Family law is important to know. Whether you are married, cohabitating with somebody, in a common law relationship, divorced, or separated, the laws around family law affect you and you need to be aware of the legal consequences of your living arrangements.
Before you get married, you may be living with a partner for some time. You may have thought about what are the consequences when two people who are unmarried live together. If you are thinking about drafting a cohabitation agreement, you may wish to speak to an Ontario family lawyer to discuss whether or not you should have a cohabitation agreement and if you choose to proceed with one, to ensure that the agreement is what you are looking for because an agreement is only as useful as one that meets your needs and protects your rights at the end of the day. This is not an area of law where you should get a "boilerplate" or template agreement as it may not fit your needs and any mistakes can be much more costly in the future compared to doing proper planning beforehand.
Generally speaking, when you get married, the law looks at your marriage as an equal economic partnership. Although generally speaking the value of the property you acquired while you were married will be divided in half upon separation, there are exceptions to this rule. Husband and wife also have an equal right to stay in a family home. If you separate, it could be tricky to decide who gets to live there. There are also issues surrounding spousal support and child support when your marriage ends. Some couples may think that these laws do not suit their needs. This is where people enter into a marriage contract or prenup (prenuptial agreement). Both parties should speak to a lawyer and get independent legal advice (ILA) and exchange financial information before signing any important legal documents.
That being said, you cannot put everything into a marriage contract. For example, custody and access arrangements for children. However, you may wish to describe how support payments will be made to the other spouse or how to divide property upon separation. Questions about when spousal or child support ends or how much is payable? You can speak to an Ontario family law lawyer for more information. Which law applies to your situation - provincial Family Law Act or federal Divorce Act? Depends on your marital status and it is important to know what each act covers.
If you are not married, but living with somebody, you may be interested to know how the law affect your rights to property and support. The courts have a right to make orders for support, even if you are unmarried. That's why couples in a common-law relationship may wish to consider a cohabitation agreement if they wish to have their rights noted in writing beforehand.
There are many things to consider when a relationship dissolves. When there's a separation, you will have to determine who stays at home, who takes care of the kids, who pays the bills, how much support should be paid, and how to divide your assets. These issues can be resolved in a variety of ways. You can come to an agreement in the form of a separation agreement. You can each get lawyers to help you negotiate such an agreement. You may wish to consider mediation or arbitration to resolve disputes. You can have an informal arrangement. When all else fails, you can go to court and have to court decide for you. It's not always possible to negotiate directly with a spouse, especially if there is violence or intimidation involved. In such cases, you may wish to have a lawyer and ask the lawyer to suggest which approach would work best, such as working with a mediator or an arbitrator. It may be better to work with third parties as it may be difficult to negotiate directly with your spouse in circumstances where there's intimidation or threats.
Family law also encompasses Child Protection Law. There may be instances where Children's Aid Society may get involved if they believe there are issues involving a child's safety at home. Sometimes, schools or daycares may report suspected child abuse or neglect, in order to protect a child. If you need assistance regarding child protection laws, including foster parents or crown wards, you should speak to a family law lawyer who has expertise in doing child protection work.
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