At David I. Warren Barrister & Solicitor, our highly experienced family law lawyer can provide timely and effective legal advice related to all your family law issues. Contact our family lawyer to know more about the legal services we provide.
The lawyer can help families at all stages of the existence of a family unit. Cohabitation agreements, marriage contracts and separation agreements are often the least stressful way of ensuring that all parties rights and responsibilities are understood and respected.
A lawyer can act in two ways for the preparation of such contracts. They can be a collaborative family lawyer and act for both spouses or spouses to be, in the preparation of a contract, taking input from both sides and preparing a document that satisfies everyone. If both parties retain one lawyer to act collaboratively, that lawyer cannot act for one party alone if negotiations break down and will have to withdraw from the process.
Alternatively, one of the parties can hire a lawyer to draft an agreement, whether it is a Cohabitation Agreement, a Marriage Contract, or a Separation Agreement.
Once a draft has been prepared it can be sent to the other party’s lawyer for independent legal advice. Once the lawyer and parties have reviewed the contract, made any necessary changes, and signed and dated the contract in front of independent witnesses then the agreement is enforceable.
The most common issues that are dealt with in such contracts are:
- Separation of the property of the parties, particularly if it is a Cohabitation Agreement or Marriage Contract;
- Custody of children, whether sole or joint;
- Access (visiting rights) to children;
- Child support, if the parties are not living together;
- Spousal support (formerly known as alimony);
- Equalization of property on separation;
If the parties are unable to negotiate with or without lawyer on these issues the next step is beginning an action in Family Court. Provincial Family Courts can deal with all issues except Equalization of Property and Divorce. Federal Family Courts can deal with all the above listed issues. Federal Courts are slower, more expensive and more complex. I often recommend to my clients that they deal with the preliminary issues listed as 1 to 5 above in Provincial Family Courts, which are faster and cheaper, and leave the issue of Divorce to be dealt with in a Federal Court, usually on an uncontested basis, often after the other issues have been resolved.
When a family becomes involved with a Child Protection Agency because of familial breakdown or other reasons, a lawyer can help the family achieve the best result available under the circumstances. Sometimes schools and other professionals report a family to the Children’s Aid Society through a misunderstanding of circumstances. On the other hand, a Children’s Aid Society is not going to walk away from involvement with a family simply because a misunderstanding may be resolved. Outcomes of Child Protection Cases may be as limited as a short supervision order where the Society assists the family in finding supports that will allow the family to continue as a more effective unit, or as severe and dramatic as the permanent removal of the child from the family unit without access to other family members and for the purpose of adoption.
It is my experience that working cooperatively with the Society to resolve issues is often the best way of solving problems and restoring the family unit with everyone’s safety in mind. On the other hand, when necessary I have not hesitated to aggressively counteract unreasonable or unfair positions taken by the Society and have been able to convince either Society lawyer or Judges of the validity of my position.
I have been involved in this practice area for approximately thirty years. It requires the background and knowledge of someone who has extensive experience in this area.