The Impact of COVID-19 / Coronavirus on Family Law

Kimberley Wilton, B.Sc. (Hons.), B.A., J.D.Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), Child Support, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Custody and Access, Divorce, Family Law, Interjurisdictional Disputes, Mobility Issues, Separation, Separation Agreements, Spousal Support0 Comments

The current COVID-19 pandemic has dominated our working and private lives. It is not surprising that the pandemic has greatly impacted all areas of family law and has created unprecedented challenges for separated parents. Self-isolation and social distancing orders have presented a host of challenges for parents dealing with access and parenting arrangements. Many parents have lost jobs or suffered other economic losses during the pandemic which has left them unable to fulfill their current support obligations. An increase in domestic violence has been another unfortunate result of the pandemic, which may increase the need for restraining orders and peace bonds. While the Ontario Superior Court of Justice and the Ontario Court of Justice have suspended regular operations, they continue to hear urgent family law matters. The closure of the courts highlights the need for cooperation between parents and their counsel during these times. At Gilbertson Davis LLP, we have … Read More

Divorce and Separation: Spouses jointly owned business’

Elisha Hale, LL.B (Hons) Dip.Division of Property, Divorce, Separation, Separation Agreements0 Comments

When parties separate, tensions are high with both parties making lifestyle adjustments, attempting to divide assets and often negotiating  parenting arrangements.  In the case where parties share business interests or are partners in business, this can lead to increased stress, where the business and therefore the spouses current and future financial security remains entwined with a soon to be ex-spouse’s. In the case of Danecker v. Danecker, 2013 ONSC 1605, the husband and wife were both physiotherapists.  Their marriage ultimately broke down in late 2009 and at the date of separation, they were equal partners in an unincorporated physiotherapy clinic. The husband attempted, without success, to set up his own separate clinic but eventually was employed by a local hospital. Upon the separation, the wife bought out the husband’s share of the building and continued to operate for three years without any profits being shared with the husband. As part … Read More

Divorce: How are business assets split?

Elisha Hale, LL.B (Hons) Dip.Division of Property, Divorce, Marriage Contracts, Separation0 Comments

When parties separate, there are often disputes over one party’s entitlement to the other party’s shares or interest in a private or family business. If a marriage contract was executed validly, this contract may govern the splitting of business assets.  Where there is no marriage contract, there is no specific method of valuating a business under the Family Law Act and parties should always be aware that different methods can result in different values with different tax consequences.  Parties often hire two separate valuators and if both parties cannot agree, the issue will end up in the Family Courts. Entitlement to a share of the business Whilst a family business which has been inherited or gifted to one party may result in the business interest being exempted from matrimonial property, the value of a private business interest not inherited or gifted will fall presumptively into the category of matrimonial property … Read More

COVID-19 / Coronavirus: The Ontario Superior Court of Justice Expects to Further Expand the Scope of Matters to be Heard Virtually

Kimberley Wilton, B.Sc. (Hons.), B.A., J.D.Collaborative Family Law, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Custody and Access, Divorce, Family Law, Hague Conventions, Separation0 Comments

On May 5, 2020, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice issued a Notice to the Profession, Litigants, Accused Persons and the Media advising of the Continued Suspension of in-court matters to July 6, 2020. This Notice further advised the Superior Court will continue to hear matters virtually and expects to shortly further expand the scope of matters that will be heard virtually. On March 15, 2020, the Chief Justice of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice released a Notice to the Profession advising that all scheduled family law hearings were adjourned until further notice. However, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice continued to hear urgent family law matters such as: requests for urgent relief relating to the safety of a child or parent (e.g., a restraining order, other restrictions on contact between the parties or a party and a child, or exclusive possession of the home); urgent issues that must … Read More

COVID-19 / Coronavirus: Access to children with additional health risks

Elisha Hale, LL.B (Hons) Dip.COVID-19, Custody and Access, Mobility Issues, Separation0 Comments

Sharing custody of a child or children can be difficult at the best of times. With the additional stress of the COVID-19 crisis, shared custody and access adds further strain to this relationship. Parents are forced to make difficult decisions about their child’s wellbeing  while balancing parenting arrangements often ordered by the courts, and additional challenges posed by mandatory public health protocols. Parents with children who have additional needs or are at increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 are likely to face additional difficulty during this crisis with the court becoming involved where parties cannot resolve their conflicting views. Many parents have sought to suspend access or seek sole custody of their child during the crisis, citing fears for their child’s health. The onus is on the party seeking to restrict access to provide specific evidence or examples of behaviour or plans by the other party that are inconsistent with … Read More

COVID-19 / Coronavirus and Family Law: Parenting Arrangements when Parents are Essential Workers

Kimberley Wilton, B.Sc. (Hons.), B.A., J.D.Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), Coronavirus, COVID-19, Custody and Access, Divorce, Family Law, Mobility Issues, Separation0 Comments

Co-parenting can be challenging during the best of times. Co-parenting during a pandemic presents a host of additional challenges. Today, parents are placed in the challenging position of having to continue to abide by their current parenting arrangements, ensuring the health and safety of their children and family, while also following public health directives. It is not surprising that during this pandemic, parents who are front-line or essential workers may face additional challenges with their parenting arrangements. Out of concern that a parent who is an essential or front-line worker may place the children at an increased risk of being exposed to COVID-19, the other parent may seek to limit or suspend that parent’s access to the children. Fortunately, the courts have released several decisions during the past month which have dealt with this very issue and which provide some guidance for parents facing similar challenges. In A.A. v R.R., … Read More

COVID – 19 / Coronavirus – Restraining Orders and Peace Bonds

Elisha Hale, LL.B (Hons) Dip.Coronavirus, COVID-19, Divorce, Family Law, Separation0 Comments

During the COVID-19 crisis, many families may be struggling with the strict self-isolating protocols put in place as a result of the global pandemic. However, individuals who are being subjected to emotional or physical abuse should be aware of their options both during and after the COVID-19 crisis to ensure both their and their children’s safety. According to the March 15, 2020 Notice to the Profession, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice will only hear urgent family law matters such as: requests for urgent relief relating to the safety of a child or parent (e.g., a restraining order, other restrictions on contact between the parties or a party and a child, or exclusive possession of the home); urgent issues that must be determined relating to the well-being of a child including essential medical decisions or issues relating to the wrongful removal or retention of a child; dire issues regarding the parties’ financial … Read More

Parenting Issues During COVID-19 / Coronavirus

Kimberley Wilton, B.Sc. (Hons.), B.A., J.D.Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), Coronavirus, COVID-19, Custody and Access, Divorce, Family Law, Interjurisdictional Disputes, Mobility Issues, Separation, Separation Agreements0 Comments

In these uncertain and unprecedented times, parenting issues have been by far the most prevalent and pressing concerns in family law. Restrictions on international travel, limitations on domestic travel, the closure of supervised access centres and public health directives have all disrupted parenting orders and agreements. Parents are placed in a difficult position of having to continue to abide by their current access arrangements, whether that be a court order, formal written agreement or informal agreement, while ensuring the health and safety of their children, and family, and following public health directives. While the Ontario Superior Court of Justice and the Ontario Court of Justice have suspended regular operations, they are still hearing urgent family law matters. There has been a slew of decisions released in the past few weeks which specifically deal with custody and access issues during the pandemic. Over seventy percent of urgent matters the court dealt … Read More

COVID-19 / Coronavirus: What Constitutes an Urgent Family Law Matter?

Kimberley Wilton, B.Sc. (Hons.), B.A., J.D.Coronavirus, COVID-19, Custody and Access, Division of Property, Divorce, Family Law, Mobility Issues, Preservation Orders, Separation0 Comments

On March 15, 2020, the Chief Justice of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice released a Notice to the Profession advising that all scheduled family law hearings were adjourned until further notice. Similarly, as of March 20, 2020 the Ontario Court of Justice adjourned all scheduled family law hearings until May 29, 2020.  Both courts continue to hear urgent and emergency family law matters. According to the March 15, 2020 Notice to the Profession, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice will only hear urgent family law matters such as: requests for urgent relief relating to the safety of a child or parent (e.g., a restraining order, other restrictions on contact between the parties or a party and a child, or exclusive possession of the home); urgent issues that must be determined relating to the well-being of a child including essential medical decisions or issues relating to the wrongful removal or retention of … Read More

Divorce and Separation: Who gets the family pet?

Elisha Hale, LL.B (Hons) Dip.Commercial, Custody and Access, Division of Property, Separation, Separation Agreements0 Comments

Upon separation or divorce, a contentious issue is often which party gets to keep the family pet. Despite furry friends often being just as important to the family as children, Ontario’s courts have refused to make custody orders in respect of family pets. Justice Timms in Warnica v Gering stated “Whether in the Family Court or otherwise, I do not believe that any court should be in the business of making custody orders for pets, disguised or otherwise…  Obviously, I acknowledge that pets are of great importance to human beings.  Strong bonds develop between them and the human beings that look after them.  To some people, the relationship with their pets takes on a significance exceeding that of any other.  They go to extraordinary lengths to preserve that relationship; even at a cost that some would say is disproportionate.  Some may consider them to be children; however, they are not children.” … Read More

COVID-19 / Coronavirus: Alternatives to Family Court

Kimberley Wilton, B.Sc. (Hons.), B.A., J.D.Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), Arbitration, Child Support, Collaborative Family Law, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Custody and Access, Division of Property, Family Law, Separation, Separation Agreements, Spousal Support0 Comments

As of March 17, 2020, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice suspended all regular operations for an indefinite period. Similarly, as of March 20, 2020 the Ontario Court of Justice suspended all regular operations until May 29, 2020. Both courts continue to hear urgent and emergency family law matters. Without access to the courts, family law litigants can still avail of a number of different options to resolve their family law disputes. Indeed, there are numerous forms of alternative dispute resolution (ADR). With consent, parties at any stage of litigation can agree to settle their issues outside of court with ADR. These processes can be a cheaper, faster, and less acrimonious way to settle family law disputes than traditional court litigation. Collaborative family law is an out-of-court resolution process which puts families first. With collaborative practice, parties work together, with their lawyers and other neutral professionals, such as family professionals … Read More

COVID-19 / Coronavirus: Can I take my child out of the province or out of the country?

Elisha Hale, LL.B (Hons) Dip.Custody and Access, Divorce, Family Law, Separation0 Comments

Given the recent COVID-19 crisis which has caused significant upheaval for many families across the world, many parents may be considering the impact of COVID-19 on their ability to travel or relocate with their child. Relocating or travelling with a child following the breakdown of a relationship is a commonly contested issue as any relocation by one party may make access or visitation with the child difficult. The relocation may be due to a new job, moving closer to family following the separation, moving to a new school or simply for a change of scenery; regardless of the reason, parties should be aware of their rights, and the other parents rights, to move their child or children out of the province or to another country. The leading Supreme Court of Canada case on this issue is Gordon v. Goertz,  which developed a two-fold test to determine whether the move should … Read More