seek help from support services.

She says clients may need to proceed quickly if it’s believed one partner is hiding assets. “I tell them, ‘Let’s get a separation agreement. Let’s get assets equalized.’”

Creating a separation agreement as amicably as possible is the goal, Princewill says. “It’s less emotionally draining if parties can be cordial. You don’t need the drama and you want to reach a settlement.”

She says it’s also less expensive. “The less you fight about it, the better.”

But cordiality isn’t always possible and there are cases where divorcing couples cannot agree on anything, Princewill says.

“Mediation would be the next step and for some, only litigation will resolve outstanding issues.”

The last piece of advice Princewill has for her clients who are divorcing is not to second-guess themselves.

“Some say, ‘I should have left five years ago.’ Well, you’re here now and if you wait another five years, it may only get worse.’”

If you need any help with family law matters, contact our AP Law Firm in Pickering, Toronto, Markham, and Scarborough. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

Married vs. common-law rights after a breakup

January 31st, 2020 by

When relationships break down, common-law spouses don’t have the same rights as married couples, Toronto family lawyer Angela Princewill tells AdvocateDaily.com.

“There are a number of differences, but the important ones would be the way parties are treated when it comes to dealing with the family residence, pensions and spousal support,” says Princewill, founding partner of AP Lawyers.

A family residence is only considered a “matrimonial home” when the couple is married and that designation gives it a “special quality” under Ontario’s Family Law Act, which makes dividing the asset easier, she says.

“Frequently, common-law spouses think their residence is a matrimonial home because they’ve been in a long-term relationship. But that’s not correct. The length of your relationship doesn’t matter. If the couple is not married, the family residence at the time of separation is not a matrimonial home,” says Princewill.

In the case of married couples, even if only one spouse has a job and pays all the expenses, both have equal rights to remain in the matrimonial home upon separation, and the property, with few exceptions, is divided equally, she explains.

“It’s straight-up equalization.”

The same is true if one spouse entered the marriage with the property and title was never put in both spouses’ names. “It’s the matrimonial home and there’s an expectation that it would get equalized,” she adds.

Common-law spouses don’t get the benefit of equalization under the Act and so “everything is based on title,” Princewill says.

“If it’s a jointly owned property, then it will be shared. It’s based on who owns what and it doesn’t just apply to the family residence; it would apply to everything else they own. That could be unfair because if one person has an income outside the home and the other person stays home, you can see how just going by title isn’t fair.

“The presumption of the law is that if you’re common-law, what’s in your name is yours and what’s in the other person’s name is theirs,” says Princewill.

The courts deal with that unfairness through a constructive trust claim, “which is an equitable remedy that tries to correct the imbalance,” she says, adding that various tests based on the principles of unjust enrichment have to be met and the process can be complicated.

“When you make a trust claim, you may be able to get half of the other person’s property, or you may be entitled to less than 10 per cent. It really becomes fact-based and the courts try to balance any unfairness they see,” she says.

“It’s usually a result of one person getting more benefits out of the relationship, while the other person contributes in ways that are not quantified financially.”

After the family residence, a pension can be the next big asset that needs to be dealt with when a relationship breaks down — and it’s handled the same way as the house, Princewill says.

“For a married person, a pension is property that needs to be equalized. It doesn’t matter if one spouse never worked a day during the marriage. If the relationship is over, half of that pension belongs to one spouse and half belongs to the other, subject to exceptions,” she says.

For example, if one spouse worked and paid into a pension for 10 years before the marriage and then worked another 20 years before the breakup, the pension would be divided based on the 20 years of marriage, she says.

Common-law spouses have to bring a constructive trust claim to obtain any of that asset, “and they have to prove they specifically contributed to the other party acquiring that pension,” says Princewill.

It’s not enough for one to argue that they contributed to the pension indirectly by staying home and raising the couple’s children, she says.

“That argument might work for the family residence, but not for a pension, although it doesn’t preclude it. There are times when the courts have made that order.”

Both the federal Divorce Act and the Family Law Act cover spousal support for married couples, while only provincial legislation applies to common-law couples, Princewill says.

Provincial legislation “really limits support for common-law spouses to need — although judges have found a way around it,” she says.

“But for those who are married, support under federal legislation could be based on need, compensation for whatever you contributed, losses that you’ve suffered, or any disadvantage as a result of the marriage.”

Co-habitation agreement: an uncomfortable but necessary conversation

January 31st, 2020 by

People in a committed common-law relationship should have a cohabitation agreement to protect their interests in case the relationship ends, says Toronto family lawyer Angela Princewill.

Love is the glue that keeps a couple together but it’s also important to set the parameters of what happens if the relationship falls apart, says Princewill, principal of AP Lawyers.

“There’s usually someone who is dissatisfied with the consequences of the breakdown of a relationship,” she tells AdvocateDaily.com.

“So, when things go wrong, it’s always nice to have the parameters already set and that certainty of outcome.”

And if a relationship does last, it shouldn’t be affected by having a cohabitation agreement in place, she says.

Common-law couples don’t have the same rights as those who are legally married, explains Princewill.

“People often think of marriage in terms of love and as a commitment to each other, but it’s mostly a contract,” she says. “With common-law unions, you don’t have that formal covenant.”

Princewill says a marriage automatically entitles each partner to certain rights should the relationship dissolve, particularly in the equalization of property acquired after wedlock as outlined in the Family Law Act.

But in a common-law relationship, after three years in Ontario or if the committed couple has a child, access to assets is not guaranteed unless there is a cohabitation document or possibly a claim of unjust enrichment. Without an agreement, each person is generally entitled to the assets and property in their name. If both names are on specific property or assets, then it’s divided evenly during separation.

Matrimonial homes are also treated differently, says Princewill. Each spouse has an equal right to the residential property, whereas whoever is named on the title has control of the home in a common-law relationship.

Cohabitation agreements for couples who are living together are the same as marriage contracts or prenuptial agreements, says Princewill.

“I like to think of marriage contracts and cohabitation agreements as life’s insurance policies. I tell that to every person who comes through my office,” she says.

“Many people still get uncomfortable with the idea of an agreement in such formal terms but if you’re fine with insurance, you should be equally as comfortable getting a cohabitation agreement,” Princewill says.

“You can develop a great relationship, but if things don’t turn out you know what the outcome will be because you decided that at the start of the relationship,” she says.

Princewill acknowledges that discussing such things isn’t easy for some people.

“Society has not evolved to that point yet, but it’s far more common than it used to be,” she says. “I know we’re approaching a time when people can have that talk at the beginning of a marriage or relationship, but for now it remains a difficult conversation.”

Generally, the only item left out of a cohabitation agreement is the custody and access of the children, Princewill says.

“We don’t want to predetermine who gets custody of the children,” she says.

Arrangements must be done with the best interests of the children in mind, Princewill says, and that can change throughout the course of the relationship.

“I love doing marriage contracts and cohabitation agreements because it’s great to see people deciding what they want,” Princewill says.

These contracts can be crafted in ways to share, protect and divide assets as the couple sees fit, she says.

“I love the creativity it allows rather than dealing with a separation when there’s no agreement because we’re confined to what the law tells us to do.”

Princewill says these pacts are not about “short-changing anyone or cheating anyone,” it’s about defining and enjoying the relationship.

If you need any help with family law matters, contact AP Family Lawyers Team in Scarborough, Pickering, Markham, and Toronto. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

Divorce Act changes a ‘step in the right direction’

January 31st, 2020 by

Toronto family lawyer Angela Princewill says small tweaks to terminology in an updated Divorce Act will make a big difference to members of the family law bar.

Bill C-78, introduced in the House of Commons in May, marks the first major update to federal family laws in more than two decades and outlines the federal government’s intention to replace terms including “custody” and “access” with more child-focused ones such as “parenting orders” and “parenting time.”

Princewill, principal of AP Lawyers, tells AdvocateDaily.com that the old approach was confusing to clients and encouraged parties to view the process as more of a “win-lose power struggle.”

“I can’t tell you how many times a day I have to explain the meaning of custody and how it won’t affect their time with the child,” she says. “This terminology sounds more natural and is going to make our jobs as family lawyers so much easier.

“I’m hoping it will bring a little more common sense into the process for people who get stuck on the words, but I’m not overly optimistic on that one,” Princewill adds.

She says the bill’s promise to establish guidelines for planned relocations after divorce, which would force parents to give notice of their intention to move and clarify who bears the burden of proof in particular sets of circumstances, will also help family lawyers give better advice to their clients in such cases.

Until now, she says the only guidance judges and lawyers had was from an old Supreme Court of Canada decision, which has been interpreted in many different ways since it was decided 22 years ago.

“These guidelines are going to give a bit more structure to relocation, which are some of the toughest cases we deal with,” Princewill says.

The new act also enumerates a non-exhaustive list of the factors that will go into a determination of what is in the best interest of the child — a move Princewill says brings the federal laws into line with some provincial legislation.

“In Ontario, we see much of the same things in the Children’s Law Reform Act, so it’s not a radical change, but it’s nice to have the whole family bar working from the same page,” she says.

“Separation and divorce impact the lives of millions of Canadians and can be challenging for families, especially for children. That is why this bill focuses on putting the best interests of the child first, reducing conflict, addressing family violence, and encouraging parents and former spouses to meet their family support obligations,” Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould said in a statement announcing the proposed legislation.

The bill also encourages parties to stay out of court and enhances family support enforcement, says Princewill.

“Overall, it’s a step in the right direction,” she says.

If you need any help with family law matters, contact AP experienced family lawyers in Markham, Toronto, Pickering, and Scarborough. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

Owner of Amazon, Jeff Bezos could be looking at an expensive divorce!

January 10th, 2019 by

Everyone is talking about the owner of Amazon, Jeff Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, who are getting divorced after a 25 year long marriage.

As sad as we are to hear this, life happens! What does this mean for Amazon shareholders? We do not have a clue, we are family law lawyers! What could the end of a 25-year marriage to the wealthiest man in the world look like? One word – expensive.

Amazon is currently one of the world’s most beneficial companies. It took shopping convenience to a new level in my opinion. Everything you need and do not need is on Amazon!

The major question everyone has is – did the couple have a Marriage Contract (aka Prenuptial Agreement)? Usually, couples only enter into a marriage contract when they have something to protect. When Jeff and MacKenzie were married, Amazon did not exist. Having said that, nothing could have stopped them from entering into one after marriage. Yes, that is a thing!

If you did not get a marriage contract when you got married, it is not too late. It is a common misconception that you only need a marriage contract when you have something to protect. You intend to get married and grow with your spouse, right? Why not protect yourself before it even happens because you never know when it is too late.

Aside from the Marriage Contract debate that is all over the internet – under Ontario Family Law, a marriage of 20+ years is a sensitive territory. It opens up the spousal support argument for a lifetime! According to the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines, spousal support could be an indefinite obligation. The same thing occurs if a marriage was only 5 years or longer AND the age of the recipient plus the years of marriage add up to 65 (i.e. Marriage of 7 years and the recipient was 58). This is known as the Rule of 65 under the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines.

The couple had 4 children and their eldest child was born in 2000. This also opens up the child custody, access and support issues. Who gets the kids? Who pays who child support? How will the custody and access arrangements work out?

Now, we don’t know yet if MacKenzie is claiming any type of support from Jeff, if there is an Agreement in place and if it will get messy. We only wish them well. We will follow their divorce proceedings to see what happens.

If you need any help with family law matters, contact AP Family Law Firm in Toronto, Pickering, Markham, and Scarborough. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

6 Tips to overcome the Legal Bully in your Divorce

January 8th, 2019 by

Legal bullies come in a variety of forms. The most popular ones take advantage of the legal system, try to control/ intimidate you by using the system against you, exhausting your legal funds, use your children against you, contradict everything (even when it’s not important!), make you feel like you are not entitled to certain relief or just intimidate you from doing anything bold.

TIPS

  1. IT’S NOT FOREVER – Know that your bully is the reason why you are here in the first place. Remember that sooner or later, you will be free of he/she and can put it all behind you. So, give it your all and do not be scared.
  2. YOU ARE ENTITLED- Whether it is spousal support, equalization, the gardening tools or even the treadmill in the matrimonial home! If you are entitled to it, then do not quit. You’ll regret walking away later on.
  3. KNOW WHEN TO BACK DOWN- Sometimes, the legal bully just wants a fight. Do you? It’s not always about what is fair or not but it’s about compromise and sometimes ignoring it. It’s not worth playing their dirty tricks or their moves if it won’t benefit you down the line. You need to pick and choose your battle.
  4. HAVE A SUPPORT SYSTEM – Family, friends, co-workers. Anyone you can talk to freely and who is guiding you correctly. DO NOT listen to the ones who are encouraging the high conflict. It’s not worth it.
  5. GET A LAWYER- If you are doing this by yourself, it will be easy for the legal bully to take advantage of you. Get a strong family law lawyer to protect your interests and peace of mind.
  6. KNOW WHERE THEY ARE COMING FROM – A legal bully has some sort of unresolved issues. They are insecure, scared and sometimes angry that you chose to respect yourself. By trying to regain control of you somehow, they get pleasure out of it. Why should they?

Let us help you! We deal with lots of legal bullies, in many forms. Our family law lawyers can instill the confidence in you that you are lacking for getting through your family law matter. Our Google reviews are proof of that. All it takes to get started is a consultation!

If you need any help with family law matters, contact AP Family Law Lawyers Services in Scarborough, Pickering, Markham, and Toronto. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

Permanent resident travel document

November 20th, 2018 by

A Permanent Resident Travel Document (PRTD) is an official document issued by a Canadian visa office abroad, that allows permanent residents of Canada to travel back to Canada on a commercial carrier (by air, land or sea). You can apply for a PRTD if you:

  • Are a permanent resident;
  • Do not have a valid PR card showing your PR status;
  • Are outside Canada; and
  • Will return to Canada by airplane, boat, train or bus.

When applying for your PRTD, you will need to show that you have met the requirements to remain a permanent resident. You must also submit a separate application with all of the correct fees for each person in your family who will need a travel document, regardless of their age.

If you need any help with family law matters, contact AP Law Firm in Pickering, Toronto, Markham, and Scarborough. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

2018 Top Choice Awards Gala

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AP Lawyers 2018 Top Choice Awards Highlight

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February 3rd, 2018 by

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Anisa Dattu’s Top 5 Tips when Applying for a Post Graduate Work Permit

January 24th, 2018 by
  1. Get it in early- Many people believe that their application is due 90 days from the date of their graduation ceremony. However, the application is due within 90 days of receiving written confirmation that you have completed your program (i.e. your transcript, diploma, degree, a letter etc.)
  2. Pay the right fee – When applying for your PGWP, many people forget that there are two different payments to be made, there is a Standard Work Permit fee along with the Open Work Permit Holder Fee.
  3. Include the appropriate documents – For a PGWP you need to include your final transcript, or letter confirming graduation and/or a formal letter from your institution confirming that you completed your program.
  4. Program length – Prior to applying for you PGWP, make sure that your program was full-time and at least eight months long or longer. If it was not, you are not eligible.
  5. Plan accordingly – Do you want to visit home or travel after your studies? No problem! Just make sure that you apply within 90 days either from inside Canada or from abroad, as there are different requirements for either or, so it’s best to plan accordingly.

If you need any help with family law matters, contact our AP Lawyers in Scarborough, Pickering, Markham, and Toronto. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

Awareness needed of parental alienation: Princewill

January 15th, 2018 by

A new World Health Organization (WHO) designation could help raise much-needed awareness of the issue of parental alienation, says Toronto family lawyer Angela Princewill.

According to CTV News, for the first time, the WHO recently proposed to add the phenomenon — which involves one parent systematically turning their children against the other — to its accredited list of diseases and related health problems.

Princewill, principal of AP Lawyers, tells AdvocateDaily.com that various degrees of alienation is a sadly common feature in her family-law files.

“By classifying it in this way, I think it can help raise awareness of parental alienation, not just to lawyers and judges, but also to parents,” she says.

While lawyers and their family-law clients are often quick to advance allegations of alienation against former partners, Princewill says they should also be on the watch for troublesome behaviour on their own side.

“It’s easy to spot the red flags when your client is the one apparently being rejected by their children, but you should also be cautioning clients who are displaying warning signs of alienating behaviour,” she says.

For instance, in particularly bitter custody disputes, Princewill says oversharing details of litigation with children can quickly escalate.

“If you’ve got a child-support matter where the family is struggling, you might find that the recipient parent tells the child that they can’t go swimming or do whatever else because the other parent won’t pay for it,” she says. “I can understand why you might want to say that, but what can happen is that the child becomes less willing to go with the other parent. If it continues, things can build up to the point where the child wants nothing to do with the other parent, which is very sad to see.

“Parents say they want their children to be informed about what’s going on, but I don’t think a 10- or 12-year-old needs to know every little detail about the court process. Sometimes there’s value in sheltering your children from all that.”

The CTV news story says WHO members voted on formal recognition of parental alienation at a conference in May to mark the organization’s 11th revision of its International Classification of Diseases.

The article cites research labelling parental alienation an “unacknowledged form of family violence” with long-term mental health consequences for children on the receiving end of it, including “anxiety, lowered self-esteem and general quality of life,” and provides a list of some red flags that suggest it may be occurring:

  • Rejection and denigration of a parent for trivial reasons
  • Rigid refusal to consider alternative views
  • Repetition of the favoured parent’s words
  • Rehearsed script
  • Relatives are included in the rejection (even pets)
  • Absence of guilt or regret over behaviour towards the rejected parent

If you need any help with family law matters, contact AP Family Law Firm in Markham, Pickering, Toronto, and Scarborough. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

Dealing with self-reps tricky for family lawyers

January 10th, 2018 by

Extra costs are hard to avoid when the opposing party has no legal representation, Toronto family lawyer Angela Princewill tells AdvocateDaily.com.

According to Justice Canada, provincial statistics suggest that somewhere between 64 and 74 per cent of parties are unrepresented at the time a family law application or action is filed with the court. That number falls slightly, to between 40 and 57 per cent, by the time they make an appearance in court.

“It comes up more often than I would like,” says Princewill, principal of AP Lawyers. “We try to be mindful of costs, but ultimately these things end up making it more expensive for your client.”

Although it may seem counter-intuitive to some, she says having legal representation on both sides is likely to reduce the conflict in a file due to a shared knowledge of the law and common professional courtesies that are difficult to replicate with self-represented parties.

“People think lawyers are going to be fighting with one another and boosting costs, but in reality, most lawyers know what to fight over and what not to,” Princewill says. “When a party is acting for themselves, there’s a lack of trust for the lawyer on the opposite side, and they might feel like they’re being taken advantage of, so you end up arguing over little things.

“It’s harder to get consent for late filing or to have a quick phone call because they have jobs. Instead, it can take days while you wait for them to pick up voicemail and get back to you,” she adds.

While few studies are available on the pressures and costs imposed on the justice system by self-represented parties, the Justice Canada report notes that judges and court staff report that their unfamiliarity with the rules and procedures of family court often requires extra time for explanations.

Princewill says some of those duties inevitably fall on the lawyers involved on the opposing side of the matter, but she always treads carefully since any attempt to explain the law to the other party comes with its own risks.

“You can’t push it too hard because you want to make sure it’s clear that you are not there to represent their interests. You’re there for your client alone. It’s a fine line to tread between trying to help and not offering advice,” she says.

Still, there are certain steps that she takes when dealing with self-reps to keep things running smoothly. For example, she tries to keep communications with the other party in writing as much as possible.

“It helps limit the number of misunderstandings and can be useful for them to be able to go back and have a reference. When correspondence is in writing, you’re more articulate and it tends to more clearly convey what everyone is trying to accomplish,” says Princewill.

“It’s not always easy to work with self-reps,” she says. “But, with lots of patience, you can deal with the challenges and help your client reach a final resolution.”

Vesting orders helpful in divorce cases: Princewill

January 10th, 2018 by

Vesting orders can be valuable in divorce cases, especially in the hands of an experienced lawyer who knows how to properly use them, Toronto family lawyer Angela Princewill tells AdvocateDaily.com.

“When you’re working for a client and trying to get what they’re entitled to under the law, every tool becomes critically important,” says Princewill, principal of AP Lawyers.

She says vesting orders allow the court to transfer the ownership of a property from one party to another.

“In family law, they are most commonly used when equalization and support payments are issues,” she says, “or if someone is not very co-operative.”

She gives the example of a couple that has separated, with the man ordered to pay support to the wife. If he fell deeply into arrears, but was still included on the home’s title, the wife could ask for a vesting order to transfer the house solely to her.

“In many cases, both parties are named as the home’s owner,” Princewill says. “The vesting order takes the title away from one, and that will probably settle the issue of arrears.”

Another common use of a vesting order is if one party owes an equalization payment, she says, but shows no sign of being willing to pay it.

“If a person is not making any moves to satisfy that equalization payment, a vesting order can be requested to mitigate at least some of the inequity.”

Even if someone can show they are being denied support or equalization payments, a vesting order will not be automatically given, says Princewill, explaining that the decision lies with the judge in each case.

“It’s a discretionary remedy,” she says. “You may check all the boxes, but it doesn’t guarantee that a judge will grant your request. They are always given at the court’s discretion.”

Princewill says the judge looks at each party’s interest in the home, and its value relative to the amount owing.

“The whole process is not done in a vacuum,” she says. “You don’t get ownership of the matrimonial home just because you asked for it.”

Princewill cautions that vesting orders cannot be used to obtain payment of court costs.

“When people have been dragged through the divorce process, and now they are looking to recover their legal fees, they may think they can ask for a vesting order,” she says.

“Unfortunately, it’s not possible in those cases, as the law is very specific about where vesting orders are appropriate.”

Another limitation is that they can only be granted under the Family Law Act, and not the Divorce Act, Princewill says.

When asking for a vesting order, “It’s important that the equalization numbers are done properly, so that you have the right evidence to present. The court wants to ensure that your request is valid and you’re not just trying to get a windfall,” she says.

“It has to be reasonable and fair under the circumstances.”

Princewill says the complexities around vesting orders is a key reason why they are more effectively used by seasoned lawyers.

“They sometimes are the only way to ensure fairness,” she says, “especially in cases where one person is suffering, while the person with assets is ignoring their obligations to pay up.”

If you need any help with family law matters, contact our AP Law Firm in Toronto, Pickering, Markham, and Scarborough. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

Legalization neutralizes pot complaints in custody disputes

January 10th, 2018 by

Legalization has largely neutralized the issue of cannabis use in family law cases, says Toronto family lawyer Angela Princewill.

Princewill, principal of AP Lawyers, says she was among those who suspected the relaxation of Canada’s drug laws would increase complaints about marijuana in custody and access cases.

“We expected the floodgates would be opened to concerns about parents being under the influence while the child was in their care,” she tells AdvocateDaily.com.

Instead, one year after legalization, “It doesn’t even come up anymore,” Princewill says.

Pre-legalization, allegations of marijuana use were wielded like a stick to beat the opposing party in custody disputes, she says.

“It was something that was often thrown into the mix.”

When her client’s drug use was at issue, Princewill says she would answer the allegations with a focus on how it affected the party’s parenting ability. Still, it could be an awkward position to take, she adds.

“You want to show the court that it was only done when the parent was not watching the child,” Princewill says. “But it could almost look like you were minimizing it because they were in possession of an illegal drug. You could argue that it’s no different from socially drinking a glass of wine, but it could be hard to keep a straight face at times.”

She says legalization has significantly blunted the traditional stigma associated with recreational cannabis use.

“Now that illegality is off the table, no concerns are being raised, which shows me that in the past, the main issue was that it was illegal, rather than its impact on parenting ability,” Princewill says. “It has simplified things.”

In the wake of the legislative changes, family law counsel can more comfortably make the comparison with alcohol, she says.

“Allegations come up all the time about how much a person drinks, and if there are persistent concerns about alcohol, you can even write some parameters into the order, by saying that they’re not to drink while the child is in their care,” Princewill says. “Much of it is common sense. When you’re watching your child, you want to be present and alert and not under the influence — especially if your time with them is limited.”

For its part, Health Canada has put together a fact sheet on cannabis use while parenting, pointing out that it “may affect parent-child interactions and attachment,” and could reduce a person’s ability to “pay attention, make decisions or react to emergencies.” It warns that parents under the influence could miss their child’s hunger cues, need for comfort, or signs of danger.

“Be sure that there is always someone available who is not high to take care of your child,” the guide says.

If you need any help with family law matters, contact our experienced AP Family Lawyers in Markham, Toronto, Pickering, and Scarborough. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

Surviving the holidays amid divorce – or if considering it

January 8th, 2018 by

Couples undergoing separation or divorce should avoid conflict by focusing on the magic of the holiday season to ensure the well-being of their children, says Toronto family lawyer Angela Princewill.

It’s crucial that adults behave at this time of year, says Princewill, principal of AP Lawyers. One way is to develop a visitation plan for the holidays to concentrate on the children’s joy, she says.

“Each person’s situation is unique, but it’s usually a good idea to have that conversation before the holidays,” Princewill tells AdvocateDaily.com.

“These are people who are thinking of separating and sought legal advice or are already separated,” she says. “It’s best to have proactive plans in place for the children during the holidays.”

These blueprints include where the children will spend their time, and arranging the gifts so that some are given jointly and others separately, Princewill says.

“But there are other people who are thinking about it and aren’t sure what they should do for Christmas — that’s where the concern comes in. If it’s a situation where it’s safe for you to just stay and try to find joy in the season and get through the holidays, and then deal with this after, that’s ideal,” she says.

“If it’s a high-conflict environment already, it’s probably best for the children if they just have that conversation with you now rather than later,” says Princewill.

Negotiating how the holidays — especially Christmas Day — is often the tricky part, she says.

“Typically, the children would be in one home Christmas Eve until noon on Christmas Day and then with the other parent after that,” Princewill says. “The kids have two dinners — one on Christmas Eve, with gifts on Christmas morning and then, at the other home, it’s gifts and dinner on Christmas Day.”

In some situations, the splitting couple will spend Christmas together “where one parent comes in early in the morning, especially with younger children and wanting to maintain the holiday magic, and the gifts are opened when you are all together,” she says.

The possibilities of how to arrange the holidays are endless, Princewill says.

“But I have so many clients who are anxious about what is the right thing to do,” she says. “It’s difficult. You’re thinking about the children, the family and all of these other people who are involved, but there is no one right thing to do.”

Princewill says it’s never easy.

“You could discuss holiday arrangements on any day of the year, and it would still be a bad time,” she says. “You have to do what is most comfortable for you, and when it comes to the children, you have to do what’s best for them, given your own particular circumstances.

“Don’t base your decisions on other people’s opinions. You know your situation, and you have to pick what works best for you and the children,” Princewill says.

“Children can be very resilient,” she says. “So long as there can be joy and happiness where they are, the other details will affect them even less than we would expect them to.”

Princewill says it’s important to keep safety in mind for those who are in abusive situations because the holidays can be triggers for some people. In those circumstances, a safety plan should be in place while negotiating holiday time, she says, adding that there are free community resources available to help map out that plan.

If it’s likely that the children will be put in “an uncomfortable situation,” it’s best to separate before the holidays and arrange a plan for how you will handle it, Princewill says.

“Obviously if there is domestic violence, the intention should be to get out of there — even if it happens on Christmas Day,” she says.

If you need any help with family law matters, contact our professional AP Lawyers in Scarborough, Pickering, Markham, and Toronto. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

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If you need any help with family law matters, contact AP Family Law Lawyers in Pickering, Toronto, Markham, and Scarborough. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

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PENSIONS – Asset vs Income

December 21st, 2017 by

Upon separation, pensions are valued differently depending on whether the the owner is retired or not.
A pension right may be treated as a capital asset or income.

Simply put, a pension right for a person who is not yet retired is an entitlement to a future income steam and the present value of that future income stream must be valued as an asset.

After retirement, the pension becomes an income asset.

As an asset, a pension should be included in the calculation of parties’ Net Family Property and consideration should be given for contingent taxes.

If you need any help with family law matters, contact AP Family Law Lawyers Services in Markham, Toronto, Pickering, and Scarborough. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

What to Expect at a Case Conference

November 29th, 2017 by

It is often nerve-racking and overwhelming in the days leading up to a Case Conference as such it is important to have some essential knowledge of where you meet your lawyer/where to go, what can happen at a Case Conference and what happens after it is done. You will find useful information all about your upcoming court date in this document.

Where should you meet your lawyer?

Firstly, it is important to understand beforehand where to meet your lawyer on the day of the Case Conference to ease any confusion or delay. You will be able to meet your lawyer on the given day at the prescribed court house (150 Bond Street East, 393 University Ave, or alternative) you will be able to attain information on the main level in regard to the exact courtroom on that day and your lawyer will meet you outside the prescribed court room.

Please arrive roughly a half hour before the given time of the Case Conference to ensure time for parking, attaining specific court room information, and check in. Your lawyer will arrive at least 15 minutes prior to start time.

What is a Case Conference?

The case conference is the most important step in family law litigation. No motion may be heard and no notice of motion may be served until a case conference dealing with the substantive issues in the case has been completed.  Unless there is a situation of urgency or hardship or a case conference is not required for some other reason in the interest of justice.

A case conference held is to allow the litigants and their lawyers to hear a judge’s views on the case at an early stage, before thousands of dollars are spent on motions and other expensive steps. Early airing of the issues promotes early resolution of disputes.

Goals of a Case Conference:

a) Exploring the chances of settling the case:

A case conference allows the parties to understand how far apart they are on the major issues. Central to this is a judge who is willing to explain how he or she sees the law applying to the facts of the case, including any particularly unusual or difficult facts and the way such facts might be perceived at a motion or trial. Often the case conference judge elaborates on a particular point of law, either clarifying or changing one of the client’s previously held views, with the hope of bringing the parties closer to settlement than before.

 b) Identifying the issues in dispute:

Sometimes after a thorough discussion with the judge, the parties realize that what they previously thought was an impassable issue is resolvable. It is also possible that what was once taken for granted as not being in dispute may turn out to be very contentious. A case conference will also entail a frank discussion of the costs and benefits of settling or proceeding, legal fees, stress on the parties, and time commitments involved.

 c) Exploring ways to resolve disputed issues:

A case conference judge proposes realistic and achievable solutions that are acceptable to both parties and is able to reframe an issue so the parties see it and their role in a new light, paving the way for settlement.

d) Ensuring relevant financial disclosure is made:

One of the most crucial functions a case conference judge performs is ensuring that full and complete financial disclosure is exchanged. Without it, a lawyer is unable to properly advise his or her client, which makes settlement impossible.

e) Identifying issues for “expert” evidence:

Since there are very strict rules as to what constitutes an expert and when expert reports need to be served, early identification of any issues relating to experts or proposed experts a party intends to rely on at trial should be discussed.

f) Noting admissions that may simplify the case:

Judges who are good listeners can often get the parties and their lawyers to talk openly about their true underlying motivations, not just their stated legal positions, and can help identify common interests that tend to generate settlement.

g) Setting the date for the next step in the case:

The judge should discuss whether the case conference has been “completed” as required by r. 14(4) of the Family Law Rules (FLR) and, if so, whether a motion or a settlement conference will follow.

h) If possible, having the parties agree to a specific timetable:

Disclosure orders with specific deadlines are vital. If the conference is held before the respondent files an answer, a deadline for its filing should be made. Any amended materials, pension valuations, or home appraisals will all require dates for production and exchange.

i) Organizing a settlement conference or holding one if appropriate:

Usually if the parties agree, a settlement conference date is booked.

A judge must conduct at least one case conference in every case where an answer is filed (r. 17(1)) (FLR). In a child protection case, a case conference may be conducted if a party requests it or if the court considers it appropriate (r. 17(1.1)) (FLR). A case conference is even required for a motion to change an order or agreement under R. 15 (rr. 17(3) and (11)) (FLR).

Orders that can be made at a Case Conference:

The judge may, if it is “appropriate” to do so:

  • make an order for documentary disclosure (R. 19) (FLR), questioning (R. 20) (FLR), or filing of summaries of argument on a motion, set the times for events in the case, or give directions for the next step(s) in the case;
  • make an order requiring the parties or one of them to attend a mandatory information program, a conference conducted by Dispute Resolution Officer, an intake meeting with a court-affiliated mediation service, or a program offered through any other available community service or resource;
  • make an order if it is on consent or unopposed; and
  • on consent refer any issue for alternative dispute resolution.

In addition, if notice has been served, a court may make a final or temporary order at a case conference:

  • relating to the designation of beneficiaries under a policy of life insurance, RRSP, trust, pension, annuity, or similar instrument;
  • preserving assets, either generally or particularly;
  • prohibiting the concealment or destruction of documents or property;
  • requiring an accounting of funds under the control of one of the parties;
  • preserving the health and medical insurance coverage for one of the parties and the children;
  • continuing the payment of periodic amounts required to preserve an asset or a benefit to one of the parties and children.

If you need any help with family law matters, contact AP Family Lawyers in Scarborough, Pickering, Markham, and Toronto. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

LMIA and CETA Exemption

November 2nd, 2017 by

Our Firm’s Better Billing Practice

October 31st, 2017 by

Changes to Citizenship Program

October 12th, 2017 by

Immigration Toronto Bail Program

September 7th, 2017 by

Sponsor Eligibility

July 20th, 2017 by

Date of Marriage Values

July 2nd, 2017 by

The value of assets owned on the date of marriage is important for equalization/division of net family property, following separation.

March Break Ready – Travel consents

February 26th, 2017 by

With March Break just around the corner, you might be getting ready to plan trips outside of Canada. When traveling with children, you should be aware of what you might need. Although not a legal requirement, if children are traveling alone, with relatives, or with one parent, then the Government of Canada strongly recommends that you have a consent letter.

A consent letter is a document signed by parents or guardians who are not accompanying the child stating that the child has permission to travel abroad. A consent letter does not guarantee entry into or exit from a country, as every country has its own entry and exit requirements, the letter protects your child’s safety.

If you are a parent of separation or divorce with shared custody or access, and you are traveling alone with your child, the other parent should sign the consent form. If you have sole custody of your child, you should carry any agreements or court orders indicating you have sole custody. If your child is adopted or you are the guardian, you should carry the legal documents indicating such.

If your parenting arrangements have special terms governing international travel, the Government of Canada recommends you seek legal guidance to ensure you are compliant with your agreement.

If you need a consent letter template, you can download it here.

Have a great March Break with your children.

If you need any help with family law matters, contact AP experienced family lawyers in Toronto, Pickering, Markham, and Scarborough. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

What to do on Family Day: what is open and closed?

February 17th, 2017 by

Extended Group Portrait Of Family Enjoying Day In Park

Family Day is right around the corner on Monday, February 20, 2017. You’re excited to spend time with your children, and you’ve started planning your day, but what’s open?

Tourist Attractions

[1] The Art Gallery of Ontario from 10:30a.m. – 4:00p.m. will have children’s programs
[2] The Royal Ontario Museum from 10:00a.m. – 5:30p.m. will be celebrating Chinese Lunar New Year
[3] The Toronto Zoo from 10:00a.m. – 2:00p.m. will have a wildlife exhibit
[4] Ripley’s Aquarium from 9:00a.m. – 11:00p.m.
[5] Movie theatres

Malls

  • The Eaton Centre from 10:00a.m. – 6:00p.m.
  • Vaughan Mills Shopping Centre from 10:00a.m. – 7:00p.m.
  • Square One from 11:00a.m. – 6:00p.m.

There are even free family events all over the city.

  • Free skating at Nathan Phillips Square from 1:00p.m. – 4:00p.m., the High Park Zoo
  • Free to see llamas, yaks and emus at the High Park Zoo from 7:00a.m. – 5:00p.m.
  • Free to see the farm animals at the Riverdale Zoo from 9:00a.m. – 5:00p.m.

For more on what is happening in the city for Family Day, check out the City of Toronto website.

What is closed?

  • Major grocery stores
  • Yorkdale Shopping Centre
  • Sherway Gardens
  • Scarborough Town Centre
  • Pickering Town Centre
  • Public Libraries

When planning your day, keep in mind that TTC will run on the holiday schedule and GO Transit will run on the Saturday schedule.

We, at A. Princewill Law Firm, wish you and your family a Happy Family Day!

If you need any help with family law matters, contact AP Family Law Firm in Scarborough, Pickering, Markham, and Toronto. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

Thank you for voting us Top Choice

January 21st, 2017 by

Thank you for voting us your Top Family Law Firm in Durham Region for 2017.

Your nomination & votes mean so much to us and we promise to continue working hard for you every day.

What should I do before I say “I do” – get a prenup

January 21st, 2017 by

Lifemates

So you’ve finally found the love of your life and you’re ready to tie the knot, but what should you do before you say “I do?” A prenup.

What is a prenup?

We hear about it in celebrity gossip or even at the dinner table when someone has just gotten engaged, but we may not know exactly what it entails. One thing we do know, you should get one.

A “prenup” is referred to as a “marriage contract” in Canada. It is a legal document for individuals getting married to protect their finances and assets should their marriage dissolve. It can even include parenting arrangements for children, EXCEPT custody and child support.

Couples often don’t discuss prenups because simultaneously planning the beginning and end of your marriage is not pleasant.

If prenups cause so much distress, why would anyone want one? Because, unfortunately, divorce can happen. Statistics Canada states that 4 in 10 marriages end in divorce.[1] In fact, finances are one of the top 10 reasons marriages dissolve.[2]

Without a prenup in Ontario, the Family Law Act governs the division of your assets and finances, and the division may not be in your favour.

What will the Family Law Act do?

Subject to some exceptions, the Family Law Act provides a calculation that equalizes the net worth of each spouse as acquired during the marriage. The split is often fifty-fifty and may pose a problem for some spouses.

For example, imagine that you own a home prior to marriage, and upon marriage, you and your spouse decide to live there. Your home becomes the matrimonial home. This means, if the marriage ends, the Family Law Act may entitle your spouse to half of the property. With a prenup, you can determine the property distribution.

Further, consider if your spouse has an enormous debt. Upon the dissolution of marriage, the Family Law Act would allow them deduct it and significantly reduce their net family property. Again, with a prenup, you can state how your debt would be apportioned.

These are just some examples, but is a prenup right for you?

Yes, if:

  • There is a significant difference in your assets or debt
  • Even if you have little to no assets at the time of marriage, it is still important to get a prenup as your income and assets can grow while you are married
  • You are receiving a home as an inheritance and you will be living in it during the marriage
  • You want to protect your business
  • You want to avoid extending court involvement
  • You have children and want to make a smooth transition for the future
  • You have children and want to protect assets you have for them

A prenup is a secure financial planning option, but the conversation of a prenup can be difficult. We, at A. Princewill Law Firm as your family law lawyers, can help you and your partner understand how a prenup protects your interests, while you still prepare for a beautiful future together.

If you need any help with family law matters, contact AP Family Law Lawyers in Markham, Pickering, Toronto, and Scarborough. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

[1] http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/personal-finance/household-finances/before-saying-i-do-think-about-drafting-a-marriage-contract/article5463592/

[2] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/yourtango/10-most-common-reasons-people-divorce_b_8086312.html

Top Choice Gala 2016

October 30th, 2016 by

Great night at the 2016 Top Choice Awards Gala on October 22. What an honor to spend the evening with winners from different industries with a shared passion for Top quality products and services.

Top Choice Awards 20162016 Top Choice Awards - Angela Princewill 2016 Top Choice Awards - A. Princewill Law Firm 2016 Top Choice Awards - A Princewill Law Firm 2016 Top Choice Awards 2016 Top Choice Awards - Andreina Minicozzi, Anisa Dattu, Angela Princewill 2016 Top Choice Awards - Angela Princewill, Anisa Dattu, Andreina Minicozzi AP Lawyers - Anisa Dattu, Andreina Minicozzi 2016 Top Choice Awards

Notional Disposition Costs

June 20th, 2016 by

When calculating equalization of Net Family Property, it is important to put one’s mind to the question of disposition costs of certain assets. Failing to include this could lead to a loss of several thousand dollars. However, its inclusion is not necessarily always appropriate.

For the deduction to be considered appropriate, you need to show that it is more likely than not that the asset would be sold. If it is not clear that the asset will be sold in the foreseeable future, you may not be allowed to take the deduction.

You must also determine the appropriate disposition cost of each asset. For example, the disposition costs for RRSPs will differ from that for Real Estate.

The main thing is to put you mind to this issue because as mentioned earlier, it could amount to a lot of $$$.

If you need any help with family law matters, contact our experienced lawyers in Pickering, Toronto, Markham, and Scarborough. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

Got Questions? We have Answers.

March 21st, 2016 by

Do you have questions about a matrimonial, family or divorce matter? You can get your questions answered by a family law lawyer in Toronto at A. Princewill Law Firm for free.

Just follow these 2 simple steps:

  1. Email your questions to [email protected]
  2. Subject line must say Question & Answer

We will select and respond to one question daily.

  • Confidentiality will be maintained.  

10 Things to Look out for in a Financial Statement

March 14th, 2016 by

The Financial Statement is the most important document in a Family Law matter that includes support claims, as well as claims for equalization & division of property

There are timelines within which the Financial Statement must be provided if the matter is being litigated and there are mandatory documents that must be disclosed.

Below is a list of 10 things to pay attention to when preparing or reviewing the other party’s Financial Statement.

1) Are you using the right form?

At first sight, they may appear to be the same, but Form 13 is different from Form 13.1 in the use and information captured. The former is for cases where only support is sought. The latter is required if there are property issues.

2) What valuation date is used?

This could significantly affect equalization payments.

3) Are notices of assessments and income tax returns for the last 3 years attached?

4) Have all sources of income been disclosed?

5) Are expenses stated accurately? Or reasonable under the circumstances?

6) Did you list only your share of jointly owned assets and debts?

7) Are values for assets owned on the date of marriage included with supporting documentation?

8) Have any assets been disposed of in the 2 years prior to separation? If yes, further investigation may be required.

9) Have all assets been listed?

10) Is the calculation of the net family property accurate?

If you need any help with family law matters, contact AP professional family lawyers in Scarborough, Pickering, Markham, and Toronto. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

Tip of the day: orders obtained by fraud

February 3rd, 2016 by

Law and Justice

Never mislead the courts regarding service or the grounds for divorce. The courts can set aside a divorce order obtained by fraud.

Ever wonder what happens if you die without a will?

November 27th, 2015 by

Contact A. Princewill Law Firm today to make or update your will.

Angela Princewill

289-622-7662

[email protected]

1480 Bayly Street Suite 2 Pickering, ON L1W 3T8

Parenting Plans

October 7th, 2015 by

What is a Parenting Plan?

A parenting plan is a document that outlines decisions about a child after a couple separates or divorces. The purpose of a parenting plan is to describe parenting arrangements that focus on, but are not limited to:

  • How decisions regarding the child are to be made (ie. By one parent or by both)
  • How information about the child will be disclosed to the other parent
  • When each parent gets to spend time with the child
  • How to address other parenting issues that may arise in the future as the child grows older

Goals

The goal of a parenting plan is to enforce and reflect the interests and needs of a child. By setting out a written guideline to adhere to, this minimizes confusing and disagreement amongst the parents. Children’s psychological needs are satisfied by parents who cooperate with one another and the parenting plan can achieve that.

Features

There are certain characteristics that make a parenting plan an ideal solution during a separation or divorce because it does not need to be in fancy legal terms but should be written in detail to address any issues that may arise but it is also adaptable to the real circumstances of the child and his/her surroundings.

A parenting plan provides a healthy negotiation between the parents and stability for the child. The parents work through arrangements and circumstances that best suit the child and his/her expected future to be able to develop the best parenting plan for them to follow as a guideline.

While it is not necessary to have a parenting plan, it is intended for parents who would like to create an agreement to both be involved in the child’s life.

What to incorporate in a parenting plan

Parenting plans are suited to the child and his/her best interests. Therefore, each parenting plan will vary in arrangements but it is important to outline the basic needs of the child and foreseeable needs for the future. An example of topics to discuss in parenting plans are:

  • Drop off and pick up times.
  • Child’s school and recreational events.
  • Telephone/ communication between parent and child.
  • What to do when the child refuses to visit the other parent.
  • Division of child’s property between parent homes.
  • Emergencies
  • Custody and Access during holidays.
  • Vacations out of town or country.
  • Parent-teacher conferences.
  • Introducing new partners to the child.
  • Parent moving away

This list can be tailored to individual and child needs to produce a parenting plan that can effectively be used by a guideline that satisfies both parents.

What we can do for you

Seeking the aid of a lawyer when drafting a parenting plan can be highly beneficial for the best interests of the child and also for you as a parent.

It is important to know that parenting plans can sometimes be incorporated into a court order obligating the other parent to adhere by it. It is important when drafting a parenting plan to think of all topics that need to be discussed and to be realistic about them.

Many times the parents cannot reach an agreement and commonly lawyers are used to assist them in drafting their parenting plan. Lawyers can effectively include areas of child interest that parents are negligent to address or that cause conflict in negotiating. It is ideal to seek legal advice about what you as a parent want included in a parenting plan and minimize mistakes.

If you need any help with family law matters, contact AP Experienced Lawyers in Markham, Toronto, Pickering, and Scarborough. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

Pre-marriage and Post-marriage agreements

October 1st, 2015 by

“Just as buying life insurance doesn’t foretell a premature death, neither does a prenup nor a postnup suggests the marriage will be unstable.”

Interesting article on the value of pre- or post-marriage agreements. While many people are familiar with the concept of prenuptial agreements, lots of people do not recognize that they can enter into similar agreement at anytime during the marriage.

For common-law spouses, cohabitation agreements are very helpful in defining how the partners would like to deal with their finances in the event of a breakdown in the relationship.

To read the complete article, click here.

Imputing income for Support purposes

September 16th, 2015 by

One of the most pivotal factors that accompanies a separation/ divorce is the matter of child support. In Canada, a judge can effectively ‘impute’ the income of a parent to be paid for child support to the other parent. Parents have an obligation to jointly support their children based on their income and ability pursuant to Section 26.1(2) Divorce Act.

Family lawyers are experts when determining how much of a parent’s income is accountable for child support. This is based on the payor parent’s gross income compared to the value in the corresponding Federal Child Support Table. The judge has the discretion to establish the amount of income to be imputed based on that parent’s earning capacity and not necessarily what that parent currently earns. This is a result of complications that can arise in situations when a parent is self-employed and their income tax documents do not accurately emulate their income or when the payor parent intentionally chooses to be unemployed or in a position with a low salary to avoid their moral and legal obligation of child support.

Section 19 of the Federal Child Support Guidelines (“the Guidelines”) grants imputing income from the payor parent based on their capacity. This section outlines nine main situations that a judge can order imputed income from a parent. As the court has the autonomy to use their discretion in such scenarios, imputed income can also occur in situations not listed in Section 19 of the Guidelines. Courts will always place the interests of the child first and place precedence on the child’s right to support over the parents interests. Therefore, should child support payments become an issue in a family law matter, the court can effectively intervene and critically analyze a parent’s career decision and/or how they operate their business. The onus of proof will be placed upon the parent owing child support payment as displayed in West v. West (2001), 18 R.F.L. (5th) 440 (S.C.J.).

When Can Imputed Income Occur

The case of Risen v. Risen (1998) AC.W.S (3d) 669 (Ont. Ct.) (Gen Div), the court stated that although Section 19 of the Guidelines sets out a non-exhaustive list, the court has the discretion to deviate from it, however, the case must bear some similarity to the scenarios. Also seen in Mascarenhas v. Mascarenhas (1999), 44 R.F.L. (4th) 131 (Ont. Ct.)(Gen Div), the court held that any scenarios where the court must use their discretion outside of the list enumerated in Section 19, should bear some resemblance.

Section 19 of the Guidelines states that imputed income can occur in any of the following nine scenarios of this non-exhaustive list:

The payor parent is exempt from paying federal or provincial income tax.

The payor parent receives their income from a trust that they are a beneficiary of.

The payor parent did not comply with their legal obligation to disclose income information.

The payor parent is unreasonably deducting expenses from their income.

The payor parent is not reasonably generating an income from the use of their property.

The payor parent intentionally continues to remain unemployed or under-paid in their employment.

The payor parents lives in a country where the tax rates are much lower than Canada’s.

The payor parent is diverting their income to alter the amount of child support paid.

The payor parent acquires a portion of their income from dividends, capital gains and/or other sources that have a lower tax rate or are exempt from tax.

Case Law

Case law is imperative to the matter of imputed income as the courts have a broad discretion on determining the amount of child support to be paid.

In Contino v Leonelli-Contino 2005 SCC 63, the court initially imputed the father’s income according to the Federal Child Support Table. However, after analyzing the child’s custody and access, the court determined that the father owed less than what was specified in the table because the child lived with the father approximately 50% of the time.

Another case that displays the courts discretion to vary child support payment is Quintal v. Quintal 1997 9576 (ON SC) is when a father who was forced to resign for his retirement asked the court to vary his child support payments because his income significantly plummeted from $51,577 to a pension of $12,288. The court reduced his child support payments for six months as he stated he was actively seeking employment elsewhere to be able to make his child support payments. Actively seeking employment is a debateable point in almost all cases as the father could have intentionally been unemployed. However, the court granted his six months until his payments increased again whether he was employed or not because of his health, desire, and expectation to find employment justified imputing income to him in the reasonably foreseeable future, if not immediately.

The main issue among all imputed income cases is that the court will always place the child’s interest first as it is not fault to bear the financial consequences of a parent’s misconduct.

One of the most popular circumstances where a court will impute income as mentioned above is when a parent intentionally leaves a secure employment to pursue self-employment. This can be for whatever reasons the parent chooses as they have the autonomy to do so. However, the parent must be responsible to still maintain their child support payments regardless of their future endeavours. The court can exercise their discretion to vary support payments for a specific time period.

In Depace v. Michienzi (2000), 5 R.F.L. (5th) 40 (S.C.J.), the court stated that they may allow a “grace-period” to account for start-up loses a parent may face.

Further expressed in Visnjic v. Visnjic (2000), 7 R.F.L. (5th) 195 (S.C.J.), the court held that if a parent wishes to engage in self-employment they must continue to meet their financial responsibilities out of their capital or through borrowing. Where a parent chooses to venture into a self-start-up career outside of their usual domain, a court will most likely impute income as displayed in  Le Page v. Porter (2000), 7 R.F.L. (5th) 335 (S.C.J.). In this case, the parent left working as a social worker to engage in stock speculation and real estate investing. The parent did not speculate that his income would plummet as much as it did; however, pursuant to Section 26.1(1) Divorce Act, he had an obligation to pay child support and his income was imputed effectively.

Conclusion

A court can impute income from a parent in many different scenarios based on their discretion. There are many different circumstances that will warrant an income to be imputed, as displayed above, and many that are reasonably foreseeable based on the non-exhaustive list under Section 19 of the Guidelines.

It is important to be prepared in such matters and know if you can be liable for imputed income. At A. Princewill Law Firm, we have many years of experience and know what the court is looking for when they are determining whether or not to impute a parent’s income. We can represent and assist you should you find yourself in a vulnerable position and either require child support payments from a spouse or are the spouse owing child support payments.

If you need any help with family law matters, contact AP Family Lawyers in Pickering, Toronto, Markham, and Scarborough. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.