Family Law Blog

JOHN SCHUMAN'S FAMILY LAW BLOG

Here is where you will find on-going up-to-date useful information on family law topics, such as separation, divorce, custody and access, child support, spousal support, property division, marriage contracts, family mediation and arbitration.  This blog is designed to answer your family law questions, so look around.

This blog will answer a lot of common family law, divorce, separation, and parenting issues.  If you are having trouble finding the information that you need, just use the search box on the left.  It will help you find the answers you need to your family law or divorce matter.

All of the answers are provided by a practicing Ontario Family Law/Divorce Lawyer.  However, note that small changes in circumstances can lead to a big change in how the law applies to the situation.  It is always important to discuss your particular circumstances with an experienced family law lawyer.  You can contact John Schuman at 416-446-5080 or by emailing him.  For more information about how to contact John, click here, and click here for more information about John.


Book - Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law

In addition to this blog, you can get a lot more information about Family Law in John Schuman’s book, The Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law, which is available from Amazon as a paperback or a $9.99 Kindle eBook, Kobo eBook, or iBook for your iPad or iPhone.


Don’t wait to get the Family Law information you need.  Not knowing how the law work has gotten many people into serious Family Law trouble.  Before your Divorce or child protection case goes wrong, find out how the law applies to you!

How To Resolve Your Disagreements Over Parenting, Separation and Divorce While the Courts Are Closed Due to the Corona Virus

Empty Courtroom as Courthouses are closed


Corona Virus has had a devastating impact around the world.  Governments have taken action in response.  One of those actions is to close the Ontario Courts and only allow access to litigants in the most desperate of situations.  Separation and divorce can also present difficult circumstances for parents and spouses.   With the closing of the Courts, those separated parents and spouse have lost a way to resolve disagreements at a time when stress and anxiety can provoke more disagreement.  There has been an increase in divorce applications in China since the start of the pandemic.  The prospect of having to wait a long time to resolve Family Law issues creates a lot of anxiety for separated parents and spouses, who find the time of transition difficult and want to get it over.  The good news is that there are ways to find solutions for parents and children, even at this difficulty time.

 

Corona Virus

COVID-19 has closed the Ontario Family Courts – the place where divorcing spouses traditionally went to work out the issues arising from their separation.   For the most part, courts continue to hear matters in open courtrooms where the virus can spread.  The system lacks the ability to hear matters electronically - over the phone or by video over the internet. So, coming to court has become a dangerous way to resolve things like parenting disputes, child support, spousal support, or property division because of the risk of transmission of the virus.


As troubling as that may seem, there has been a big push in Family Law to move away from dealing with everything, even most things in court.  In fact, the upcoming changes to the Divorce Act in July will put a large emphasis on resolving things out of court.  So, the Corona Virus may just be pushing us into the future a little faster than people had planned or anticipated.

 

There are several ways to resolve Family Law issues – all the things arising from separation – without going to court.  In fact the vast majority of separating couple and parents resolve their matters without ever stepping foot inside a courthouse.  Believe it or not, most family law cases are resolved with the parties signing a separation agreement without going to court.   There are some requirements to have a legal and enforceable separation agreement, but none of those requirements involving going to court.   In fact, lawyers for you and your ex and exchange the required information and negotiate the terms without stepping a foot out of their offices – maintaining the social distancing required by the pandemic response.

 



So, even during the pandemic, you and your ex can move your matters forward toward a resolution.

Ontario Family Law Podcast

 

15 - Family Court Step by Step - Part 2 - From First Appearance to the last appearance before trial

24 - How to Have a Valid and Enforceable Separation Agreement

31 - How Lawyers Help at Family Mediation

35 - Resolving Children's Issues Outside of Court

41 - How to Prepare for Family Mediation

Obviously, some disagreements are harder to resolve.   That was why people USED to go to court, but for a while they have rarely had to do so.  Alternative Dispute Resolution – set procedures that are alternatives to court for resolving disputes – have been growing, particularly in Family Law.  At my firm, we are trained in and use all the ADR options.  And, in the face of the pandemic, we can use them to get matters finished for clients without waiting for the courts to open.

 

Many separating couple and parents have found mediation to be an effective way to resolve arguments.   In mediation, the trained mediator helps the parties find ways to resolve their disagreements.  This is very similar to what judges do at case conferences and settlement conferences, although since mediators charge for their time, they often spend a lot more of it getting parties through to a settlement.


Although traditionally mediations have been conducted in a boardroom, they can be conducted over a phone or through video-conferencing.  Electronic mediation has become increasing prevalent in places like Northern Ontario where the parties are far a part.   Although, it can work fine in many other situations, even in cases of “self-isolation” because the Corona Virus cannot be transmitted over the internet.   John Schuman has gotten parties to reach settlement at electronic mediation – there are even situations where it is easier than in-person mediation.  At a recent conference, John spoke about how to use electronic mediation effectively.

 

For more about the process at mediation, check out this video:



 

Collaborative Practice is usually involves a series of meetings.  Although, truthfully, the team also do a lot of work between meetings over the phone.  Again, there is no reason why Collaborative Practice could not help separated spouses from coming up with their own solutions over video conferencing to avoid the transmission of viruses.

  

 

But, what if separated spouses or parents just cannot agree?   What if they need a judge to make the decision for them?   It is possible that they still do not need a judge or the formal, lengthy and more complicated court process.  What they need is an impartial trained decision maker to listen to both sides, consider the arguments and make the decision.   That can also happen in Family Arbitration.  In fact, many separating spouse like Family Arbitration better than court because they can pick an arbitrator they respect and trust instead of having a judge assigned to their family by chance.


Since there are no set legally required procedures in Family Arbitration – the process just has to be fair to both sides – there is no reason why the process cannot be conducted over the phone, or by video conference, or even in writing by email.  In fact, many arbitrations are done just that way.  All of those options allow both sides to present their arguments and allow the arbitrator to make a decision.


Additionally, section 58.9 of the Family Law Act says that an arbitrators decision can be enforced by the Superior Court just like a Court Order.   So, if you need to go to Court before they reopen, you may want to convince your ex to go to Family Arbitration now instead of waiting.

 

Parents who are having difficulty with their current parenting plan or parenting order may want to consider hiring a parenting coordinator to help them resolve the issues.  Follow the above link or click on the podcast episode to the left for a podcast with more information about parenting coordination.


And check out this video with more information on all the alternatives for going to court:

 


If you would like to resolve your family law matter NOW, instead of waiting for the Ontario Courts to reopen, either John Schuman or one of his colleagues cannot not only help you as a lawyer, or collaborative lawyer, but as a mediator or arbitrator as well.   Call Kerri-Anne Mitchell at 416-446-5847  or email her to discuss your ADR options and to set it up.  It is best not to speak to a mediator or arbitrator alone to prevent the appearance of bias.

Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law - 4th edition cover
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New Kobo Logo

Paperback available from:

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The best way to protect yourself, your children, and your financial security, is to find out how the law applies specifically to your situation and what steps you should take to get things to work out for you. Certified Specialist in Family Law (and author of the book to the left), John Schuman, has extensive experience assisting high net worth clients on complicated legal matters, including stock options.  Contact him right now by using the contact form below, by emailing him, calling 416-446-5847, or using the contact form below.  We answer all inquiries promptly and we can arrange for you to come in quickly for a consultation (charged at a reduced hourly rate).


You can get a lot more information about Ontario Family Law issues, including a comprehensive explanation of child support, spousal support, property division, and most other common family law issues by downloading this $9.99 Kindle eBook, Kobo eBook, or iBook for your iPad or iPhone or ordering it from Amazon as a paperback.  


Many thousands of people get family law assistance from this website everyday.  If you have found this page useful, please share it on your social network using the Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest buttons at the bottom of the page.  Please comment on this page using the comments section at the bottom to share your thoughts.


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Do I still have to let my kids travel with my ex for March Break amid COVID-19?

epidemic-4888838_1920


By Katelyn Bell, Family Lawyer

We are all very familiar with the pandemic currently spread across the world. Yesterday, the Ontario Government announced the closure of all publicly funded schools for two weeks following March Break, which is set to commence this Monday, March 16th.

 

March Break tends to be one of the busiest travel seasons… but not so much this year.

 

While most of us with travel plans have made the decision to cancel or reschedule, others are taking advantage of the cheap cost of travel and have decided to take the risk and travel anyway. 

 

So what happens if your ex-partner is insisting upon taking your children away for March Break during his or her parenting-time with the kids? Do they have to go? Do you have to sign the travel consent form as required by many international laws and custom officials?

 

The short answer: no.

 

But you should be aware that if you do refuse to sign a travel consent for your children to go on vacation with your ex, he or she may bring forward a Family Court motion, seeking to dispense with your consent to travel. 

Ontario Family Law Podcast

 

7 - Custody of the Children - what it means and how it is decided

15 - Family Court Step by Step - Part 2 - From First Appearance to the last appearance before trial

35 - Resolving Children's Issues Outside of Court

When a parent is unreasonably withholding consent for a child to travel, the travelling party tends to be successful on this type of a motion, so long as the proposed travel is in the child’s best interests.  When parents ask judges to make, or resolve arguments over, parenting decisions, the judge is required to make the Order that is the child’s best interests.

 

But, amid COVID-19, it will be very difficult for a Family Court Judge to find such travel is in a child’s best interests. This is particularly true for as long as the Government of Canada advises everyone to avoid all travel outside Canada.

 

Not only does a child risk being quarantined in the foreign jurisdiction amid increasing coronavirus concerns and border shutdowns, but of course, there is the risk of your child actually contracting the virus.

 

And even if your child isn’t quarantined while away or ill, it is highly probable that child will be quarantined upon their return to Canada. This would mean you – the non-travelling parent and presumed healthy one – wouldn’t be able to see your child for the entire quarantine period.  On top of that, there is a chance that the “self-isolation period” for your child could extend past the school shutdown ordered by the Ontario Government.   For children who need additional assistance in school (exceptional pupils),  a prolonged absence from school could have negative impact on their education  That is something that a judge will take into consideration if asked to decide whether to allow a trip.  It is always important to make sure you have evidence to present to the judge about what is your child’s best interests whenever you go to Family Court.

 


All those considerations suggest that travel outside Canada is currently not in a child’s best interests (even though it in normal circumstances, most judge support children traveling). So say no to travel… for now.


Of course, where there is an existing court order, both parents have to follow it, unless they agree otherwise, or a judge changes the order.  So, if a parent insists on travelling during the Corona Virus Outbreak, or doing anything else that is against the children’s best interests, it maybe necessary to go get an emergency parenting order


These special considerations do not just apply to travel.  Co-parenting during the pandemic can be challenging.  Public Health Ontario is providing reliable advice about what is in everyone’s best interests.  Parents should be following that advice to do what is in their children’s best interests.  In the event of a dispute, it is quite certain that a Family Court Judge will. 

 

Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law - 4th edition cover
Find the book on the IBookstore

You can get a lot more information about Ontario Family Law issues, including a comprehensive explanation of the Family Law related to parenting after separation, child support, and most other common family law issues by downloading this $9.99 Kindle eBook, Kobo eBook, or iBook for your iPad or iPhone or ordering it from Amazon as a paperback.

  

Get the paperback on Amazon

However, if protecting the well-being of your children should always be your top priority.  To get the best advice, specific to your situation, you should speak to family lawyer.  You can email the author of this post, Katelyn Bell.  Certified Specialist in Family Law, John Schuman, is known for his concern for children in separation and divorce and has won many child custody cases.  To contact John or Katelyn, call 416-446-5847, email him, or fill out the form below. You can use the same form to comment on this page.

 

Many thousands of people get family law assistance from this website everyday.  If you have found this page useful, please share it on your social network using the Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest buttons at the bottom of the page.  Please comment on this page using the comments section at the bottom to share your thoughts on the best ways to resolve matters for your children after a separation. 

 

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Who Pays the Costs of Going to Family Court?

lawyers fighting in family court

One of the things people worry most about when separating is the cost of getting divorced. The cost of going to Family Court can be very high.  Separating spouses want to know which spouse will pay the legal and other fees. 

When people mention "court costs", they are speaking about two types of things:

  1. The costs for filing documents with the Court or other fees that someone has to pay directly to the court to have the court proceed with a specific step.
  2. The fees charged by lawyers, accountants, process servers, and other professionals in relation to the litigation.

Not surprisingly, the fees charged by professionals are usually much more than the fees charged the courts.  Ontarians almost completely pay for the Family Courts system through their taxes.  The changes to the Divorce Act effective July 1, 2020 recognize that avoiding court, and the associated fees, can also significantly reduce the professionals fees. So, parties should consider using mediation, arbitration, Collaborative Practice or the Ontario Government's Child Support Online Recalculation Service, where appropriate.  


When parties stay in court, it is important for them to understand who will pay the associated costs and why.


COURT FEES

Most court fees are associated with either getting a divorce or asking the court to assist with property division.  Either the Superior Court of Justice or the Superior Court of Justice - Family Court deals with those matters depending on in which municipality the court proceedings take place.  There are fees for:

  • filing an application asking for a divorce or asking for an order respecting property, 
  • filing an Answer to those demands (listen to this podcast for an explanation of the steps in a Family Court case), 
  • scheduling a trial or getting a Divorce Order), 
  • getting a summons for a witness, 
  • getting a Divorce Certificate (which is necessary to remarry), and 
  • making photocopies of court documents. 
Ontario Family Law Podcast

10 - Child Support - Who Pays and How Much?

All the Family Court fees are listed on this page.  They range from $31.00 to several hundred dollars. (People also have to pay for transcripts of court proceedings, but those fees, which can be many thousands of dollars, are owed to the court reporters, not the court).

There are no court fees for court proceedings in the Ontario Court of Justice or for cases in relation to only child support, spousal support or parenting.

13 - Spousal Support in Ontario and Canada

14 - Family Court Step by Step - Part 1 - Starting and Responding to Family Court Proceedings

40 - How to Keep Your Money in Separation and Divorce

With respect to the payment of the actual Court Fees, the party who takes the steps pays the fees. This means, for example, that a spouse who files his or her answer to his or her spouse’s claims pays the cost of filing that document with the court.

While Court Fees can amount to several thousand dollars, they are not usually the fees that people talk about when they talk about the cost of Family Court.  Most of the costs of going to Family Court are associated with professional fees, especially the costs of lawyers and, where necessary, accountants.


PROFESSIONAL FEES

Initially, parties pay their own professional fees associated with Family Court litigation.  Where a party qualifies for Legal Aid, he or she may not have to cover the costs of legal fees associated with parenting or support matters.   Legal Aid Ontario does not assist with legal fees related to obtaining a Divorce Order or property matters (essentially the same matters for which the Superior Court charges fees).  Legal Aid Ontario is also not supposed to pay the fees associated with a person taking an unreasonable position.   Also, to get Legal Aid, a person must have very little income - such little income that the person is living in poverty.


Since legal fees can be a significant portion of the costs of getting divorced or dealing with another matter in Family Court, it is helpful to do things to keep those fees low.   Watch the video above tips on how to keep Family Lawyer's Fees down.  

Note that hiring a lawyer with a lower hourly rate will not necessarily save you money - you need a lawyer who is competent to handle the issues in your case and more complex or difficult cases require more senior lawyers with higher hourly rates to get the result you want.  Many people find that when they pay less for a lawyer, they end up paying far more than they saved due to a bad settlement or court order.  It can be useful to at least consult with a senior family lawyer to know where you should end up and how to get there.   

It can be also helpful to consider hiring a good lawyer either for unbundled services or as a Family Law Coach, which can give a party more control over fees by taking more responsibility for handling the litigation.

Check out this page with more information on Family Lawyer's Fees.

However, the question of "who pays for Family Court" does not end there.   Ontario has a "loser pays" Court System.  That means that the unsuccessful party in Court pays some or all of the lawyer, accountant and other professional fees of the winning party.  So, while each party may have to pay those fees as they go along, at the end of a trial, motion, or appeal, the judge may order that the "losing party" reimburse the winning party for some of those fees.

On a quick side note, it is possible to have one separated spouse pay the other separated spouses legal fees in advance.  Judges do that when one spouse has all the money and is holding on to it and the other spouse needs access to some funds to protect his or her rights in court.

In Family Court, judges do not just assess who "won", as that can sometimes be difficult to determine.  They also look at which party behaved more reasonably, whether a party has acted in bad faith, and, most importantly, formal offers to settle. 

Rule 18(14) of the Family Law Rules states that when a party gets a result that was as good or better for them as a previous formal offer that party has properly made, the other party should pay all or substantially all of the legal fees.  Put more simply, a party who "beats" an offer to settle in Court can expect the other party to pay the legal fees for both sides, including reimbursing any fees already incurred.

The idea behind this is simple:  if one spouse had accepted the other spouse’s good offer, he or she would not only have come out better, but saved both spouses the time, aggravation and costs of continuing in Family Court.

It is very important for anyone involved in Family Court to make an offer that he or she can beat as early on as possible. That way, the answer to the question "who pay the costs of Family Court" will be “the other side”.   A former spouse may end up paying all of the professional fees associated with the Family Court process  - even when those legal fees are hundreds of thousands of dollars.  

It remains important to act reasonably.  A party who acts in bad faith always pays the other side's legal and other fees, regardless of the outcome.  It is very important to get good legal advice to take reasonable positions before the Court and make good offers to settle, to get reimbursement for legal fees. Having to pay the legal fees of both sides can bankrupt, or at least cause serious financial harm, to the person who has to pay them.


There is on caveat.  Legal fees related to support can be enforced by the Family Responsibility Office and survive bankruptcy.   Other fees can be very difficult, or impossible, to collect if the other side has no money, even if the other side lost.  For those cases, in considering steps in Family Court, it is especially important to consider their cost when the other side will never be able to reimburse those costs.  It may be best to try to settle as the professional fees will be more than any benefit of fighting it out in Court.


Who Pays When The Spouses Stay Out of Court

As noted above, separated spouses and parents can save a LOT of money by staying out of court.  So, who pays then?

Most couples negotiate a separation agreement with the help of lawyers and then have the lawyers write up the agreement.  When that happens, each side usually pays his or her own legal fees unless they negotiate something different.  In these cases where parties reach a fair agreement, each spouse usually ends up with enough money to pay the legal fees without getting into financial trouble.


When the parties go to mediation, most often each side pays for his or her own lawyer and half the cost of the mediator.   This gives both sides some commitment to resolve their matters at mediation - at a much lower cost than in court.  Although, where the parties both view mediation as worthwhile, but one spouse doesn’t have the funds available,  they can share the cost of the mediator differently.


Most arbitrators expect each side to pay an equal amount towards the arbitrators fees, unless they have agreed to special arrangements.  Most arbitrators adopt the costs rules that are in the Family Law Rules, or ones that are very similar.  So, at arbitration, offers to settle are very important and the “loser pays.”   In arbitration, it is common for the arbitrator to order that the unsuccessful party pay the arbitration fees, including reimbursing the other party for fees already paid. 

It remains important to act reasonably, listen to a lawyer, and make good offers to keep the cost of any separation, divorce or other Family Law matter low.

Parties cannot be divorced except by a Court Order.  A divorce is only necessary to allow the spouse to remarry. So, even after settling everything outside court, someone has to pay the court fees to get the divorce.  Spouses often include who will pay for the divorce in their settlement. 

Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law - 4th edition cover
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Paperback available from:

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The best way to protect yourself, your children, and your financial security, is to find out how the law applies specifically to your situation and what steps you should take to get things to work out for you. Certified Specialist in Family Law (and author of the book to the left), John Schuman, has extensive experience assisting high net worth clients on complicated legal matters, including stock options.  Contact him right now by using the contact form below, by emailing him, calling 416-446-5847, or using the contact form below.  We answer all inquiries promptly and we can arrange for you to come in quickly for a consultation (charged at a reduced hourly rate).

You can get a lot more information about Ontario Family Law issues, including a comprehensive explanation of child support, spousal support, property division, and most other common family law issues by downloading this $9.99 Kindle eBook, Kobo eBook, or iBook for your iPad or iPhone or ordering it from Amazon as a paperback.  

Many thousands of people get family law assistance from this website everyday.  If you have found this page useful, please share it on your social network using the Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest buttons at the bottom of the page.  Please comment on this page using the comments section at the bottom to share your thoughts.


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Was It Illegal For My High School Chaplain To Take Me To Therapy Without Telling My Parents?


teenager in therapy


This question touches on a lot of rights of adolescents under Ontario's Health and Education Laws.  It might also seem to related to Family Law.  Mostly, it is a questions of children’s rights. 


Health Care and Consent Laws

To start, in almost every situation, teenagers have the right to go to therapy without parental consent.  The work of both psychologists and psychotherapists is covered by Ontario's Health Care Consent Act, 1996 (because those are both self governing health professions).  

Under section 4 of the Health Care Consent Act, every person is presumed to be able to understand the information relevant to treatment and the consequences for making a treatment decision.   There are no age limits on what "person" means, so everyone is entitled to make their own health care decisions (including therapy decisions.)  The only exception to this is where the health care professional has reasonable ground to believe that the person does not have that understanding.   A young child, or a person with a serious mental illness or a developmental delay may not be able to have that understanding.  But, unless the health care professional believes there is a problem, any person, including a child, can consent to treatment, including psychotherapy.   Most teenagers can have the necessary understanding of what therapy involves, and what any risks of therapy might be, to be able to consent to it on their own.

It is also important to note that section 15 of the Health Care Consent Act, 1996 recognizes that a person (including a child) can have the required understanding to consent to one type of treatment even if he or she cannot understand others.

The impact of the Act is that a child can direct the treatment he or she understands, even when there are treatments the child does not understand.   Check out this page for more about children directing their own health care.   

Note that leading institutions, such as the Hospital for Sick Children ("SickKids") are very careful to respect the rights of children to direct, or participate in directing, their treatment.  Additionally, some practice areas, such as Adolescent Medicine Specialists, usually assist older children without the involvement of their parents.  So, a child getting therapy without a parents permission is not "against the law."

The Code of Ethics for Canadian Psychologists is consistent with Ontario Law.  It does caution psychologists to be careful around vulnerable groups and people who may not have capacity (such as children), especially when there are multiple people involved in the therapy or aspects of it.  But, that is not the case here.  

The Professional Standards of Practice for Registered Psychotherapists in Ontario specifically reference the Health Care Consent Act, 1996 and adopt its principals. So, the therapist did not do anything wrong either.


Family Law

Ontario Family Law Podcast

7 - Custody of the Children - what it means and how it is decided

18 - How to Hear the Voice of the Child in Custody/Access Cases

22 - Children's Right's in Ontario Schools

Family Law does not apply to the school chaplain because he or she is not acting as a parent, at least not on a continuous basis.  Family Law does not give parents the right to interfere with their children’s  therapy either.  Ontario's Children's Law Reform Act addresses custody rights when parents are separated. Section 18(2) of that law says the custody provisions apply to children up to the age of 18. The term custody, which will soon no longer exist under Canadian Law, includes the right to make medical decisions.  However, that law does not supersede the rights of the child under the Health Care Consent Act, 1996. Family Law applicable to separated parents has no applications when parents are not separated.  

Children’s Aid Societies sometimes get involved if a child is not getting necessary treatment, but rarely start intervention into a family over what therapy a child should be receiving.   Section 74(2) of the Child Youth and Family Services Act allow Children's Aid Societies to intervene when a child is not receiving treatment to prevent the child from suffering harm.  That section explicitly states that the Society is not able to intervene when a child has capacity to make treatment decisions under the Health Care Consent Act.  Although, there have been court cases where the Children's Aid Society has challenged whether the child has capacity.

Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law - 4th edition cover

You can get a lot more information about Ontario Family Law issues, including a comprehensive explanation of child custody, parenting laws, the law related to children’s aid societies moving and most other common family law issues by downloading this $9.99 Kindle eBook, Kobo eBook, or iBook for your iPad or iPhone or ordering it from Amazon as a paperback


Education Law 

The Chaplain is not a member of any recognized self-governing profession and is either an employee of volunteer with the school board or school.  Things are little greyer there.  Since you agreed to go with the Chaplain, the school was not kidnapping you or otherwise committing a criminal offence, but it is not clear that taking you out of school is permitted by the Education Act

If the Chaplain was a teacher, or a teacher (including a principal or vice-principal) was involved in these activities, then there may be an issue of a breach of the Ontario College of Teacher’s Ethical Standards.  The duties of teachers of fairness, openness and honesty involve maintaining the trust of parents.  A teacher who did not consider those duties may be the subject of professional discipline.  

Under section 21 of the Education Act, every person between the age of 6 and 18 is required to go to school on every school day.  Under section 21(5) of the Education Act, it is the duty of parents to make sure their children do attend school.  The Education Act does provide some excuses for not attending school, one of which is because the student is "unable to attend school by reason of sickness or other unavoidable cause."   Your circumstances may or may not have met that criteria.  But, the duty of parents to make sure their children attend school probably gives them some right to have a say in whether one child  can "skip school” for any reason, including for therapy.  That neither you nor the school told them about the therapy at all might be a problem. 

Depending on which School Board is involved, there may be School Board Polices or insurance requirements that prevent a school employee or volunteer from transporting a student for a non-school related matter.  That could get any school employee or volunteer into trouble with the Board for transporting a student without proper authorization.  There might have been bigger trouble if there had been a car accident and the insurance company was able to deny coverage.   However, those would have been internal School Board issues and not necessarily legal ones involving students - unless the Board decided to fire the Chaplain. 

Under Health Law, Family Law and Education Law, your Chaplain did not do anything that was clearly illegal.  And, it may have been the right thing to do for you.  Still, it might have been better for the school to follow the legal process for helping exceptional pupils to get you the help you needed. Hiding things from parents can lead to bigger problems down the road, but that might have been something that the therapist helped with.

Children’s Rights Lawyer, John Schuman, and his colleagues have extensive experience in assisting children and parents with Education Law and Family Law issues.  We can provide legal representation or we can just provide information and advice about the process or along the way at each step.   Call us at 416-446-5847, email us, or use the contact form below to set up a consultation to set up a plan to meet your child’s needs and your budget.

Thousands of people find this website helpful everyday. If you found this page helpful, please share it on your social networks using the buttons at the bottom of the page.  That makes it easier for others to find this information.  You can also leave your comments below.

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Do Ontario Schools Have to Teach Teenage Parents?

teenage parents


Ontario’s publicly funded education system has been set up to provide additional assistance for children who face challenges or barriers to their ability to receive an education.   That assistance is mandated by the Education Act, several regulations, several Ministry Policies, and Policy/Procedure Memorandum, which are binding on school boards.


Ontario Private Schools are almost completely unregulated, so there is little explicit help for students in special circumstances.


However, neither pregnancy nor parenthood are, in themselves, identified grounds for a student to access Ontario’s special education resources.  The Ministry of Education has a program called the “Single Parent Initiative”, but it only encourages Boards to be mindful of parent/students and leaves the actual implementation to the individual school boards.  Unlike other areas of disadvantage, there are no specific systems in place to assist teenage parents in school. 


The following are the (antiquated) available identifications that formally entitle children to additional special education resources through the Identification Placement and Review Committee (IPRC) process:

Categories of Exceptionalities for Ontario Students:

  • Behaviour: Behaviour disability, mental health affecting behaviour (good or bad), socialization issues, anxiety disorders, PTSD, depression, suicidal ideation, etc.
  • Communication: Autism, Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Speech Impairment, Language Impairment, Learning Disabilities
  • Intellectual: Gifted, Mild Intellectual Disability, Developmental Disability
  • Physical: Physical Disability, Blind and Low Vision
  • Multiple: Multiple Exceptionalities (2 or more prominent)

None of these apply directly to teen parenthood.  However, becoming a parent while a teenager is not normative behaviour and it usually occurs in a context of other challenges.  The education system may already be attempting to address those issues that contributed to the circumstances or the pregnancy may lead to more active intervention.  However, the special education system does not specifically recognize, or fund, assistance for teenage parents. Obviously, single parenthood can affect mental health, which would entitle a student to some form of special educations assistance, although that would be for the mental health issue, not for the parenthood issue.

Bullying is another challenge faced by teenager parents.  Ontario’s Education Act and initiatives by the Ministry of Education are designed to combat bullying.   Section 1(1) of the Education Act sets out that bullying is behaviour that occurs in a context where there is a real or perceived powers imbalance between the victim and the bully and identifies “family circumstances” as a factor that can create that imbalance.   Section 170(7.2) requires the Board to provide programs interventions or other supports for students who have been bullied.   Again, there are requirements that the Board accommodate many of the concerns that arise from teenage parenthood, but there are no specific requirements for the Board to accommodate the teenage pregnancy or parenthood.


In the absence of the specific requirement for accommodations in the education system, a parent/student may have to access the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario if a school refuses to provide some assistance.   The relevant claim of discrimination in this context is discrimination on the basis of “Family Status”.   Discrimination on the basis of Family Status occurs when a parent/child relationship cause a person to be negatively impacted. 

 

Not every treatment of a single parent will be discriminatory and give rise to relief before the Human Rights Tribunal.   The test for whether a parent has been discriminated against is set out in the HRTO decision in Misetich v Value Village Stores Inc. 2016 HRTO 1229 at para 54-57:

  1. To establish that the student (the Misetich case actually related to an employee) has suffered discriminatory treatment, the student must establish not just a negative impact on a family need, but an impact that results in a real disadvantage to the parent/child relationship and the responsibilities that flow from that relationship.  Assessing the impact of the impugned rule is done contextually and considers the other supports available to the applicant such as before/after school daycare, family support etc.
  2. Once the applicant proves discrimination, the onus shifts to the respondent to establish that the applicant cannot be accommodated to the point of undue hardship. At this point, whether the applicant cooperated in the accommodation process is considered. The applicant is obligated to provide the respondent with sufficient information regarding their family-related needs and work with the respondent to identify possible solutions to resolve the conflict. In school related HRTO matters, this last requirement is where many students and parent falter when they are not cooperative with the school board.

There are no HRTO cases related allegations against a school board for discrimination based on Family Status.  There is a case involving a college student: Ananda v. Humber College, 2017 HRTO 611.  However, in that case, the student failed to establish that, even though he was his mother’s primary caregiver, her needs were of a sufficient extent to require the accommodation he was seeking (permission to take more than 6 years to finish his nursing program).


However, the Ontario Human Rights Commission has specifically considered the special concerns of parents enrolled in educational programs.  The commission has given directions about the importance of accommodating parents in their educational programs in its policy on breastfeeding.   Challenges faced by teenage parents are the legitimate subject of a human rights case where students suffer actual disadvantage related to being a parent and attempts to work out the problems with the school to create appropriate accommodations have failed. 

 

The HRTO has broad jurisdiction to grant relief that exceeds just monetary awards.  It can make mandatory orders that require School Boards to do, or not to do, specific things.  So, it can require a School Board to provide specific accommodations to a child.   However, the monetary awards, while not capped, tend to be lower than in court.   In addition, the HRTO’s Rules of Procedure do not give it the power to award costs.  So, parents who use lawyers to navigate the HRTO’s process or to assist them at the hearing, which is like a trial, may have difficulty coming out ahead financially and may have difficulty getting help navigating the process.   Still the Human Rights Tribunal process is simpler and less costly than Court.


HRTO has a Child and Youth Division (CYD) for cases involving children.   Cases related to alleged discrimination experienced by children are diverted to adjudicators and mediators who have special expertise in children’s issues. Since most cases of discrimination against children somehow involve schools, because school is the institution with which children most frequently interact, CYD sees a lot of cases involving children with special needs and their schools.  For these cases HRTO often draws on adjudicators from the CFSRB and OSET, so they understand the school system well. 


In addition, the CYD adjudicators are prone to decide that any case involving discrimination affecting a child needs to be resolved quickly for the same reasons that court cases centred around children should be resolved quickly:  time passes slower for children and having a negative experience drag on can negatively impact a child’s development.   The HRTO does have an expedited process.


When going to the HRTO in relation to a child with special needs, it is important to immediately apply for the expedited process both to make sure the process goes quickly and to ensure that the case is assigned to the CYD.


While there is ability to bring interim motions for both procedural issues and “Interim Remedies” (temporary order that last until the full hearing takes place), the usual first step is a mediation.  Those mediations can happen really quickly, possibly within a month of bringing the application, for CYD cases. As the CYD mediators are familiar with the school system, they can be quite helpful in resolving issues and “building bridges” between the family and the educators to try to prevent hard feelings from preventing the implementation of any solutions and to assist a positive learning environment.  In addition, if the claim has any merit, school boards can be very motivated at mediation because they do not want to be the subject of a HRTO decision stating that they maltreated a child with special needs.


Keep in mind that being a child with special needs  does not guarantee success at the HRTO.  The following is the test at the HRTO:

  1. Has the applicant established that he was denied meaningful access to his education because of a prohibited ground of discrimination?
  2. If so, has the School Board established that the reason the student was denied meaningful access to education was because he or she was unable to fulfill the requirements necessary to do so because of his or her disability or that the requirement that prevented his meaningful access to education was reasonable and bona fide?
  3. If so, has the School Board established that it was unable to accommodate the applicant?

 

See: Kahn v. Upper Grand District School Board, 2019 HRTO 1137 (CanLII) (http://canlii.ca/t/j1w8w )

Ontario Family Law Podcast


7 - Custody of the Children - what it means and how it is decided

10 - Child Support - Who Pays and How Much?

In addition to challenges with the education system, and perhaps education law matters, teenage parents often face many family law issues, such as child support and parenting rights and responsibilities (formerly child custody) cases.  There are lots of more information on this site about Family Law issues, including the Ontario Family Law Podcast, several videos and many answers and tips for Family Law problems in the Question and Answer Blog

Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law - 4th edition cover


You can get a lot more information about Ontario Family Law issues, including a comprehensive explanation of child custody, moving with the children, child support, and most other common family law issues by downloading this $9.99 Kindle eBook, Kobo eBook, or iBook for your iPad or iPhone or ordering it from Amazon as a paperback. 

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But, it is always best to discuss your situation with a top family law lawyer to get advice that is specific to your situation.  Certified Specialist in Family Law, John Schuman, is known for his concern for children in separation and divorce and has won many child custody cases.  To contact John, call 416-446-5847, email him , or fill out the form below. (Please note we cannot provide legal; advice by email.) You can use the same form to comment on this page.


Many thousands of people get family law assistance from this website everyday.  If you have found this page useful, please share it on your social network using the Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest buttons at the bottom of the page.  Please comment on this page using the comments section at the bottom to share your thoughts on the best ways to resolve matters after a separation. 


Our Separation Agreement is About To Expire, Does My Ex Still Have To Pay Child Support Until Our Child Turns 18?

child-support-torontoChild support is the right of the child.  Parents generally cannot deprive a child of his or her right to child support.  Further, a child's right to child support can go past the child's eighteenth birthday.   So, just because a separation agreement or child support agreement ends, the obligation to pay child support does not. Even if parents agree that child support will end on a certain date, that does not mean that child support will end.  

Ontario Family Law Podcast


10 - Child Support - Who Pays and How Much?

24 - How to Have a Valid and Enforceable Separation Agreement

40 - How to Keep Your Money in Separation and Divorce

Section 33(12) of Ontario's Family Law Act says that if a parent brings the issue of child support before the Court for a child under the age of 18, the court will only make an Order that is different from the Child Support Guideline Tables  if the child support arrangements benefit the child as much, or more than, the amount payable under those tables.  Any agreement that suggested child support should end before a child turns 18 or becomes 17 years old would clearly violate that provision.


One of the biggest mistakes people make after separation or divorce is not paying child support because not paying support really upsets judges.  So, for as long as a child is entitled to support, the paying parent should just pay it, whether there is an agreement or not.  Of course, the payor parent should make the payments in such a way that there is a record of having made them (no cash!) so that the other parent cannot go back and ask for the same child support again.


For more information about how child support works, watch the child support video below, or listen to this episode of the award winning Ontario Family Law Podcast.


Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law - 4th edition cover


You can get a lot more information about Ontario Family Law issues, including a comprehensive explanation of child support, spousal support, property division, and most other common family law issues by downloading this $9.99 Kindle eBook, Kobo eBook, or iBook for your iPad or iPhone or ordering it from Amazon as a paperback.  But to understand how the law works precisely in your situation, it is always best to speak to a good Family Law Lawyer.

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To make sure child support is right in your case, speak to a top family law lawyer about your rights and options. Child support is the right of the child.  Contact Certified Specialist in Family Law (and author of the book above), John Schuman, by emailing him, calling 416-446-5847, or using the contact form below.  We answer all inquiries promptly and we can arrange for you to come in quickly for a consultation (charged at a reduced hourly rate).


Many thousands of people get family law assistance from this website everyday.  If you have found this page useful, please share it on your social network using the Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest buttons at the bottom of the page.  Please comment on this page using the comments section at the bottom to share your thoughts on the child support issues after separation and how to best to protect the children.


How Do I Convince A Family Court Judge That My Ex Is A Bad Parent?

child custody


Concerns and differences about parenting are a frequent cause of separation and divorce.  Alternatively, concerns about changes in a spouse’s behaviour can lead to the end of the relationship and even mental health concerns.  Added to that is the fact that separations often occur when one spouse believes the other is a bad persons, which can lead to concerns about what the children are learning from the example being set by that parent.  All of these concerns can mean that when parents separate, one or both of them can feel that it is best for the children if they have little contact with the other parent.

 

Ontario Family Law Podcast

7 - Custody of the Children - what it means and how it is decided

15 - Family Court Step by Step - Part 2 - From First Appearance to the last appearance before trial

17 - Sole Custody, Joint Custody, Shared Custody- How do Judges Decide?

19 - What To Do If A Child Won't See One Parent

27 - Domestic Violence- The Critical Information

35 - Resolving Children's Issues Outside of Court

However, moving out and taking the children, or otherwise acting unilaterally to prevent the children from seeing the other parent can get a parent into big trouble in Family Court.  If children are going to be denied post-separation contact with a parent, then invariably, the parents will be heading for Family Court – perhaps on an emergency motion to restrict or allow a parent to have parenting time.

 

Any parent going to Family Court on one of those motions has to convince the judge that he or she is right to get the order he or she wants for the kids.   Obviously, to get the desired order, a parent has to know how to be convincing on parenting issues while in Court before the judge.  Here are some tips on how to get the right parenting order including, where necessary, showing the judge that the other parent is a bad parent:


1.Family Court judges are not interested in how one parent feels about the other parent – even if that parent has been wronged.  Ontario (and Canadian) Family Law says that all a judge is consider is what is in the child’s best interest.  A parent who is focused on the children’s perspective and best tells the judge what the children need will be the parent who wins. The parent who appears focused on him or herself will lose in Family Court.


2.Parents have to base their case in evidence, not suspicions.  Judges don’t care what people think or what their concerns are – no matter how terrible one parent believes the other parent may be.  Judges only care what the evidence says.  They need to see proof.  Judges will not base a decision on suspicions unless there is some evidence those suspicions are correct.


 

3.If a parent has not screwed up yet, there is no basis on which a judge can say that he or she is a bad parent.  The only exception to this is where there is objective evidence (not just the other parent saying) that a parent has threatened to harm the children or has said things that sound like he or she might let the children be harmed.  Other than that, it is necessary to create an opportunity for a parent to make big parenting mistakes – but obviously in a way that the children can be protected from any real harm.  Than can require some careful planning, and perhaps some ideas from an excellent family lawyer.


4.Judges view parents who try to undermine a child’s relationship with the other parent as a bad parent.  They believe it shows poor judgment.  So, if there are texts, facebook posts, tweets, instant messages, emails or other evidence of a parent saying bad things about the other parent, or trying to undermine the children’s relationship with the other parent, that can convince a judge that the parent sending them is a bad parent. Judges can also view not doing enough to make a child go for parenting time with the other parent as an indication of bad parenting. 


police-lights

5.Domestic violence, against any family member, is also a sign of bad parenting. Section 24(4) of the Children’s Law Reform Act specifically requires a judge to consider all forms of domestic violence when evaluating parenting.  However, judges will not like any party who makes false or exaggerated claims of domestic violence to get an advantage in Family Court.


6.Domestic violence is not the only form of conflict that harms children.  The evidence is clear that creating parental conflict in front of the kids actually does brain damage.   Creating or exposing children to parental conflict is bad parenting.


7.Finally, it is almost certain that a judge will view a parent who defies court orders, or will not cooperate with a parenting coordinator, as a bad parent.  But, again, a judge will not assume that a parent will breach a court order unless there is some evidence of the parent doing so in the past or there is clear of evidence of the parent’s intention to breach an Order (or defy a parenting coordinator).



The key to convincing a judge, even on an emergency motion for child custody, is to have evidence of a parents bad parenting and to express those concerns from the child’s perspective – how do the concerns negatively impact the child.   Once that is established, it is important to tell the judge, in light of the parenting concerns, what parenting arrangement is in the child’s best interest so the judge can order it.

Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law - 4th edition cover

 

You can get a lot more information about Ontario Family Law issues, including a comprehensive explanation of the Family Law related to parenting after separation, child support, and most other common family law issues by downloading this $9.99 Kindle eBook, Kobo eBook, or iBook for your iPad or iPhone or ordering it from Amazon as a paperback.

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However, if protecting the well-being of your children should always be your top priority.  To get the best advice, specific to your situation, you should speak to family lawyer.  Certified Specialist in Family Law, John Schuman, is known for his concern for children in separation and divorce and has won many child custody cases.  To contact John, call 416-446-5847, email him , or fill out the form below. You can use the same form to comment on this page.

 

Many thousands of people get family law assistance from this website everyday.  If you have found this page useful, please share it on your social network using the Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest buttons at the bottom of the page.  Please comment on this page using the comments section at the bottom to share your thoughts on the best ways to resolve matters for your children after a separation. 

 

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Our Child Has Come to Live with Me, How Do I Stop My Child Support Payments to My Ex?

child choosing to change homes

Child support payments are based on where I child actually lives, not where a Court Order or Separation Agreement says that they are living, or should be living.  Since child support is the right of the child, it also does not matter why the child is living where the child is living; child support goes to the parent with whom a child is living primarily.  (If the child lives approximately equally with both parents, read this page for how child support works).  However when a child’s situation changes, the Family Responsibility Office does not have the authority to stop collecting child support.  

 

Ontario Family Law Podcast

10 - Child Support - Who Pays and How Much?

14 - Family Court Step by Step - Part 1 - Starting and Responding to Family Court Proceedings

32 - How to Change a Support Order

18 - How to Hear the Voice of the Child in Custody/Access Cases

As with most things in Family Law, there is an easy way and a hard way to do things.   If both parents agree that the child has changed homes, or is no longer entitled to child support (note child support does not always end when a child turns 18),  or is living on his or her own, then they can write to the FRO and ask it to stop collecting child support.  The FRO will verify the information with each parent then stop collecting.   Alternatively, the parent who was receiving support can send in this form to stop the FRO from collecting support.

 

When a child switches homes, child support should not just stop.  The parent who was receiving child support should start paying it.  That can make some parents reluctant to acknowledge that a child has moved.   However, not paying child support, and not agreeing that you should stop receiving child support, is a guaranteed way to get into trouble in family court.

 

When one parent will not acknowledge that a child’s circumstances have changed, and the way the FRO is enforcing support must also change, then it is necessary to go to Family Court.   Only a judge can look at the circumstances and determine which parent should be paying support and how much. (It is also possible to arbitrate those issues if both parents agree.)  The judge will tell the FRO what to do.  If the parties do not agree on the change, only a judge can change how much support the FRO is collecting and from whom.


 

Many people may avoid seeking the appropriate change to child support because of the complexities of the Family Court’s procedures.  The Ontario Government’s Child Support Online Recalculation Service only changes support when a support payer’s income changes in certain ways; it cannot change support because a child’s circumstances changed.

 

Fortunately, there is a simplified court procedure for changing an existing support order.  That procedure is based on the premise that there is no dispute about the facts of the case.  Where a child has clearly changed homes, that fact should be clear to the Court.   Hopefully, when a parent serves a “Motion to Change Support” that will be enough for the other parent to acknowledge the child has moved and agreed to a change in support.  A party who fails to acknowledge the obvious and forcing a parent through the court process to the end can expect to pay most, or all, of the other party’s legal fees.   At the very least, the responding parent should start negotiating because an angry judge may make an order that is worse than the possible settlements.

Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law - 4th edition cover
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You can get a lot more information about Ontario Family Law issues, including a comprehensive explanation of child support, spousal support, property division, and most other common family law issues by downloading this $9.99 Kindle eBook, Kobo eBook, or iBook for your iPad or iPhone or ordering it from Amazon as a paperback.  

 

The best way to protect yourself, your children, and your financial security, is to find out how the law applies specifically to your situation and what steps you should take to get things to work out for you. Certified Specialist in Family Law (and author of the book to the left), John Schuman, has extensive experience assisting complicated child support and custody/access parenting matters.  Contact him right now by using the contact form below, by emailing him, calling 416-446-5869, or using the contact form below.  We answer all inquiries promptly and we can arrange for you to come in quickly for a consultation (charged at a reduced hourly rate).


Many thousands of people get family law assistance from this website every day.  If you have found this page useful, please share it on your social network using the Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest buttons at the bottom of the page.  Please comment on this page using the comments section at the bottom to share your thoughts.



After the Family Court Changes an Order, is the Original Order Still Enforceable?

Ontario Courtroom


Family Law is all about changing family dynamics.   Families do not stop changing just because a court makes a Final Order. Parenting arrangements and child support are particularily prone to changes because children’s lives change as they get older and child support is centered around parents’ incomes, which usually change every year. Consequently, there is a special, simpler, court process to change most Family Court Orders and an online child support recalculation service that is available to many parents to adjust Child Support Orders.   Click here to go to a page the described when you can change parenting and child support orders and the procedures available to make those changes.   If you have to go to court to get the change, listen to this podcast for a detailed explanation of how to do that.



 

Ontario Family Law Podcast

10 - Child Support - Who Pays and How Much?

32 - How to Change a Support Order

40 - How to Keep Your Money in Separation and Divorce

The whole simplified procedure around changing an order is based on the premise that almost all of the issues related to the separation have been addressed in the original final court order.  The court process is shorter precisely because the Family Court Judge is not trying to decide every issue again, but is only making adjustments here and there to reflect how the family has changed since the original order.   Since decisions and settlements on issues such a property division are not affected by on-going changes to the family, those orders are very difficult to change.  

 

When a judge changes a Family Court Final Order, he or she only changes the parts that MUST be changed because a change in the family’s circumstances.   If nothing has happened to make it necessary to change parts of a Family Court Final Order, then the Judge will leave things the way they were.  In fact, the new Order will specify precisely which paragraphs of the original Order the new Order is changing.   The rest of the Final Order remain in effect and the parties can enforce those remaining terms.   One change that a judge can make is to “terminate” a term of an Order, such as a requirement that one party pay support to the other.  If a Court “terminates” a term of an previous Order, than those terms are “dead” and can the parties cannot enforce them.

 

Until a judge has specifically changed or terminated a term of a Final Order, that term remains in full force and effect.

 

Things are a little different for Temporary Orders.  The purpose of a Temporary Order is address issues between the separated spouses or parents until their matter gets to trial or is settled on a final basis.   Once the case is finished, those Temporary Orders are no longer needed.   So, Final Orders have the effect of terminating all Temporary Orders.  Once a Final Order is in effect, all the Temporary Orders are finished and are no longer enforceable – unless the Final Order says that specific terms of a Temporary Order continue to be in effect.

 

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If you need to enforce a Court Order, then probably something is going wrong because one of the parties is not following the terms.  The best way to protect yourself, your children, and your financial security, is to find out how the law applies specifically to your situation and what steps you should take to get things to work out for you.  Certified Specialist in Family Law (and author of the book to the left), John Schuman, has extensive experience assisting clients with difficult legal issues, such as enforcement of Court Orders, or the difficult situations that lead to those Court Orders. Contact him right now by using the contact form below, by emailing him, calling 416-446-5869, or using the contact form below.  We answer all inquiries promptly and we can arrange for you to come in quickly for a consultation (charged at a reduced hourly rate).

  

You can get a lot more information about Ontario Family Law issues, including a comprehensive explanation of child support, spousal support, property division, and most other common family law issues by downloading this $9.99 Kindle eBook, Kobo eBook, or iBook for your iPad or iPhone or ordering it from Amazon as a paperback.  

 

Many thousands of people get family law assistance from this website everyday.  If you have found this page useful, please share it on your social network using the Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest buttons at the bottom of the page.  Please comment on this page using the comments section at the bottom to share your thoughts.



Is it Legal for a Parent to Hide the Birth of a Child From the Other Parent?

motherandstartledbaby


Ontario Family Court Judges generally have a very dim impression of parents, mothers or fathers, who deny their children the opportunity to have a relationship with both parents.  Section 16(10) of the Divorce Act requires that judges give children of married parents the maximum possible contact with each parent that is consistent with the child’s best interestsSection 20(1) of Ontario’s Children’s Law Reform ActSection 20(4) of the Children’s Law Reform Act says that, until decided otherwise, parents are equally entitled to custody of a child.  A significant exception to this is when one parent leaves the child in the care of other parent at separation.  say that by doing so the leaving parent gives the other parent temporary full custody of the children.  This section may not apply in a situation where the separation occurred prior to the child’s birth and the leaving parent was never given the opportunity to leave the child.


Even for very young children, especially infants, current research says that frequent contact with both parent is ideal to allow the children to form a relationship and both with both parents.  Current social science research also shows that it is important for children to develop attachment to both parentsYoung age is not necessarily a reason why a child should not be spending overnights with both parents, but what is most important is frequent contact with both parents and having both parents actively involved in caring for the child, not just visiting.


Ontario Family Law Podcast

7 - Custody of the Children - what it means and how it is decided

14 - Family Court Step by Step - Part 1 - Starting and Responding to Family Court Proceedings

35 - Resolving Children's Issues Outside of Court

One parent refusing to allow the other parent to have any contact with a young child is a situation where it is possible to get an emergency family court order.  This in unfortunate because there is also good scientific research the exposing children to parental conflict can cause children to suffer brain damage.   Those effects can be long lasting and serious.  To avoid that damage parents should first try parenting mediation, with a parenting professional, before going to court.  The parenting professional can help the parents understand the children's needs and help them work out a parenting plan that best suits the child's needs at each stage of development.  If the other parent will never agree to mediation, it is still important to propose it because judges get angry at parents who refuse to try to work out things for the kids without a fight.

 

But, if a parent is denying a child the opportunity to have a relationship with both parents, it is time to go to Court.


You can learn more about the family court process, how to start a family court proceeding, and what to do at each step by listening to the Ontario Family Law Podcast episodes on the Family Court process and the video below.

Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law - 4th edition cover


You can get a lot more information about Ontario Family Law issues, including a comprehensive explanation of child custody, moving with the children, child support, and most other common family law issues by downloading this $9.99 Kindle eBook, Kobo eBook, or iBook for your iPad or iPhone or ordering it from Amazon as a paperback.

Get_it_on_iBooks_Badge_US_1114
New Kobo Logo
new kindle logo

Paperback Available on:

Paperback available on Amazon

 

But, it is always best to discuss your situation with a top family law lawyer to get advice that is specific to your situation.  Certified Specialist in Family Law, John Schuman, is known for his concern for children in separation and divorce and has won many child custody cases.  To contact John, call 416-446-5869, email him , or fill out the form below. (Please note we cannot provide legal; advice by email.) You can use the same form to comment on this page.


Many thousands of people get family law assistance from this website everyday.  If you have found this page useful, please share it on your social network using the Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest buttons at the bottom of the page.  Please comment on this page using the comments section at the bottom to share your thoughts on the best ways to resolve matters after a separation. 



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