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Posts from the ‘Children’ Category

Kids and Travel – Interactive On-line Form for Letter of Consent

passport 2

Kids and Travel – Interactive On-line Form for Letter of Consent

In past Blogs we have discussed the various issues and requirements around children’s Passports,  and the application process for obtaining them. Obtaining a Passport for a child becomes particularly important in situations of separation and divorce, since if one parent wants to travel with the child, then the other parent must usually agree to (or at least condone) the intended plans.

The Government of Canada strongly recommends that even after a valid Passport has been issued, any time there are plans made by one parent for a child to travel outside Canada, whether accompanied by that parent, alone, or with another person (e.g. a relative or family friend or in a group), a Letter of Consent should be obtained from the other parent. For these purposes, a “child” is anyone under the age of majority.

While strictly speaking it is not mandatory, the Letter of Consent serves as evidence that the child has the consent of both parents to travel. It is signed primarily by the individual(s) with the legal right to make major decisions for the child (i.e. the custodial parent or guardian); however, even if it is a parent with sole custody who is travelling with the child, to be on the safe side it is recommended that Letter of Consent be filled out by any parent or other individual with access rights.

The Letter of Consent can be presented upon demand by immigration authorities when entering or leaving a foreign country, or by Canadian immigration officials upon the child’s return. While having a Letter of Consent handy does not guarantee that there will be no difficulties crossing a border, it will likely make the process much faster and easier.
Although there is no standard form, and no official guidelines for its contents, the federal government website now has a interactive on-line form that can be modified and filled out to fit each situation. It is always recommended that the Letter be completed with as much detail as possible.

Finally, the Government of Canada has a useful Frequently Asked Questions page , which sets out the answers to questions arising in various travel scenarios.

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.

Ontario Child Custody: Who is Considered a Parent? — video


 

Wednesday’s Video Clip: Ontario Child Custody: Who is Considered a Parent?

When it relates to family law, a parent can be the birth mother or father, an adoptive parent, or a step-parent.

In this video we take a look at who is considered a parent for the purpose of child support, along with the role of step parents.

Common Questions About Child Support in Ontario – video

 
 

Wednesday’s Video Clip: Common Questions About Child Support in Ontario

In Ontario, both parents have a responsibility to financially support their children, both when they are living together and if they separate. This applies to all parents, regardless of whether they were married, living together or have never lived together.

In this video we review common questions lawyers are asked about child support, including undue hardship, reducing support, information required, and when support ends

Do 20-Something Kids Need to Stay in the Matrimonial Home for “Stability”?

20 olds

Do 20-Something Kids Need to Stay in the Matrimonial Home for “Stability”?

Common among parents these days is the complaint that their “kids” – meaning adult children over the age of 18 – are staying longer at home before moving out on their own, or worse, are returning home after finding that independent living or navigating the job market is tougher than they anticipated.

It begs the question of how much emotional and financial support young adults need (and expect) in the modern family context.

In a recent case the court had to consider whether kids in their 20s needed to remain in the luxurious former matrimonial home for “stability”, after their parents split and until a divorce trial could be held. (The question of whether for family law purposes they were considered “children of the marriage”, and therefore eligible for child support longer-term, would have to be determined at a later trial.)

The facts were these: After a 17-year marriage, the couple separated and brought a court motion to determine the question of how their $1.5 million matrimonial former home should be dealt with. Their three children – currently aged 19, 22 and 25 – were all still living in the home with the father. As the court described the situation: “there is unanimity of opinion that the children are accomplished, high functioning young men with goals and aspirations that their parents encourage and have to date supported financially and otherwise.”

During the marriage, the couple split their income, and the wife went on title as owner of the home. However the husband originally owned the land on which the home was built, had paid all the home maintenance and carrying costs throughout the marriage, and had invested $200,000 into renovations. It was still subject to a debt of about $600,000, and the husband would be seeking an equitable interest in the home at the pending divorce trial.   After a 2013 flood, the couple received insurance funds for repair, but the amount remained unspent because they were unable to agree on how those insurance funds should be spent, and when.

Against this background the wife, who had moved to the Cayman Islands to pursue studies at a veterinary college, applied to the court for an order to have the matrimonial home repaired, listed and sold.   Although the husband was not opposed to the sale at some future date, he resisted selling it now since he was adamant that the home provided security and stability for the children.

The court began by observing:

“The youngest child will become an adult in November of this year; the older two are in their twenties now. Upon the evidence currently available, whether or for how long these young men will continue to live in the matrimonial home is speculative at best.”

The court then pointed out that although the husband earned $320,000 per year, his expenses for housing himself and his sons in the existing home would likely not be satisfied by his remaining (though still substantial) income after he had paid interim spousal support to the wife pending trial.

More to the point, there was no realistic need to maintain that particular house for the stability of his adult or near-adult children, nor was there any reason to delay the repair and sale of the home until trial.   To do so would be to merely add time to the already-lengthy process of translating the asset into funds that could be allocated by the parties in the proportion yet-to-be adjudicated at trial.

The court ordered that within 30 days the parties should agree on how to spend the insurance proceeds to repair the home, failing which the wife would have the authority to deal with the insurance and repairs, and choose an agent with which to list. The court added:

“If an acceptable offer to purchase the property is received, the [wife] shall offer the respondent the opportunity to sign as a spouse on the acceptance of the offer. If the [husband] refuses to sign the offer before it expires, the [wife] is authorized hereby to proceed with the sale without the [husband’s] consent.”

For the full text of the decision, see:

Goodman v. Goodman, 2014 ONSC 3466

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.

 

Should Dad Be Refunded for Orthodontic Work That Was Never Done?

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Should Dad Be Refunded for Orthodontic Work That Was Never Done?

Determining child support obligations – including balancing out any arrears and overpayments – is all part of a day’s work for the family court. But the recent Ontario case in Chenard v. Hodgson shows that these calculations are predicated on the parties having sufficient proof, either way.

The father and mother had two children together, now aged 26 and 20. Given that both of them were over 18 and living on their own, and were no longer dependent on the parents for their education or otherwise, the father brought a motion to court to have his support obligations changed.

Among other things, he asked to have the mother repay him about $4,000, representing over $200 per month for almost two years. This amount had been included in a 2010 court order intended to cover the total estimated expense for orthodontic work for his youngest daughter. The father had been paying that monthly amount for the two years since the order was made, but now wanted the money back because he claimed that the orthodontic work had never actually been performed on her.

In reviewing the request, the court observed that the father had no evidence to prove that he paid something that should now be repaid. He had no receipts, or any kind of other documented proof that would satisfy the court. Moreover, even if he did have such proof, it could not be overlooked that he was in arrears for other child support that he owed (unrelated to the orthodontic work), which totalled over $8,500.

Until the father could provide complete evidence showing the alleged overpayments for orthodontic work he was simply not entitled to an order for the alleged repayment in this regard. (However, the court did terminate his going-forward obligations to pay for the dental work, but also made certain adjustments to take the $8,500 in child support arrears into account).

For the full text of the decision, see:

Chenard v. Hodgson, 2014 ONSC 3074 (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 our main site.

Ontario Child Support: How Do You Arrange For Support To Be Paid? – video

 

Wednesday’s Video Clip: Ontario Child Support: How Do You Arrange For Support To Be Paid?

Sometimes parents are able to work out child support payments on their own. Other times, they get help from a mediator, or a judge determines what the payments will be.

In this video we examine how support payments can be made, the need for financial information and use of the child support guidelines. Written agreements are helpful and the need for separate or independent legal advice is also discussed.

How Long Does Child Support Continue in Ontario? – video

 
 

Wednesday’s Video Clip: How Long Does Child Support Continue in Ontario?

In Ontario, child support must be paid as long as the child remains a dependent.

In this video, few review how long child support continues and when a court, or parents, should consider stopping or terminating child support payments.

Stay-At-Home Mom Ordered to Pay $30K Towards Fee for Wealthy Husband’s Expert

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Stay-At-Home Mom Ordered to Pay $30K Towards Fee for Wealthy Husband’s Expert

The father was a wealthy self-made businessman earning a half-million dollars per year, while mother was an unemployed stay-at-home mom to their daughter, whom the court referred to as their “love child”. After separation, the father had generously set up the mother and child in a rent-free/mortgage-free home to live in.

After a 9-day family law trial that took six years to reach court, joint custody was granted, with the father being ordered to pay $3,750 per month in child support. This amount was vastly lower than what the mother had claimed.

A separate court hearing was held to determine what portion of legal costs were payable by each of them. In the mother’s case, she had spent $213,000 in legal fees and costs, while the father had spent about $172,000.

As part of this exercise, the court honed in on the expert fees that had been paid by each of them. It started by saying that “the parties incurred almost obscene expenses for expert testimony”. Specifically, the mother had paid her expert almost $100,000; yet the court chimed in that “Her expert was of no help to me (or to her)”. Similarly, the fee for the father’s expert was about $60,000 (although the court conceded that the resulting report was indeed helpful).

The trial itself had resolved a number of issues (including support, custody and access), but there was no clear winner: numerous offers had been exchanged over the six years but only on the eve of trial did the father make an offer that would have put the mother “miles ahead”, had she accepted it. Conversely, the mother persisted in taking the matter to trial in “dogged pursuit” of an amount of child support that was unreasonable in the circumstances.

The court noted that the apportionment of legal costs usually proceeds on a costs-follow-the-event basis; they must also be fair and reasonable in the circumstances, and must be in line with the expectations of the losing side. It also acknowledged that in the mother’s financial circumstances she would have difficulty paying even her own lawyer’s bill, let alone any portion of the father’s costs.

Still, it was appropriate in this case to order the mother to pay $30,000 towards the fee the father paid to his expert. The parties were otherwise each responsible for their own costs.

For the full text of the decision, see:

Goetz v. McConnell (2014), 2014 ONSC 2910

Additional reasons to (2013), 2013 ONSC 7949

 

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.

Mother Claims 6-Year Delay in Seeking Child Support Due to Father’s Mental Health Issues – But Court Doesn’t Buy It

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Mother Claims 6-Year Delay in Seeking Child Support Due to Father’s Mental Health Issues – But Court Doesn’t Buy It

In Williams v. Rezonja, the couple’s relationship started after a “blind date” and resulting in their having a child together. They got engaged, but never did marry.

Although their relationship was apparently at first, it quickly deteriorated after the child was born. The woman said the man started to exhibit bizarre behaviour, which she said came “out of nowhere”. He stopped interacting with her and the child, and she could never be sure whether he was going to work at his well-paying job or not. He told other people she was “out to get him”, and sometimes slept on the couch in his clothes, with his keys in his pocket.

When the woman met her future mother-in-law, they agreed that he should be assessed. After this, he stopped coming communicating with her or coming home. He stayed with his mother, who conceded that he had been admitted to a mental health facility for a few days. Soon after, the woman got a letter from is lawyer, advising that she needed to move out of the house that they shared, and which was in the man’s name.

The woman – who was unemployed at the time – did move out as requested. She took the child with her, and found a job in order to support herself. She eventually claimed child support from the man – but not until about 6 years later.

The court heard evidence that although she knew where to reach the man, the woman chose not to ask him for child support for all those years because she felt it was “unsafe” for her and the child to be anywhere near him. Although he had not threatened her verbally or physically, she said she had concerns for safety and if he was possibly unwell felt she did not want him involved with the child at all.

The man’s version of events was that the woman ended the relationship, and that he was depressed for a period of time. He had indeed been admitted to a psychiatric unit for 2 to 3 weeks, and was off work for 2 years, but said that he was now healthy. He believed that his problems were directly caused by the woman’s treatment of him.

The court did a balanced evaluation of the evidence, considering all the relevant factors, including: the reasons for the woman’s delay; the conduct of the man; the circumstances of the child; and any hardship a retroactive award might cause the man. No single factor is decisive, it pointed out.

Next, the court began by pointing out that as parents, both parties had an obligation to ensure their child receives appropriate support in a timely manner.
Here, the woman’s stated reason for delay were unconvincing; the court found she exaggerated her fear of the man and the potential for retaliation, and was certainly sophisticated enough to have sought legal advice. In short, the court found that she did not pursue child support because she was prepared to “go it alone”.

Turning to the man, the court found that he was blameworthy to some extent, too. He appears to have concluded, based on the fact that mother was not pursing him for support, that he was “home-free” and would not be on the hook financially. As the court put it: “There was an obvious incentive to continue to ignore that which he otherwise knew was his legal obligation.”

With all this in mind, the court concluded that this was not a case for retroactive child support for the full six years. The mother had clearly demonstrated that she wanted nothing to do with the father and was prepared to raise the child on her own. The court did, however, award support for the period starting December 1, 2012, which is the month following the date of the woman’s court application.

For the full text of the decision, see:

Williamson v. Rezonja, 2014 ONCJ 72 (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 our main site.

Does The Age of The Child Affect Child Support in Ontario? – video

 
 

Wednesday’s Video Clip: Does The Age of The Child Affect Child Support in Ontario?

Simply put, the age of a child does affect the amount of child support ordered.

In this video, Shelley, a Law Clerk with Russell Alexander Family Lawyers, discusses how and when the age of the child could affect child support. Income considerations, age of the child and needs of the child should be considered.