Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Education’ Category

GM Oshawa Assembly Plant Closing & Divorce

The Ghosts of GM: Past, Present and Future

On November 26, 2018, the General Motors Company (GM) announced that it will cease allocating new product to its Oshawa assembly plant beyond the end of 2019. This came as a shock to the 2,500 employees who work at the Oshawa plant and the many more who depend on their income. While the jury is still out on whether GM will be laying off or re-training its 2,500 employees, one thing is certain—a large cohort of GM’s employees stand to lose their livelihood.

Whether laid off or re-trained, employees who have a potential, current or settled family law matter will need to govern themselves wisely to weather the impact that closure will have on their day-to-day lives. Accordingly, this post explores the likely, and, not so likely, family law implications of GM’s closure of its once thriving Oshawa assembly plant.

The Ghost of GM Past: Settled Family Law Matters

If your family law matter was previously settled by way of a Separation Agreement or Final Order, the loss of employment income may trigger a review of child support or spousal support, or parenting.

Support obligations

It is likely that the loss of employment income will mean that you cannot afford to pay child support and/or spousal support as set out in a Separation Agreement or Final Order. In the case of a Separation Agreement, you may be able to rely on a built-in review clause to revisit the issue of support. Most Separation Agreements contain a dispute resolution clause which may be the first place to start in this endeavor. In the case of a Final Order, you will likely want to bring a Motion to Change a Final Order if you and your ex-spouse cannot agree on the appropriate adjustment out of court. A qualified lawyer can assist with making this process as seamless as possible.

Parenting

It is not likely that your loss of income will impact settled parenting arrangements. However, you may find yourself needing to reduce your parenting time with the children in order to focus on finding a new job. In this scenario, you may likely need to rely on the dispute resolution clause in your Separation Agreement or bring a Motion to Change a Final Order altering an access schedule in order to achieve the desired relief.

The Ghost of GM Present: Current Family Law Matters

If you are currently going through a legal separation from your spouse, the loss of employment income may affect a number of aspects in your separation, including but not limited to, support, assets and liabilities and alternative career planning.

Child support and spousal support

You may have credible grounds by which to vary a temporary Order for support in your legal proceeding. As an Order for support would have been based on your GM income at the time, the Order may be varied by the new circumstances. You may seek such relief at a pre-trial conference or by bringing a motion. It is not likely, however, that your loss of income resulting from being laid off will extinguish your entire obligation to pay support. Rather, you may still be required to pay support on the basis of employment insurance income or imputed income. However, the extent of any such continuing obligation depends on the particular facts of your case.

Assets and liabilities

The loss of employment income may result in a budgetary deficit, impacting your ability to keep the matrimonial home. If you are no longer able to maintain your share of the mortgage and bills associated with the matrimonial home, it may have to be listed for sale—which may be the most poignant of all of your post-closure concerns. Worry not. There may be options available to you for preventing this outcome such as, a buy-out, borrowing or disposition of investments, RRSPs, RRIFs or your GM pension. However, the viability of these options to save the matrimonial home will need to be assessed against the surrounding issues in your proceeding such as support, equalization and other issues relevant to your case.

Alternative career planning

You may wish to delay your re-entry into the workforce to obtain credentials in a more stable industry. While this will yield economic benefits in the long run, your current financial obligations of support and solvency will be deciding factors. Delayed income generation caused by alternative career training may likely be manageable provided that the financial obligations of your ongoing separation are minimal. However, your freedom and ability to pursue such an undertaking may require a corresponding compromise and will depend on the unique facts of your case.

The Ghost of GM Future: Potential Family Law Matters

If you have been planning to separate from your spouse, the loss of employment income can have significant family law implications on a number of obligations arising in separation, including but not limited to, support, parenting and family property.

Child support and spousal support

It is not likely that being laid off will defer support obligations. You may be obligated to pay support if you receive employment insurance income sufficient enough to meet legislative minimums. If you do not qualify for employment insurance, your spouse may still seek support by imputing an income on you commensurate with your work experience, whereby you will be required to pay support. In either scenario, the obligation to pay child support and spousal support may survive the loss of income depending on the facts of your particular situation.

Parenting

It is likely that being laid off will mean expanded parenting time. While increased parenting time may yield social benefits, it may also impinge on your economic rehabilitation. Your spouse may expect you to dedicate your new found time to caring for young children who are not in school. These, and other significant changes to parenting time after initiating your separation, may likely hinder your re-entry into the workforce. A properly drafted parenting agreement can help by moderating unrealistic expectations.

Family property

You will have a legal duty upon separating from your spouse to avoid the reckless depletion of family property. While you may wish to list personal or real property for sale to help make ends meet, it is not likely that you will be able to freely dispose of family property after your date of separation without your spouse’s prior consent or proper accounting. You will have to be mindful of how you manage family property as mismanagement may prejudice the equalization of net family property and may result in a Court order.

Bottom line

The closure of GM’s Oshawa assembly plant in 2019 will disrupt the lives of many families, the impact of which might be felt most by those dealing with a potential, current or settled family law matters. Contacting a lawyer for legal advice tailored to the particular facts of your case is a proven way to mitigate the effects of an imminent disruption to income. While it may seem impossible to afford a lawyer at this time, there may be options available to finance the cost of much-needed legal representation.

At Russell Alexander Collaborative 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.

Russell Alexander Collaborative Family Lawyers’ First Annual Holiday Toy Drive

Poster for Russell Alexander Collaborative Family Lawyers' Toy Drive

 

Russell Alexander Collaborative Family Lawyers are pleased to announce the start of their First Annual Holiday Toy Drive. This year the drive will be supporting Bethesda House located in the Durham Region and A Place Called Home located in The City of Kawartha Lakes.

New, unwrapped gift donations can be made in the Brooklin office for the Bethesda House. They have informed us of the lack of gifts for children 13-17 years of age. Some gift suggestions for them include:

  • Sports equipment
  • Art supplies
  • Games
  • Movie passes and gift cards
  • Purses and backpacks
  • Make-up, lotion, perfume
  • Hats and scarves

The Lindsay office is accepting new, unwrapped gifts to be donated for A Place Called Home. There is no recommended age for donations for this organization.

If you wish to donate to the toy drive this year, it will be running from November 1, 2018 through to December 7, 2018. You may drop by with your donation in the Brooklin or Lindsay office any time between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on Monday to Friday. For further details, feel free to give our office a call at 905-655-6335.

Religious School’s Barring Child of Same-Sex Couple Not a Breach of Human Rights

Image result for same sex marriage law

Religious School’s Barring Child of Same-Sex Couple Not a Breach of Human Rights

In a perhaps-surprising decision of an adjudicator of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, a Christian evangelical school that refused to admit the adopted son of a married same-sex couple was held not to have breached the anti-discrimination provisions of the Ontario Human Rights Code (the “Code”).

The private school had justified barring the child from its preschool program on the basis that it had a long-established biblical stance against same-sex marriage, and that to allow the child to attend would clash with the school’s teaching and values.

Faced with the school’s rejection of their application, the couple brought a complaint under the Code for discrimination based on sex, creed, marital status and family status.

The adjudicator ruled that the school’s decision fell within a narrow “special interest” exception found in s. 18 of the Code.   That exception essentially permitted the school to discriminate in providing services where “membership or participation in a religious … organization that is primarily engaged in serving the interests of persons identified by a prohibited ground of discrimination is restricted to persons who are similarly identified.”  In other words, the school was not in breach of the Code if it could prove that it was effectively restricting participation in the school’s program to only those who were part of the religious group that it was designed to serve, even if that restriction was otherwise discriminatory.

The adjudicator concluded that the evangelical school fell within the definition of a “special interest” organization, and had not breached the Code-enforced right to equal treatment of services.  As the adjudicator stated:

The school has a well-defined and specific set of creedal beliefs, mission statement and mandate. The respondent [school’s] evidence was clear that the school requires all parents to share these values if they are considering the school for their family.

The adjudicator added that the parents chose to apply to the school precisely because of the opportunity to immerse the child in a Christian religious educational environment. The adjudicator added:

While I empathize with the parents’ feelings of unfairness that their child would not be admitted, the respondent [school] made no secret of its beliefs and was upfront that it may not be the right fit for every family.

Does this ruling come as a surprise?  What are your thoughts?

For the full-text of the decision, see:

H.S. v. The Private Academy

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 RussellAlexander.com

Wednesday’s Video Clip: How to Find More Information about Ontario Family Law

Wednesday’s Video Clip: How to Find More Information about Ontario Family Law

In this law video we review the different ways you can get more information about family law.

There are many professional people, organizations and other sources that can help you or provide information about family law issues, including:

1. An information centre specializing in family justice

2. A parent education course for separating parents

3. Duty counsel at a legal aid office

4. A community legal clinic

5. A university law school with a student-run legal information service

6. A law society or bar association referral service for a lawyer

7. A divorce support or self-help group

8. Relevant library books and videos

9. The yellow pages, white pages or blue pages in your telephone book have listings for
many of these resources, and

10. A librarian at your public library may also be able to help you.

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 RussellAlexander.com

New Surrogacy and Parenting Declaration Laws Upcoming in Ontario

all-families-are-equal-act

New Surrogacy and Parenting Declaration Laws Upcoming in Ontario

Last week I wrote about the province’s new Bill 28, The All Families Are Equal Act (Parentage and Related Registrations Statute Law Amendment), 2016. This new legislation, which is at the Third Reading stage and thus likely to pass into valid law soon, makes several changes to existing statutes that govern the intricacies of parentage.

Specifically, it amends the Children’s Law Reform Act, (by establishing new surrogacy and parenting declaration rules) and the Change of Name Act and the Vital Statistics Act (relating to name changes and birth registrations, respectively).

Here are a few more of those upcoming changes:

Surrogacy

• There are new rules relating to surrogacy situations, including the provisions dealing with the agreement that governs the parties’ relationship, and various provisions relating to the surrogate providing her consent.

• The Bill also gives surrogates a seven-day “cooling off” period before the intended parent of the child take custody.

Parenting Declarations

• Specific provisions deal with the ability to apply for a court-ordered declaration that a person is or is not a parent of a child.

• In this regard, the making of a declaration is subject to the court’s considerations relating to the best interests of the child.

• Such a declaration can also be set aside in the right circumstances; otherwise, it is recognized for all purposes, and is deemed to be effective from the date of the child’s birth.

Other

The new Bill also amends the Vital Statistics Act and the Change of Names Act, to bring it in line with the various changes relating to determining and declaring parentage in assorted circumstances, including assistant reproductive technology. The amendments relate to document name changes and birth registrations.

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 RussellAlexander.com

Wednesday’s Video Clip: Transfer of Property in Ontario – Separation or Divorce


Wednesday’s Video Clip: Transfer of Property in Ontario – Separation or Divorce

In Ontario, whenever there’s a marriage breakdown, and spouses separate or divorce, if they jointly own property, then usually one spouse will release his or her interest in that property, either in return for an equalization payment or other predetermined benefit.

In this video, we explain how transfers of property in Ontario work, focusing on mortgage issues, equalization payments, and land transfer tax; and what documents and information you will be asked to bring to an appointment.

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 RussellAlexander.com.

Can a Parent Ask Court to Force Kid to Change Schools?

mentor

Can a Parent Ask Court to Force Kid to Change Schools?

If a child has been declared eligible to a school for “gifted” kids, does this mean that one parent can force his or her attendance there, by way of court order?

This was the issue in an Ontario case called Askalan v. Taleb, where the divorcing parents’ conflict centered on their disagreement around their son’s education. For much of his educational career, the boy had attended been attending a private school, for which the mother paid all of the tuition under the terms of the separation agreement she and the father reached. That agreement also stipulated that the parents would continue to jointly make important decisions about the child’s education, but that the mother could decide to pull the child out of private school if she could no longer afford it financially. In that case, the parents agreed to choose an alternate school together.

After the boy was assessed as being intellectually gifted, the mother wanted him transferred to a full-time gifted program at a different school. The father objected; among his concerns was the disruption to the child, and the 10 minutes in extra drive-time to get the boy to school from the father’s house.

Since they could not agree (and the divorce trial was still a long way down the road), the mother brought a motion asking for a temporary court order transferring the child to the other school.

The court started by dismissing outright the father’s accusation that the mother’s motive was strictly to save having to pay private school tuition. The separation agreement included a term allowing the mother to pull the boy out if money was an issue; the court also pointed out that the parents had collectively wasted the equivalent of three years’ tuition merely on arguing the motion before it. So the motive could not have been purely financial.

Next, given that the motion was heard in August, the court lamented its timing:

It is extremely unfortunate that the parents have not been able to come to an agreement as to what is in [their son’s] best interests with respect to schooling, as contemplated by the Separation Agreement. Although as I will come to, the cost of this litigation is troubling, even more concerning is the fact that the failure of the parties to resolve this issue has left [the son] in limbo as to where he will go to school this fall, since the spring of this year and this court with the challenge of making a decision that [the son’s] parents are best suited to make.

It is also unfortunate that this issue has been dealt with on the merits for the first time less than three weeks before the start of the new school year. …

In considering the merits of the mother’s motion, the court began by pointing out that the best interests of the child governed the determination of these kinds of matters – not the preferences or wishes of the parents nor any prior agreement between them. (And on that point, the court added that the couple’s separation agreement was not binding on the court, and did not have the same force as would a court Order.

In considering the unique facts against the best interest test, the court was allowed to consider many factors, including: where the boy was born and raised; how many years he had been attending the current school; and any problems he was having there. It could also look to any decisions that were made by the parents prior to the separation or at the time of separation with respect to schooling.

Here, the mother was clearly motivated to enroll the boy in the gifted program so that he could excel academically and meet his full potential. And while the court agreed this would meet his academic needs, this was not the only factor: the court also had to consider the potential disruption, as well as the possible impact on the boy’s personality, confidence and self-esteem. On that point, the court gave considerable weight to the fact that the boy himself wanted to stay at his current school. It also heard that he had sent a text to his father, complaining that there were “too many changes” in his life, and asking that his school and friends not change.

Ultimately, after concluding that the emotional/social disruption might outweigh any academic benefit, the court declined to order that the boy be switched. The mother had not met the onus of showing the boy’s best interests would be served by the transfer; there was insufficient evidence to address how his needs might be accommodated at the current school versus how he might benefit from the gifted program.
The court also ordered an independent assessment of the boy, with the focus being how his best interests might be served by attending the gifted program. The court also cautioned:

My decision however should not be viewed by the Father as a victory. I want to make it clear to [the boy’s] parents that in my view it is extremely unfortunate, that once [the boy] was identified as a gifted learner, and accepted into a gifted program, that the positions of the parties became polarized immediately. Whatever their motivations, there is no evidence of the parents attempting to work together to determine what in fact is in [the boy’s] best interests in light of this new and important information. … Unfortunately, although I have no doubt both parents love [the boy] very much, they clearly forgot that they must put their differences aside and focus only on his best interests. …

There is very little the court can do if the parties insist on dealing with this issue in a high conflict manner. A final decision will be made by the trial judge. I urge them however, to consider [the boy] and what is best for [the boy].

For the full text of the decision, see:

Askalan v. Taleb, 2012 ONSC 4746 (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

Government of Canada Funds Projects Aimed at Helping Families Deal with Divorce or Separation

money

Government of Canada Hopes to Help Families Deal with Divorce or Separation

Earlier this month the Department of Justice Canada announced funding for projects that will help families deal with difficult issues related to divorce or separation with funding aimed at improving access to the family justice system and promoting compliance with family obligations related to divorce or separation.

The project is hoping to develop “tools such as a manual that lawyers, mediators, teachers and Le Petit Pont’s supervised access service providers can use to help families that are experiencing a lot of family conflict. These tools will enable users to provide more effective assistance to families in resolving issues related to separation and divorce and to take appropriate steps to intervene where, for example, family conflict appears to be escalating and could put family members at risk of violence.”

The Press Release included the following Quick Facts

Funding for these projects is being provided through the Supporting Families Fund, which is administered by the Department of Justice Canada under the Supporting Families Experiencing Separation and Divorce Initiative (SFI).

The main goals of the Supporting Families Initiative are to make it easier for families to gain access to the family justice system and to encourage compliance with financial support, custody and access obligations.

To help achieve the objectives of the Supporting Families Initiative, funding is provided to non-government organizations for public legal education and information projects, and for professional training projects

In addition, the Supporting Families Fund contributes $15.5 million annually to provincial and territorial governments for the development and delivery of family justice services such as mediation. These services help families resolve issues related to separation or divorce without the need for expensive, time-consuming and stressful litigation.

 To learn more about this and other Federal Government family Justice initiatives visit their main site.