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Splitting the Costs of Kids’ Hockey

Ice hockey sticks

Splitting the Costs of Kids’ Hockey

Kids’ hockey is big in many families, and when the parents split, the proper division of what are sometimes hefty ongoing costs can become contentious.

In broad terms, the issue is governed by the federal Child Support Guidelines, which under its section 7(1)(f) allows for the payment by parents of what are called “extraordinary expenses for extracurricular activities”. Under the wording of that provision, these expenses must be justified by taking into account:

1) the means of the parents,

2) the family’s spending pattern prior to separation; and

3) various listed financial factors (which include the amount by which the expenses exceed what the support-receiving parent can cover, bearing in mind his or her existing income), or else a court-initiated evaluation of the costs in relation to various criteria (including the overall costs, as well as the child’s particular talents).

In more practical terms, this means that the courts’ treatment and allocation of hockey-related expenses will always vary according to the particular facts. However, a glimpse at a recent case illustrates the real-life manner in which courts approach this exercise.

In the New Brunswick case called C. (J.) v. C. (M.),l the court considered the hockey-related expenses of an older daughter of parents who had separated. Since then, the girl’s school marks had slipped from A’s and B’s down to C’s, she had engaged in some self-harming behaviour, and she had apparently acted out some family-related frustrations and anger by striking a referee, for which she was temporarily suspended from play.

The father wanted the mother to pay her proportionate share of the full $3,500 in hockey expenses for the year. The mother wanted the expenses capped at $1,500 per year, with each parent paying half.

The court considered the circumstances:

It is the older girl’s ice hockey costs and anticipated costs that have caused the most significant financial issue dividing the parents. The importance of her love for hockey cannot be overlooked as it appears to be an important stabilizing influence in her life. Without a doubt it is in her best interests to continue playing (See, in this regard s. 7(1) of the Federal Child Support Guidelines SOR/97-175). The father testified that he fears: “losing her” if she does not continue in hockey. She is a goaltender and in the fall of 2014 she will likely begin playing for a Bantam AAA girl’s hockey team. The team plays throughout New Brunswick as well as other Maritime Provinces and elsewhere. Although she currently plays at the level below, because of her age, she is affiliated as a backup goalie this year for the team she expects to play with next year.

None of this would likely be an issue except that these parents are not persons of considerable financial means. The father earns just over $38,300.00 per year while the mother earned $32,400.00 per year last year. She recently started a new job for which she will be on probation for the first six months receiving a salary of $36,000.00.

The father claims that the hockey expenses for this year for the older daughter totaled $3,399.87 … These claimed expenses include registration, equipment, travel costs to out of town games and tournaments and fuel costs for the father to transport his daughter to practice thirty five kilometres outside the City … The mother says she has offered to take her daughter to every second practice but the father says the daughter does not want her mother to transport her. She believes that she should only be responsible for her share of registration, equipment and tournament costs.

In the end – and after lamenting that only partial estimates of the future hockey-related expenses had been provided – the court struck somewhat of a compromise, deciding that only certain hockey expenses were subject to being shared by the parents. The court observed that hockey seemed to be “a principal support in [the daughter’s] social world without which her sense of wellbeing would be seriously impacted”, and even expressed hope that it might serve to strengthen the fractious relationship between mother and daughter. The court wrote:

I am reluctant to attempt to devise a formula to pay for this anticipated cost when there is only the cost experience of the lower level hockey team this past year to guide the evaluation process. It is a reasonable inference to draw that as children rise to higher levels of athletic competition the costs associated with such achievements rise, in some instances, dramatically. However, without some evidence of the actual annual costs for members of the Bantam AAA team this past season it is impossible to predict what those costs might be for this family.

At this point I will accede to the request of [the wife] and adopt her proposal of capping expenses at 1,500.00. I am doing so bearing in mind that … Travel Expenses to Games and Practices [were estimated] at $1,330.40 and season total expenses at $3,399.87. I believe that any travel to local practices even if it is to a hockey arena 35 kilometres outside the City … should be accounted for under the heading of ordinary expenses associated with child support already being paid. The mother will be responsible for $690.00 as her pro rata share. …

With some reluctance I will insert a review clause on the issue of the 2014-2015 hockey season costs for the older daughter once it has been determined what team she will be part of for the upcoming season and a proposed budget has been prepared itemizing the costs that will be incurred. … However, local travel costs to [sic] are not to be included in any proposed budget. This may serve to promote a sharing of the local travelling responsibility for getting their daughter to practice between the mother and father, something the mother would like to see happen. Spending uninterrupted time together travelling back and forth to practice may help promote a more healthy relationship between them. …

The court also inserted a review clause in the order, so that the division of costs could be revisited once it became clear whether the daughter was going to be chosen for the Bantam AAA team (in which event the hockey-related costs were anticipated to increase significantly). It also ordered that any hockey expenses were to be discussed between the parents before being actually incurred, as this had not happened in the past despite a clear term in the Separation Agreement that called for it.

For the full text of the decision, see:

C. (J.) v. C. (M.), 2014 NBBR 161, 2014 NBQB 161

At Russell Alexander, Family Lawyers our focus is exclusively family law, offering pre-separation legal advice and assisting clients with family related issues including: custody and access, separation agreements, child and spousal support, division of family property, paternity disputes, and enforcement of court orders. For more information, visit us at www.RussellAlexander.com

In a Failed Romance, Can You Sue for Negligence?

upset

In a Failed Romance, Can You Sue for Negligence?

In a case called Danovic v. Wagner, the Ontario court recently had to consider a rather novel argument: that one person in a failed romantic relationship might be “negligent” toward the other for their treatment (or mis-treatment, as the case may be), and therefore liable in damages.

As bad internet dates go, the facts of the case were quite noteworthy: The man, a university professor in his late 50s, had met the woman, who was unemployed and in her late 40s, on an internet dating site. They started communicating by email and phone; they met in person only four times over a 2- to 3-week period, and engaged in consensual sex each time. Despite the fact that the man made it clear he wanted a casual, non-committed, non-exclusive relationship, the woman was obviously expecting something more permanent and monogamous between them. Things became acrimonious, and when inevitably the man tried to break it off completely, the woman falsely claimed she was pregnant, embarked on a campaign of both direct and anonymous harassment and intimidation, and contacted the man’s girlfriend, relatives, friends, and employer with various complaints and allegations about him.

Ultimately, the woman (who had no lawyer and represented herself) sued the man in court for $100,000 in damages; among her various assertions was that he “lied and cheat on [her] to get someone for ‘his bedroom’”. She asked the court to “punish [the man] for his inhuman deeds” in order to teach him a lesson on “how to behave himself in the future.”

After trying to discern the legal basis for the claim, and after patiently examining the relevant correspondence between them along with other evidence, the court assessed the parties’ respective positions. In short, the court found that the woman’s many claims were ill-founded or lacked a legal basis.

However, it focused in particular on what appeared to be a claim for damages arising from the man’s alleged negligence in connection with their failed relationship. In considering what the court called this “apparently novel” claim, it ruled that the tort of negligence simply could not be extended to failed romantic relationships. Policy considerations precluded the court from finding the required duty of care between relationship partners, and legislatures have pointedly moved away from encouraging inquiries or finger-pointing on the issue of who may have been responsible for any relationship failure, with one key example being changes that established no-fault divorce laws in Canada. As the court put it:

In my view, having regard to such developments, the tort of negligence cannot be extended to failed intimate relationships, in the manner effectively suggested by the plaintiff, without significantly undermining such very deliberate and overt statements of modern legislative policy.

It is hard to imagine anything more counter-productive … than a tort deliberately aimed at providing former lovers, spouses and other intimate partners with a litigious forum in which to publicly air their emotional grievances; e.g., with a view to obtaining some kind of moral condemnation and vindication.

Nor does it seem likely that there would be any shortage of those interested in embracing such a litigious weapon, (bearing in mind that there would seem to be no logical reason for restricting its availability to those engaged in a short 2-3 week relationship, involving just four meetings in person).

Failed intimate relationships, with resulting emotional distress and suggestions of perceived reprehensible conduct leading to such failures, unfortunately have been with us from time immemorial.

Moreover, as Congreve noted more than three centuries ago, love may bring out the best in humanity, but its failure sadly also tends to bring out the worst. Had he been writing in more enlightened and gender-neutral times, his famous lines from The Mourning Bride no doubt would have been recast as an observation that “Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor Hell a fury like a lover scorned”.

This case provides another lamentable example of that age-old phenomenon, playing itself out yet again.

This case demonstrates that no good and much harm would flow from recognizing a tort of negligence, expanded so as to apply to intimate relationships.

The man was successful in his motion to declare that the action was frivolous, vexatious or an abuse of process, and that it disclosed no reasonable cause of action against him. He also succeeded in establishing that it had been brought for the main (and improper) purpose of harassing him. The court said:

In short, everything before me indicates this litigation is simply the latest tool employed by the plaintiff in an effort to secure her principal goals of exacting vengeance and exerting coercion by destroying the defendant’s life, and making him miserable, because the parties’ 2-3 week relationship did not proceed or progress in the manner desired by the plaintiff, and because the defendant wants nothing more to do with her.

She openly threatened to use litigation in that deliberately abusive way, and she now has made good on that additional threat.

None of this can be condoned or permitted.

For the full text of the decision, see:

Danovic v. Wagner, 2014 ONSC 2664 (CanLII)

 

At Russell Alexander, Family Lawyers our focus is exclusively family law, offering pre-separation legal advice and assisting clients with family related issues including: custody and access, separation agreements, child and spousal support, division of family property, paternity disputes, and enforcement of court orders. For more information, visit us at www.RussellAlexander.com.

Child Support in Ontario: Introduction to Child Custody — video

 

Wednesday’s Video Clip: Child Support in Ontario: Introduction to Child Custody

In Ontario, like other jurisdictions, both parents have a responsibility to financially support their children. For the spouse without custody, the amount of child support that must be paid is based on income and the number of children. In this short video clip we examine child custody and answers questions many people have about child support.

To learn more about child support visit our website at www.russellalexander.com or join us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/RussellAlexanderFamilyLawyers

 

Should The Police Be Arresting Lawyers in Robes In The Courthouse?

robes

We recently came across an interesting statement regarding the arrest of an Ontario Lawyer at the Brampton Court House.  The statement reads:

Statement by the County & District Law Presidents’ Association regarding the arrest of a defense counsel at the A. Grenville & William Davis Courthouse on February 13, 2015

The County and District Law Presidents’ Association has been greatly concerned with the reports surrounding the arrest of Laura Liscio. In light of the Peel Police clarification of the circumstances of the arrest in the Peel Courthouse on Friday, February 13th, CDLPA feels compelled to set out its concerns regarding this regrettable incident, as it understands the facts.

First, it is clear that the police officers making the arrest had many more discrete and appropriate options available when confronting Ms. Liscio. One of the reasons that members of the bar are adorned in robes while in court is to promote respect for the administration of justice and symbolize the respect that officers of the court and the court itself deserve. This respect for tradition and the role of the court officers is a fundamental tenet of our justice system. Based upon the nature of the alleged offence and the facts as we know them, the officers over-reacted to the situation by handcuffing Ms. Liscio and ushering her, in public, to a waiting police car at the front door of the court. Once the officers observed Ms. Liscio handing over clothing to her client they could have just as easily informed her discretely that she was under suspicion for passing along illicit contraband and asked her to accompany them to a police station for further questioning. Ms. Liscio was not a flight risk and, because she was already past courthouse security, there was no threat that she was carrying a weapon.

Second, CDLPA is concerned that the practices of police in courthouses and Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services staff across Ontario who refuse to facilitate handing over clothing to incarcerated individuals, who remain innocent until proven guilty, as they move back and forth between jail and the courts puts the onus to do this onto the defence counsel. This activity, which many lawyers already refuse to do, is putting members of the bar at risk while they try to carry out their role of assisting and advising their clients. It is easy to understand how a lawyer can be put into a situation where they unknowingly or unwittingly pass something along, and we think the time is ripe for policies to be reviewed and appropriate directions provided.

Our final concern is that this case may become an excuse to clamp down on lawyers who are entering the courthouse and subject them to searches. CDLPA and other legal associations representing the practising bar in Ontario have long been concerned with any move that would require search of a lawyer as they enter the courthouse. Protection of confidential client information and the fundamental nature of solicitor-client privilege is all compromised when courthouse security is given permission to search a lawyer as they enter a courthouse. Recent amendments to law put forward under Bill 35 (An Act to repeal 00285034-1 the Public Works Protection Act, amend the Police Services Act with respect to court security and enact the Security for Electricity Generating Facilities and Nuclear Facilities Act, 2014) entrench this principle of protection of privilege into law, and we are eager to see it protected in practice as well.county

Not all of the facts of this particular case are known, but from what is known so far, CDLPA has strong concerns that this case is indicative of a mindset that is seeping into Ontario’s justice system which does not respect the role of the practising bar in the justice system. If Ms. Liscio is guilty of knowingly trafficking in drugs, then the criminal justice system, and likely the Law Society of Upper Canada will impose penalties. Our concern relates to the overall respect for those who work within the justice system and CDLPA hopes that this case remains an isolated instance.

Cheryl Siran

 Chair,

 The County & District Law Presidents’ Association

 So what do you think?  Should the police be arresting lawyers at the courthouse?

Can Private School Be a Necessary and Reasonable Child Expense?

LCS

Can Private School Be a Necessary and Reasonable Child Expense?
In one interesting Ontario case recently, the court found that private school tuition was a reasonable and necessary expense for the two children of separated parents, despite the fact that it represented a “huge proportion” of the post-tax income for the family.

The couple met in 1995, married in 2003, and had three children together. The two youngest currently attended Lycée Français private school, and were able to do so on a reduced-fee basis since their mother was herself a teacher and enjoyed a tuition discount as part of her employment benefits.

Prior to separation, the parents tended to live beyond their means, and the financial strain contributed to the breakdown of their marriage. After they split up in 2012, the mother had custody of the children; in the context of requesting support from the father, she asked him to help pay for their ongoing private school fees. She pointed out that since the family had always sent the children to private school when they were together, they should continue to do so after they split up.

The father resisted, pointing out that he was no longer earning at the same level of income he had enjoyed during the relationship, mainly because post-separation he had been forced to suspend operation of his home-based business when the mother took sole possession of the matrimonial home as the parent with custody. And with his income now greatly reduced – and since there were now two separate households to keep financially afloat – private school tuition was not a reasonable “special expense” (as that term is defined under s. 7 of the federal Child Support Guidelines, which governs parents’ support obligations). The father also pushed to have the matrimonial home sold, so that he could resume his business and use the assets to upgrade his equipment; the mother objected to the sale on the basis that the children needed the stability of a familiar home and neighborhood.

The court was asked to resolve the dispute. It began by providing an overall positive assessment of both parties, as follows:
Both impressed me as decent, hardworking people who want the best for their children and whose worst failings may well have been a tendency to live somewhat beyond their means in order to provide their children with a decent standard of living and in particular a good education.

With that said, the court promptly ordered the matrimonial home to be sold, reasoning as follows:

I accept [the father’s] evidence that he requires new equipment to be competitive in his business and that without the cash from the sale of the home, he has no way to obtain it. Any disruption that the children might experience in moving from this home will be offset by the increased financial security of the family and particularly their father’s ability to re-establish his own business, earn more money, pay more child support and contribute to their tuition fees.

As for the private school tuition itself, under the Guidelines the court had to consider considered whether the fees were necessary and reasonable in the circumstances.

In this case, it was clear that during the marriage both parents agreed that a private school education was to be given a high priority, even though it was always a stretch for them. As such, it met the test of being “necessary” for this particular family.

However, whether the fees were considered “reasonable” depended on several things. Unless the matrimonial home was sold, the father’s income would remain around the $60,000 mark and even the reduced tuition of $10,000 amounted to a large proportion of after-tax income. However, since the court ordered the home to be sold, the financial impact would be different: While stopping short of concluding that private school tuition was reasonable for this family generally – or that it was automatically a necessary and reasonable expense for other families – the court found that all things considered the combination of the reduced tuition fees and the newly-available capital (ear-marked to fund the father’s return to operating the business) would bring the fees within the realm of what was reasonable for these particular parents in their unique circumstances.

The court accordingly ordered the mother and father to share the private school tuition at levels that were proportionate to their respective incomes.

For the full text of the decision, see:

Honorat v. Jean-Paul, 2014 ONSC 6895

 

At Russell Alexander, Family Lawyers our focus is exclusively family law, offering pre-separation legal advice and assisting clients with family related issues including: custody and access, separation agreements, child and spousal support, division of family property, paternity disputes, and enforcement of court orders. For more information, visit us at www.RussellAlexander.com

Can Wife’s Stepfather, a Suspended Former Lawyer, Represent Her in Court?

court door

Can Wife’s Stepfather, a Suspended Former Lawyer, Represent Her in Court?

I have written recently about the upsurge in self-represented litigants in Family Law proceedings, and some of the inherent dangers involved in choosing to act on your own and forego being represented by an experienced lawyer.

In a recent Ontario case called Scarlett v. Farrell, the mother in a custodial dispute likely thought she had the next-best thing: she asked the court permission to have her step-father – who was a former lawyer with about 200 trials under his belt – represent her at the hearing.

Perhaps surprisingly, the court refused.

The background facts of the case were not remarkable: the mother had custody of the 7-year old child, and the father had seen the child only once in three years. Nonetheless, the father was now seeking full custody. The mother claimed she could not afford to hire a lawyer but had been denied Legal Aid; she wanted to have her step-father appear on her behalf in court.

Normally, courts will not intervene in allowing a family litigant to choose his or her own lawyer, nor will it lightly interfere with a litigant’s decision to represent him or herself. And one would think that a court would have little objection over allowing the mother to be represented in court by a former lawyer, and family member to boot.

But in this case, the court had concerns over the mother’s choice: not only was the mother’s step-father currently under suspension with the Law Society of Upper Canada for failure to pay administrative fees (and was therefore not permitted to practice law), but he also had a past disciplinary record with them – which included previous suspensions for professional misconduct.

Given that suspension – and despite having over 30 years’ experience in practice — the step-father was technically a non-lawyer at this stage, and the court had to consider him as such. The rules of court provided only limited circumstances in which a non-lawyer can appear, and another judge had already denied a similar request by the mother to have the step-father represent her.

But more to the point, the court was particularly concerned in this case that the step-father would not conduct himself with honesty, integrity, and forthrightness if he was allowed to represent the mother. (And it pointed out that the step-father had not disclosed his past disciplinary record to the court voluntarily; it came to light when the father brought it to the court’s attention, after discovering that the step-father was using a different name in court than he had used for Law Society records). Nor, for that matter, would the step-father be likely to maintain the required level of objectivity and “appropriate emotional distance” in the matter.

Although the circumstances were unusual, the court’s concern with the integrity of the justice system were uppermost. It would compromise the underlying values of that system to allow a suspended or disbarred lawyer to appear before the court.
In the end, the court refused the mother’s request (with which, incidentally, she was assisted by her own mother), but adjourned the trial to allow her a chance to appeal the Legal Aid rejection or find a way to come up with the money to hire a lawyer.

For the full text of the decision, see:

Scarlett v. Farrell, [2014] O.J. No. 1913, 2014 ONCJ 194

At Russell Alexander, Family Lawyers our focus is exclusively family law, offering pre-separation legal advice and assisting clients with family related issues including: custody and access, separation agreements, child and spousal support, division of family property, paternity disputes, and enforcement of court orders. For more information, visit our main site.

Obligations to Pay Child Support Even with Undue Hardship – video

Wednesday’s Video Clip: Obligations to Pay Child Support Even with Undue Hardship

In this video we review a court decision from earlier this year, the court confirmed that a father was still obligated to pay support for his two children from a first marriage even though:

1) he no longer had a relationship with them;

2) he had a new family (and two other small children) to support; and

3) the child support obligation would cause him undue hardship, in light of his difficult financial circumstance

At Russell Alexander, Family Lawyers our focus is exclusively family law, offering pre-separation legal advice and assisting clients with family related issues including: custody and access, separation agreements, child and spousal support, division of family property, paternity disputes, and enforcement of court orders. For more information, visit us at www.RussellAlexander.com.

Considerations for Separated Parents Traveling Abroad

travel

Considerations for Separated Parents Traveling Abroad

We were recently browsing through Jeff Lander’s article Divorced Women: Take Precautions Before Your Children Travel Internationally With Your Ex-Husband published in Forbes. Jeff offers an interesting take on the dangers of allowing your children to travel internationally with your husband, although really these warnings could be equally applicable for either spouse.

The warnings presented by Jeff in his article should be considered seriously by divorced parents in Ontario, but it may be wise to take a second and consider whether it would be preferable to avoid escalating things. Jeff’s advice to require a bond or financial insurance from your spouse before allowing travel should not be the status quo for most divorced couples and although the article makes the practice of requesting a “Ne Exeat” bond seem typical this is not the case in Ontario.

 

In Ontario, even though you may not trust your spouse, unless you have evidence proving that s/he is a flight risk, the default assumption is that s/he should be allowed to travel internationally with your children. This is the position that most courts would take in Ontario and it would be wise to keep that in mind before trying anything rash. The court will decide these kinds of custody and access issues by considering the “best interests” of the children and in most cases it will be found to be in the children’s interests to be allowed to go on a vacation with either spouse.

In the case where you do believe that the other parent is a flight risk Ontario women can take steps to protect their children. If seriously concerned it may be the best course of action to immediately initiate a court action in order to keep the children in a safe place or to get a court order for possession of their passports. In situations where it is only a possible flight risk, then it may not be wise or financially plausible to take this route. An alternate solution would be to take a page out of Mr. Lander’s article and negotiate having your spouse pay a bond into court or to you in the style mentioned in the article. This middle of the road solution could save you from an otherwise heated and expensive battle in court.

In most cases in Ontario, when a parent wants to travel internationally with their children, the only thing they require is a letter of consent to travel from their spouse. A consent letter may be requested by immigration authorities when leaving the country, when entering or leaving a foreign country or upon re-entry to Canada. A common courtesy in this situation is for the traveling parent to provide the travel itinerary for the children in advance of the trip to the parent remaining at home and all relevant contact information. This is not a requirement under Ontario law but it can be incorporated as a requirement under a separation agreement or in a court order where young children are involved.

To learn more about divorce in Ontario, contact Russell Alexander, Collaborative Family Lawyers. Russell Alexander focuses exclusively on family law, offering pre-separation legal advice and assisting clients with family related issues including: custody and access, separation agreements, child and spousal support, division of family property, paternity disputes, and enforcement of court orders. For more information, visit our main site.

Judges Speak Out About Self-Represented Litigants

loud

Judges Speak Out About Self-Represented Litigants

As family lawyers, we are well-aware of the common criticism by those involved in family disputes and litigation: that hiring a lawyer is expensive.

Although it may seem self-serving to point out the benefits of retaining experienced family law representation for your case, we can do one better: Here are some illustrations of the types of comments made by judges themselves about the difficulties of untangling the merits of a case when self-represented (or otherwise unrepresented) litigants – admirably as they may try – are unable to put forward their best case due to the lack of legal training.

For example, in a case called Leigh v. Milne, the Court of Appeal lamented the slow pace at which the family litigation had proceeded:

The Process

At the outset, let me address [the wife’s] concern about the process, culminating in the order under appeal. This proceeding on appeal is a graphic example of how difficult it is for a self-represented litigant to effectively navigate through the legal system. While the Courts struggle to adapt to the ever-increasing numbers of self-represented litigants, the legal system remains a process which works most effectively for litigants who are represented by lawyers. Judges expect that lawyers will police one another in order to keep a case moving forward at an acceptable pace and, when necessary, seek the assistance of the court to do so. Unfortunately, this leaves proceedings where one and, especially, where both of the litigants are unrepresented, susceptible to being unreasonably delayed by the party who does not want the matter to proceed. This is what occurred here.

In the recent Ontario decision called Szakacs v. Clarke, the court complained about the quality of court documents that had been filed in connection with a family case:

In self-represented litigation, the “pleadings” rarely reflect meaningful details of the issues to be tried. In this case, after reviewing the various orders in the trial record, I ventured further and read the notices of motion and the supporting affidavits leading to those orders for the purpose of learning the specifics of the dispute. This allowed me, when the parties were testifying, to raise certain matters that they had omitted or had wrongly concluded were unimportant. A trial judge should not be put in the position of having to find, present, argue and decide a case. Wearing that number of hats is unbecoming.

Finally, courts are mindful of the potential unfairness to the other side. While being willing to recognize that – out of a sense of judicial and procedural fairness – a self-represented litigant should perhaps be given a little more lee-way in connection with having to follow court rules and procedures to the letter, the court must still ensure that both sides of a family dispute get the fair hearing to which they are entitled. This was pointed out in a case called Baziuk v. Dunwoody, where the court said:

The problem of unrepresented parties, who may not be familiar with law and procedure, is one which is facing courts today with an ever increasing frequency. Courts are mindful of a degree of understanding and appreciation which should appropriately be extended to such parties. However, notwithstanding the difficulty with such parties attempting to properly represent themselves, courts must also balance the issues of fairness and be mindful of both, or all parties. Issues of fairness of course must always be determined in accordance with accepted legal principles and the law which has developed. A sense of fairness and understanding granted to unrepresented parties ought never to extend to the degree where courts do not give effect to the existing law, or where the issue of fairness to an unrepresented litigant is permitted to over ride the rights of a defendant party.

The point to take away from this, is that the decision to represent yourself in your family dispute may seem cheaper financially, but may have hidden costs in connection with the judge’s own perception and assessment of the merits. Make sure you make the right decision for your particular case.

For the full text of the decisions, see:

Leigh v. Milne, 2010 NSCA 36

Szakacs v. Clarke, 2014 ONSC 7487

Baziuk v. Dunwoody (1997), 13 C.P.C. (4th) 156; [1997] O.J. No. 2374 (QL) (Ont. C.J. (Gen. Div.)

At Russell Alexander, Family Lawyers our focus is exclusively family law, offering pre-separation legal advice and assisting clients with family related issues including: custody and access, separation agreements, child and spousal support, division of family property, paternity disputes, and enforcement of court orders. For more information, visit us at www.RussellAlexander.com.

Top 5 questions about spousal support in Ontario, Canada – video

 
Wednesday’s Video Clip: Top 5 questions about spousal support in Ontario

In this video we review the top 5 questions about spousal support in Ontario, Canada.

Spousal support — which is sometimes called “maintenance” or (especially in the U.S.) “alimony” — is money paid from one spouse to the other after the dissolution of the relationship. The obligation to pay spousal support is a legal one, and may arise either from a marriage, or from a common-law relationship.

The obligation for one spouse to pay spousal support to the other does not arise automatically from the fact that the parties had a relationship together (whether formally married or common law). Rather, the spouse who is claiming spousal support must prove an entitlement to it.

At Russell Alexander, Family Lawyers our focus is exclusively family law, offering pre-separation legal advice and assisting clients with family related issues including: custody and access, separation agreements, child and spousal support, division of family property, paternity disputes, and enforcement of court orders. For more information, visit us at www.RussellAlexander.com.