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I want a divorce!

<?php echo get_the_title();?> | Goldhart Family Law

Following the breakdown of a marriage, there are several issues that need to be sorted out as part of the divorce process. It comes as a surprise to many new clients that the “divorce” itself is the last part of the process and, generally speaking, the least controversial aspect. Leading up to the divorce, however, there are many issues to be sorted out, including but not limited to parenting arrangements, child support, spousal support and property division. Your family law lawyer will assist you to comprehend, navigate through, and negotiate a resolution to all of these other issues.

Parenting

“Parenting” is comprised of two (2) often misunderstood parts – custody and access. “Custody” is about major decision-making for the children in relation to education, non-emergency medical issues and religion. “Sole custody” entitles one parent to make all of decisions for the children within those enumerated categories without the consent of the other parent, while “joint custody” requires both parents to agree upon and jointly make decisions within the enumerated categories. Finally, “parallel parenting” divides the categories such that one parent is the sole decision-making within each one.

“Access” refers to the time that the children will be spending with each parent. Access (or “parenting”) schedules vary vastly from family to family. Access arrangements are determined based upon the best interests of the children and are intended to be personalized for each family’s specific needs.

Child Support

Child support also has two (2) aspects – there is monthly child support as well as contribution to special and/or extraordinary expenses for the children. Both aspects of child support are the absolute right of the child, as opposed to being an entitlement of his or her parent.

Monthly child support is calculated based upon the following factors:

  • The income(s) of the support payor(s)
  • The parenting/access schedule that is in place
  • The Child Support Guidelines and Child Support Tables

Monthly child support is not taxable.

Special and/or Extraordinary Expenses refer to the costs of children’s activities such as swimming lessons over and above day-to-day expenses. Parents are each required to contribute, proportionately based upon his or her income, to the cost of these expenses. However, not every activity or expense is appropriately characterized as a “special and/or extraordinary expense”.

Spousal Support

Spousal support is not an automatic right for the lower income-earning spouse in the event of a breakdown of the relationship. Rather, entitlement to spousal support is determined based upon the needs, means and circumstances of the spouses. It is fact-driving analysis that reviews various aspects of the relationship including but not limited to the ages of the spouses, duration of the relationship, roles adopted during the relationship, the parenting arrangements after separation, and the financial circumstances of each spouse.

Spousal support is either paid “periodically” (generally on a monthly basis) or as a lump sum (a one-time payment). When spousal support is paid periodically, it is taxable to the recipient as income and tax deductible for the payor. On the other hand, lump sum spousal support is paid on a tax-free basis.

Property

The property division regime in the Family Law Act is only applicable to married spouses. Upon relationship breakdown, the legislation directs that spouses “equalize” their “net family property”. In effect, married spouses are entitled to share in the growth of net worth that was experienced during the course of their marriage subject to certain exclusions and/or adjustments. Common law spouses, on the other hand, may have claims in equity to seek a share of property owned by the other spouse on the basis that they were jointly contributing to the growth of assets during the course of the relationship.

The foregoing represents a primer on each of these issues. For more detailed and/or personalized advice regarding these topics, please contact us to arrange a meeting.

About the Author

Maneesha Mehra is an associate at Goldhart & Associates and joined the firm in February 2015 after practicing at several boutique family law firms in Toronto. She was called to the bar in 2006 after articling with a full-service law firm. Maneesha has experience in civil litigation, but has been practising family law exclusively since January 2008.

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