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Posts tagged ‘canada’

O Canada Now Gender-Neutral

O Canada Now Gender-neutral

Canada’s national anthem will is one step close to gener neutrality.

“O Canada” was proclaimed Canada’s national anthem in 1980, one century after it was first sung in 1880. The music was composed by Calixa Lavallée.

The Senate just passed a private members bill  introduced by Liberal MP Mauril Bélanger after 18 months of debate.

“In all thy sons command” will be changed to “In all of us command”. The bill now awaits royal assent from the Governor General before it becomes law.

For Canada, we are now one further step towards a more just and tolerant society.

Perhaps President Trump and the U.S. will take note and follow our example of tolerance and inclusiveness? Who knows.

50 Ways to Leave Your Lover … Thinking of Leaving Your Spouse? Get Some Good Legal Advice First

50 Ways to Leave Your Lover  … Thinking of Leaving Your Spouse? Get Some Good Legal Advice First

 These days, there is quite a lot of basic, free legal information available on the Internet, including information pertaining to uncomplicated or relatively common Family Law issues.  (And I count my Blog among them).

The better information comes from government-sponsored sites, or from reputable websites written by individuals or organizations with a particular interest or passion.    But even on these sites, the quality of the information can be uneven, and the accuracy can be suspect.  And of course there are the truly bad sites:  Inaccurate, out-dated, and often revealing the particular bias, underlying motives, or not-so-hidden agenda of the website author(s).

Furthermore, by definition even the good sites will tend to be very basic; a person with a Family Law concern may manage to find good information, but will be virtually impossible for them to find reliable and comprehensive Family Law advice, meaning input tailored to the specific parties and to their specific circumstances.

This is why it is particularly important – especially for married or common law spouses contemplating or actually deciding to separate – to obtain early, competent and accurate legal advice from a Family Law lawyer, not only about what the process involves and how the system works, but also about their respective legal rights in the unique situation facing them.


  • Family Law can be complicated.   An Internet site or other generalized / rudimentary source of information cannot possibly cover all scenarios, or provide comprehensive advice to parties contemplating separation.  It is vital that the parties learn and understand the particular rights that arise in connection their specific scenario and personal circumstances.
  • There can be many overlooked issues.  When spouses decide to separate, there are many issues that need to be decided.  For example:  Who will stay in the matrimonial home?  Who will take care of the children?  Who will be responsible for paying family debts?  How much child or spousal support will be paid, and by whom?  How will your mutual property be divided?    Moreover, there may be specific arrangements made for the short-term period immediately after separation, as compared to longer-term arrangements after an eventual divorce.  All of this needs to be contemplated and the groundwork must be laid.  A knowledgeable Family Lawyer is the person best-positioned to do this.
  • There may be other options.  A lawyer who is experienced in Family Law can (after meeting with one or both spouses) do a preliminary assessment of the specific issues that arise between them.  After narrowing down the contentious issues, and assessing the likelihood of disagreement and whether there will be acrimony between the parties, the lawyer can then consider the best by which to achieve a resolution.  These avenues may include alternative (and frequently less-costly) dispute resolution mechanisms such as private settlement, collaborative family law, mediation or arbitration.  This way, it may be possible to avoid the court process altogether.
  • Different courts govern different matters.  If the matter must go to court, it can be difficult for separating spouses to even know where to begin, let alone navigate through the legal system. In Ontario, for example, and depending on where the parties live, their matter may be heard in one court that resolves all Family Law issues (including divorce, custody, access, division of property, adoption, and child protection).  In other regions of the province, however, family law matters are dealt with by two separate courts, with one being limited to non-divorce matters and dedicated to hearing only issues relating to support, custody / access, and child protection or adoption. This can be confusing and overwhelming, to say the least.

With all of this in mind, it is crucial for spouses considering separation, or who have already split, to seek competent advice from a Family lawyer.   But in addition to the items listed above, one of the most important services the lawyer can provide, is to give advice on negotiating and formalizing a written separation agreement (which will reduce the parties’ agreement into a binding contractual form).  This is often one of the most fundamental – and frequently overlooked – steps in the long and complicated separation and divorce process.

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


Top Five Things You Should Know About Passports for Children

Top Five Things You Should Know About Passports for Children

With the holidays fast approaching, and with parents starting to give thought to visiting relatives and planning winter getaways, it’s a good time to revisit the basic points about passport requirements for children.   Here are the top five things Canadians should to know:

1. Children  who travel need a Canadian passport

Back in January of 2007, Passport Canada imposed a number of rules pertaining to passports, which included specific provisions applicable to children.  Specifically:

• All Canadians entering the U.S. by air – including children whether accompanied by a parent or not  – must have a valid Canadian passport.   For these purposes, a “child” is anyone aged three to 16, while an “infant” is anyone under age three.

• As with passports for adults, any child or infant who is a Canadian citizen is eligible to apply; once issued, the passport is good for five years for children, and three years for infants.  

• Children need their own passports to travel abroad (i.e. non-U.S. destinations), even if accompanied by a parent.  

• Children who are not travelling with both parents should carry a “Letter of Consent” which states that both parents agree to the child travelling.   (Although this is not a strict legal requirement, it serves to facilitate a child’s entry into another country).

(As an interesting aside, note that effective 2012, Canadians will have the option of applying for a 10-year passport, and also for an electronic / biometric passports, which will feature electronic chip technology, as well as hidden digital photos, holographic images, and a government signature).

2.  Passport photos

Passport photos for child applications must show the child’s head and shoulders, and must be taken by a professional photographer.
In situations involving infants who need to be held, the parents’ hands and arms may not show in the photo.   Passport Canada is not strict as to an infant’s facial expression on a passport photo, i.e. the infant’s mouth may be open or closed.

3.  The need for children’s passports is dispensed with in some cases

Strictly speaking, children under the age of 15 years are permitted to cross the U.S. border (whether by land or water) without a passport, but must show proof of citizenship (i.e. an original or copy of a Birth Certificate, or an original Canadian citizenship card).  However, children who travel by air must show a passport.
Also, Canadian citizens 18 years of age and under who are travelling with a school or other organized group, under adult supervision and with parental/guardian consent may also present proof of citizenship alone.

4.  Children of separated parents

As a means of preventing child abduction in situations of family discord, the Canada Border Services Agency and the United States Customs and Border Protection Office have certain additional requirements in connection with travel by children of separated parents, when in the company of only one of those parents.
Specifically, the parent with whom the child travels must provide a Notarized Letter of Permission, which is evidence of his or her entitlement to travel with the child.   This letter must include complete contact information for all parents or legal guardians.

5. Renewal

A child’s passport may be renewed up to 12 months before it expires.   Although there is a simplified renewal process for passports issued to adults, it does not apply to passports for children.   Instead, the renewal of a child’s passport requires proof of Canadian citizenship (consisting of either a “Birth Certificate”, or “Certificate of Birth” which has been issued by a provincial/territorial authority in Canada).  If available, a long-form Birth Certificate (which lists both parents) should be presented.

If there is an existing Canadian passport for the child, it must also be provided, together with a certificate of identity or refugee travel document (if applicable).  
If the child’s current passport expires more than 12 months from the date that the application is being made, a written explanation for the early renewal application must be provided.
Note that both the application process and the renewal process take time, and prudent parents must plan accordingly, so that the child’s passport is in hand long before the anticipated trip departure date.

For further information, visit the Passport Canada website at:

10 Things Your Should Know About Divorce

A separation occurs when one or both spouses decide to live apart with the intention of not living together again. Once you are separated, you may need to discuss custody, access and child support with your spouse. You may also need to work out issues dealing with spousal support and property. You can resolve these issues in different ways. This blog discusses 10 things should should consider about divorce.

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