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Travel Restrictions continue at all of Canada’s international border crossings – Victoria Day 2020

May 15th, 2020 by

On Monday, May 18, 2020, many of the Canadian provinces and territories will celebrate Victoria Day, as a statutory holiday. Victoria Day began as a celebration to honour Queen Victoria’s birthday and was declared a Canadian holiday by the government in 1845. It has unofficially been recognized as an indication that warmer weather is around the corner. Typically, the day is celebrated with family and friend gatherings, cannon salutes and fireworks.

 

At this time given that much of Canada is under Stay-at-Home Orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada Border Services Agency (“CBSA”) has reminded all travellers that the travel restrictions announced in March 2020, restricting all non-essential travel into Canada by non-Canadian nationals, are still in place at all of Canada’s international border crossings.

 

For further information please see: https://www.canada.ca/en/border-services-agency/news/2020/05/the-cbsa-reminds-travellers-of-restrictions-ahead-of-the-long-weekend.html

 

#APLawyers #CBSA #ImmigrationLaw #VictoriaDay #LongWeekend #CanadaImmigration #TravelRestrictions #COVID19 #Fireworks #TogetherAtHome #WarmerWeather #SummerIsComing

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.

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.

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 alterative dispute resolution methods such as, virtual mediation. Creativity is at it’s 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.

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 client 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.

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 (905) 492-7662 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.

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

Family questions rigid sponsorship system

January 31st, 2020 by

When his father was diagnosed with terminal cancer last October, Juan Valencia was devastated.

But as if the impending loss of his father weren’t upsetting enough, because of a technicality in federal immigration rules, the diagnosis could mean that Valencia remains separated from his mother as well.

Valencia, 37, immigrated to Canada from Colombia in 2000. After his sister followed him 10 years later,his parents were left with no close relatives in Medellin, so in April 2011 he applied to the federal parent and grandparent sponsorship program to bring them here.

The family waited more than four years as their application made its way through the immigration department’s bureaucracy, and then finally last fall, they reached the last stages of the process; a medical exam to determine whether Leocadio, 81, and Cecilia, 71, were healthy enough to come to Canada. That’s when a doctor found the mass on Leocadio’s lung. It was colon cancer that had spread throughout his body.

The diagnosis means Leocadio would be deemed medically inadmissible for permanent resident statusin Canada, and the family has resigned itself to the fact that he will die in Colombia. But because Leocadio was listed as the principal applicant on the sponsorship for both he and his wife, if he’s rejected, she will be barred from moving to Canada, too.

The family has put the application on hold while they consider their options. But Valencia, an award-winning musician who lives in Pickering, Ont., said he doesn’t understand why the system is so rigid.

“I think that we as Canadians deserve a little bit more flexibility in terms of being able to bring our parents here and enjoy their last few years that they have in this world,” said Valencia, who became a citizen in 2008. “The laws for the grandparents and parents are very strict.”

In what seems to the family a cruel irony, according to IRCC there’s only one way to name a new principal applicant on a sponsorship application: if the current one dies. That means that Cecilia could proceed with her current application, but only if her husband passes away. Valencia said his father could live for at least two more years, and depending how long he survives, Cecilia may have to submit to a new medical exam as part of the process. The older she gets, the less likely she is of passing one.

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 Pickering family lawyer Angela Princewill.

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.”

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 Pickering 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.

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 Pickering 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.