Our family and divorce lawyers and are here to help you with your divorce or separation.
At Aaries Family Law, you are in charge of how your case is handled. Let us know your desired budget, services, and timeframe and we will approach your case with a plan that best suits your needs. Our family lawyers will provide you with outstanding customer service and solid legal advice.
Our services include:
- Spousal Support
- Child Custody and Access
- Child Support
- Matrimonial Property Division
- Matrimonial Home
- Obtaining a Divorce
- Separation Agreement
- Uncontested Divorce
- Varying a Court Order or Separation Agreement
- Gay Divorce
- Common Law Property Issues (i.e. gifts and trusts and unjust enrichment)
- Prenups: Domestic Contracts and Marital Contracts
- Legal representation for Arbitration
- Independent Legal Advice
- Family Law Lawyers
- Kingston Family Lawyer
How do you know you are getting the best family lawyer Toronto or Kingston has to offer?
You should first conduct extensive research on your divorce lawyer. The internet is a great place to start. Investigate your divorce lawyer’s website, linkedin, and any other webpages with which your divorce lawyer is affiliated. The next step is to contact your lawyer and schedule a consultation with them. The consultation is a great time to get a feel for your divorce law lawyer, ask them questions, obtain their preliminary opinion on your divorce, and to learn more about them.
At the end of the consultation, you should ask yourself how comfortable you are with this divorce lawyer? Is this the best divorce lawyer Toronto has to offer? Can I afford their legal services? Do they seem interested in my case? Do they seem like they will have the time to dedicate to my case? Are they organized? Is this legal professional competent? These are the sorts of questions you would want to ask yourself.
Make sure that your lawyer is located locally. You will not only correspond with your lawyer through phone and email, you will also need to provide them with various documents. Sometimes these documents need to be originals (marriage certificate) and sometimes you will enclose an entire package of financial disclosure for the financial aspects of divorce such as spousal support, child support, matrimonial property division, and issues relating to the matrimonial home. Therefore, if you are in Toronto, then you will need to find yourself a divorce lawyer in Toronto.
You are required to comply with the court rules concerning jurisdiction in filing and starting your divorce case. If you are resident in Toronto, then you will need to start your case in a Toronto courthouse. Therefore choose a Toronto divorce lawyer. If you have children, then you must start the case in the jurisdiction in which your children are ordinarily resident. If your children ordinarily reside in Toronto, then you should retain the services of a Toronto divorce lawyer.
Specialized divorce lawyers
Lawyers who practice only family law are most familiar with the procedural law and the substantive family law that will impact your case. You may not know this – family law follows its own procedures and does not compliment the rules of civil or criminal procedure. The best and top divorce lawyers specialize in family law. Therefore you will want a divorce lawyer who practices exclusively in the area of family law.
Your divorce lawyer should also have basic knowledge of other areas of law which tend to intermingle with family law, particularly criminal, tax, and estates law. The best lawyer should be able to consult with, or refer you to another lawyer in the event a legal issue is outside of their expertise.
If your divorce lawyer is going to represent you at trial, then they will also need to be aware of the rules of evidence, and theories in advocacy and psychology.
Learn more about your divorce lawyer
Divorce lawyers vary in their approach and philosophy to divorce. Some encourage a litigious attitude toward divorce, some approach divorce more amicably. Some encourage litigation of financial issues and more amicable approaches to child custody and access. Some are flexible depending on the client. You should be aware of your lawyer’s website as it will indicate their philosophy and approach. Usually their marketing will indicate what clientele they are trying to attract and how they are selling themselves. You should never take anyone’s marketing at face value. But if you read between the lines, you can get a sense of how your lawyer, or at least your lawyer’s firm, approaches divorce.
What to do at the consultation
When you meet with your lawyer for your consultation, you should be aware that it is only a consultation and that you are not retaining that lawyer until you formally sign a retainer agreement. Therefore, do not feel obligated to go with any particular divorce lawyer just because you chose them for your consultation. Make sure to critically evaluate your lawyer and choose the best one for your needs. Shop around. Meet with your divorce lawyer for a consultation. Then find another divorce lawyer and meet them for a consultation. Divorce lawyers usually have reduced rates for their consultations. If you are going to be spending upward of $3,000 on your divorce, then you might as well attend upon several lawyers for consultations. Depending on you’re the complexity and acrimony of your divorce, it may be in your interests to see 3 or even 4 divorce lawyers to feel them out. You will also learn more about your case along the way and learn to sniff out who is the best divorce lawyer and who isn’t.
It should be easy to find a Toronto divorce lawyer. If you live in Toronto or work in Toronto, you should be able to consult with two or more divorce lawyers. Toronto has a large family law bar and you will be able to find them in close proximity to your work or home, whichever is most convenient.
What you shouldn’t do at the consultation
If you are emotional, or in a bad place mentally, then you won’t be in a good position to evaluate your lawyer. If you use your consultation to vent and get things off your chest, then you won’t be able to evaluate your lawyer. Make sure that you have some support network in place. Contact friends and family, even those you haven’t spoken with in some time, and talk with them. This problem is particularly worse with men, who tend to lose their social circle as they get older. Women more intuitively and correctly seek out support while divorcing while men withdraw and it makes them suffer. Whether or not you are male or female, make sure that you have a support network to support you. This is for your own good. This way, when you go to the consultation, you will be in a position to decide if this divorce lawyer is the best choice for you.
Do you have children?
If you have children, it is important, for their sake, that you keep their best interests in mind. Furthermore, you must know that the law concerning custody and access is very interested in the “best interests of the child”. Custody and access is not about coming out on top. The courts do not look favorably upon parents who put their needs above their children’s. The best divorce lawyer will be realistic with you about what you can expect to achieve on the custody front. Please be aware that litigation as a means of resolving custody and access disputes should rarely be used, except in cases of the worst disagreement and acrimony. Your divorce lawyer should encourage you to seek out of court settlements for parenting issues. This would include mediation, arbitration, negotiation, or even simply settling along the way to the trial, with the help of one of the court’s conferences.
Your lawyer should be communicative
Does your divorce lawyer seem like they are a good communicator? They should be. Lawpro, the main insurer for Ontario divorce lawyers, provides guidance to lawyers to improve customer service, client satisfaction, reduce miscommunication, and to reduce the risk of negligence and mistakes. Communication is an easy to fix, but very problematic area for many lawyers. It remains one of the largest problem areas that the insurer sees. Therefore, ensure that your divorce lawyer is a good communicator, is prompt to communicate with you, and is easy to reach.
If the only thing you want a court to order is a divorce, you can apply for an uncontested divorce.
Uncontested divorce refers to a divorce proceeding in which one party files a Application for divorce, and the other does not respond to it – thereby making it uncontested. No other family or divorce law issues are dealt with in the application – only divorce. An uncontested divorce is only available for married parties. You name your spouse on the form as a respondent and serve the document on your spouse. So long as your spouse does not file an Answer in the requisite time frame, the court presumes that your spouse does not contest the divorce, and the divorce proceeds on an uncontested basis. You don’t actually file an “uncontested divorce form”. Just the standard Divorce Application Form.
You should talk with a family lawyer to learn whether an uncontested divorce would be a good option and to learn whether you are even eligible for a divorce.
If your spouse resides in Canada, then they have 30 days to refrain from responding to your Application. It they reside outside of Canada, then that time increases to 60 days. Once the spouse fails to contest the divorce – then additional procedural steps must take place. After this the timeframe varies depending on the courthouse and time of year.
A Divorce Application must be filed with a Superior Court, or a Unified Family Court (if there is one in your jurisdiction). Provincial court does not have jurisdiction to grant divorce. You must file in the jurisdiction in which one of the spouses resides. Not all courts have the ability to hear family law issues.
So long as divorce is the only relief which you seek from the court, and the divorce proceeds on an uncontested basis, then the court will consider only affidavit evidence (written evidence – and you shouldn’t be called as a witness).
Once your divorce is granted, the court will mail you a divorce order. Once the divorce is granted, you may then request a certificate of divorce, which will allow you to remarry.
The Clerk will present your papers to the judge, who will review your Affidavit and other documents and make a decision to grant a divorce.
When applying for your uncontested divorce, you should provide the court with your marriage certificate if at all possible. If it is not possible, then you will have to prove that you were married through written evidence in your Affidavit.
An affidavit is a sworn document which the court relies on as written evidence to support a position. Your divorce lawyer can help you fill in your affidavit. Usually they operate on a fixed fee basis provided that certain conditions are met.
Grounds For Divorce
The usual grounds for divorce must be met – ie. You must be living separate and apart for one whole year. Or there must be cruelty or adultery.
If you have children with your former spouse, you must make sure that they are taken care of or the court will refuse to grant your divorce. If you have children, in that same affidavit, you will want to ensure that you outline the arrangements which you have in place for the financial support of your children and make sure that there aren’t any arrears for child support. To make a stronger case – include your parenting plan and financial arrangements or a separation agreement which outlines the above.
Draft Divorce Order
You must file three copies of a draft divorce order. A stamped envelope with the address of each party,
Certificate of Divorce
If you want to get remarried, you will want to get a Certificate of Divorce. This will incur an additional cost payable to the court, however, it is often advisable to obtain this certificate at the time you obtain a Divorce so that if you choose to remarry sometime down the line, you are able to do so hassle free without revisiting the court.
If you are unable to serve your spouse with the necessary documents through the ordinary means, you will have to go through alternative method of serving your spouse. Your timeframe will increase and additional work must be done to allow the court to approve the alternative service. This increases the time duration and cost of an uncontested divorce. Additionally, you will have to have a procedural hearing to convince the court to allow the alternative service.
Our Uncontested Divorce Process looks like this:
- Preparation of Divorce Application.
- Filing the Application with the Court
- Affidavit of Service
- Serving your spouse.
- Communicating with the court if issues arise.
- Affadavit in Support of Divorce
These are costs associated with the process of obtaining a divorce:
- Service Fees.
- Court Filing Fees
- Court Fees
- Certificate of Divorce
Certificate of Divorce (optional, but recommened if you want to remarry).
Splitting a case
If you are engaged in a contested divorce, you may split the Application for Divorce from the rest of your case and deal with it separately. You may obtain a divorce order while the rest of your affairs are in the process of being finalized. However, measures must be in place to provide for the well being (parental and financial) of your children in order for a court to actually grant the divorce. If you were to split the Divorce Application from the rest of your legal proceedings, then you likely wouldn’t proceed on an uncontested basis. You would be more likely to proceed on a joint divorce Application or even on a contested basis. The process for splitting the case involves a motion for summary judgment under s.16 of the Family Law Rules and there are additional requirements which must be met.
A separation agreement is a contract between former married or common law partners which outlines the terms of their divorce or separation. All the standard family law terms can be entered into a separation.
Separation agreements address spousal support, child support, property division, the matrimonial home, and child custody and access.
A separation agreement can be formed with the help of a family lawyer, mediator, or you can even attempt to formulate your own separation agreement.
Separation agreements can be agreed to before court proceedings are started or after they are started. They can even be agreed to just prior to trial.
The courts encourage parties to settle their legal issues before a trial. The court process is designed to encourage settlement at every step of the way. Negotiating or mediating a separation agreement is a good place to start for parties who are on good terms who are likely to find agreement. It is among the more expedient and cost-effective options. It is also one of the least destructive options for your children to pursue an amicable divorce. A divorce lawyer could more effectively assess what legal options are appropriate to settle your divorce.
A separation agreement can still be negotiated after the court process has started. The court process discourages trial for the most part, with few exceptions. At every step of the way, the family law courts encourage settlement of the issues which can be settled. Often the judge or dispute resolution officer presiding over the court conferences encourages parties to find agreement, make reasonable settlement offers, and to accept reasonable settlement offers. If you form an agreement sometime along the court process, you can also enter that agreement into something known as minutes of settlement with the assistance of the court – similar to a separation agreement.
Separation agreements give parties more power than a judge has over their affairs. For example, the judge cannot award custody of pets, but the parties can come to an agreement between themselves concerning their custody arrangement of pets. Additionally, courts rarely get involved in ownership and division of household items – in a separation agreement, you can decide who gets to keeps particular items which you are attached to.
A separation agreement is a great way to resolve your financial and parenting issues. It is usually less acrimonious to attempt to resolve your divorce through a separation agreement and negotiation than to entirely attempt this through court. However, this approach should be carefully reviewed as it is not appropriate in all cases.
Out of court options like a separation agreement may not be an appropriate means of resolution if there is coercion, if one party is not disclosing their financial information, or if one party is using an out of court process to delay, stall, abuse, or hurt the other side. Additionally, it is not appropriate if one party is unreasonable in their expectations or demands.
A settlement agreement can be taken to court to be enforced. The Family Law Act and the Family Law Rules are the two statutes most relevant to the enforcement of separation agreements. Please note that just because something is in a separation agreement doesn’t mean that it is legally enforceable.
A separation agreement should be signed, dated, and witnessed. General contract law applies to separation agreements – they should be signed without coercion, duress, and other factors apply. Independent legal advice increases the likelihood that a separation agreement is enforced. It also protects both parties from agreeing to separation agreements that are against their interests.
A separation agreement can be created through negotiation between parties, or it can be created with the aid of a mediator. In either case, independent legal advice is recommended.
Independent Legal Advice
Independent legal advice is not a requirement of forming a legally enforceable separation agreement in Ontario, however it is advisable to obtain independent legal advice.
Independent legal advice protects honest parties from agreeing to contracts in ignorance, out of coercion, and it empowers them to bargain, knowing what they are legally entitled to. Independent legal advice basically increase the likelihood that your separation will be upheld in court if it is challenged. It does not guarantee that an agreement will be uphold, it only increases its likelihood. Divorce without legal advice is perilous and should only be done with a thorough cost-benefit analysis. Legal representation is even more important in a separation agreement in which there is no court process to keep things fair and transparent. It helps divorcing parties uphold their family law rights.
Independent legal advice reduces the likelihood that a party to the agreement succeeds in challenging the contract’s validity after agreeing to the contract. Divorce can be a nasty time, and one party may try to claim (nefariously or legitimately) that they were coerced into the agreement, that they didn’t understand its terms, or that they didn’t know what they were agreeing to. Independent legal advice makes it harder for such a person to try to get out of the contract. You would want the opposing side, your former partner, to obtain independent legal advice so that they are not able to weasel their way out of the contract in the future.
After obtaining Independent Legal Advice, the family lawyer will most often issue a certificate which certifies that independent legal advice was obtained. A lawyer, however, may refuse to issue a certificate if the lawyer’s legal advice is rejected by the client. For example, if the family lawyer advises against signing an agreement and the client agrees against this advice, the lawyer may refuse. Top family and divorce lawyers are concerned with the quality of their work and will do their own due diligence in reviewing both your sworn financial statement and your full financial disclosure before providing their opinion on your separation agreement.