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Posts tagged ‘Collaborative Divorce’

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 matter. 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.

Wednesday’s Video Clip: Child Support & Access Rights in Ontario

 

Wednesday’s Video Clip: Child Support & Access Rights in Ontario

In this video we discuss child support in relationship to access rights. A parent cannot cut off contact to a child simply because child support is not being paid

Ontario Divorce Law: Is Collaborative Practice Right for You? – video

 

Wednesday’s Video Clip: Is Collaborative Practice Right for You?

Collaborative Practice is a way for you to resolve disputes respectfully — without going to court — while working with trained professionals who are important to all areas of your life.

In this video, we review the concepts of collaborative practice and many of the benefits this process offers couples going through a separation and divorce in Ontario.

 

How To Find More Information About Ontario Family Law – video

 

 

How To Find More Information About Ontario Family Law

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

Is Collaborative Practice Right for You? – video

 
 

Wednesday’s Video Clip: Ontario Divorce Law, Is Collaborative Practice Right for You?Collaborative Practice is a way for you to resolve disputes respectfully — without going to court — while working with trained professionals who are important to all areas of your life.

In this video we examine the concepts of collaborative practice and many of the benefits this process offers couples going through a separation and divorce in Ontario.

Is Collaborative Practice Right for You? – video

 
 

Wednesday’s Video Clip: Ontario Divorce Law, Is Collaborative Practice Right for You?

Collaborative Practice is a way for you to resolve disputes respectfully — without going to court — while working with trained professionals who are important to all areas of your life.

In this video, Abi Adeusi, introduces us to concepts of collaborative practice and many of the benefits this process offers couples going through a separation and divorce in Ontario.

Mediation? Arbitration? Collaborative Divorce? What is the Difference?

ADR2

Mediation? Arbitration? Collaborative Divorce? What is the Difference?

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms are an efficient and increasingly popular way to resolve some Family Law disputes without having to resort to full-blown litigation. Since they all involve settlement of issues outside the realm of the traditional justice system, they tend to be more expedient and cost-effective.

While various ADR mechanisms have unique focuses and processes, many have similar features which can make them difficult to distinguish. Here are the three most common kinds of ADR:

Mediation

The mediation process features the involvement of a trained mediator who helps couples resolve their legal disputes through negotiation. Mediation tends to be an informal process: it is geared resolving issues or at least identifying common ground between the parties, and therefore narrowing down the issues that remain contentious. (And if mediation fails, then the parties are still free to proceed to traditional litigation). In Ontario it can be used in connection with only certain matters which include child support, access and custody, and equalization of net family property.

Arbitration

In contrast to mediation, which is voluntary, arbitration is more similar to a formal court hearing – minus all the formality. Each party is given the opportunity to tell his or her side of the story to an impartial arbitrator, who then makes a ruling that is binding on them both. Although it involves a less rigid procedure than going to court, there are still certain protocols in connection with witnesses’ testimony, and with submitting evidence and documents. Arbitration can cover only certain Family Law disputes, such as spousal or child support, custody and access to children, and division of property. It cannot cover divorce, marriage annulments, and certain administrative changes to official family status and declarations of parentage. Once an arbitration award has been issued, it can be enforced though a simplified procedure that is governed by legislation.

Collaborative Divorce

The underlying philosophy of the collaborative divorce process is that the parties mutually agree to completely avoid the court process, with the result being a faster, cheaper and more amicable divorce. To achieve this, the parties each sign a contract prior to the start of negotiations, agreeing to full disclosure of information and setting out the principles of the collaborative process. Their respective lawyers – who must be trained specifically in collaborative law – also agree not to press the matter to court. (And if ultimately it turns out that settlement cannot be reached, then new lawyers have to be hired). There is a focus throughout the process on co-operation, disclosure, honesty, and the best interests of children.

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 Russell Alexander.com

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