FAMILY & DIVORCE

family lawyer Toronto- divorce attorney Toronto

family lawyer Toronto- divorce attorney Toronto

Family & Divorce Lawyer In Toronto And Vaughan

Hummingbird Lawyers LLP has a family lawyer in Toronto and Vaughan offices. The team works to resolve all types of family-related legal matters in a fair, respectful, and punctual fashion. Regarded as an experienced Divorce Lawyers in Toronto, we pride ourselves on our wealth of experience in the areas of relationship breakdown (including separation and divorce), spousal support, child support, division of property and equalization, custody and access, pensions and trusts, and mobility issues.

Through our experience and knowledge, we understand the importance of getting these challenging matters right, especially when children are involved. Our collaborative approach to family law minimizes conflict by swiftly arriving at a fair, practical settlement.

Our team understands how difficult these situations can be, both emotionally and legally. Because of this, we also support you for the road ahead, with counsel in the division and disposition of shared property, updated estate planning, and custody agreements. Our collaborative approach to family law minimizes conflict by swiftly arriving at a fair, practical settlement for our clients in Toronto, and the surrounding GTA.

Child Custody Lawyer

Seeking divorce can be an overwhelming legal step, and there are many variables that you need to be aware of. Retaining legal counsel for matters of Family Law can help you understand the basics when seeking relief from the Family Courts in Ontario.

Understanding the requirements for getting a divorce, highlighting the forms you need to fill out, how to set up living arrangements for your children, education on child and spousal support and the sharing of property and debt can help you as you look to move forward.

Child Custody Lawyer

If you are seeking counsel in the areas of relationship breakdown, Hummingbird Lawyers LLP can help walk you through an overwhelming situation while offering support and legal counsel.

We understand how difficult it can be, and our Family Law team can be there for you. Please use our Family Law Client Intake Form, or contact Jaime Dym for additional information about our wide range of family law services.


Family and Divorce Lawyers Services

  • Collaborative Family Law

    A collaborative approach to family law reduces conflict by arriving at a fair, practical settlement that is negotiated between the parties. While separations can be emotionally and legally challenging, you’ll be supported every step of the way with a lawyer focusing on child custody and access issues, and skilled in advising with regard to the division and disposition of shared property, updated estate planning, and support.

    “Collaborative” divorces can take many forms: oftentimes, all of a family’s issues can be resolved with the assistance of resolution-oriented counsel representing each party and assisting in the negotiation.
    For more complex matters, parties may wish to participate in the collaborative process, which involves a series of meetings between the parties, their lawyers, experts in the areas that the specific family requires, and a neutral third party who all come to the table with the goal of reaching a comprehensive agreement. The collaborative process works best when there is no power imbalance between the parties and both sides commit to making a fair compromise.

  • Divorce

    A divorce is a straightforward process that requires a separated couple to submit specific documents to their local court. For a divorce order to be granted, the court needs to be assured that all underlying issues relating to the dissolution of a family are resolved: this includes the custody of the parties’ children, a parenting schedule, child support and the allocation of child-related special and extraordinary expenses, spousal support and the division of a family’s property.

    The court also needs to know that the parties to the divorce have been living separate and apart for at least one year. Please note that “separate and apart” does not necessarily mean in separate houses – it simply describes the fact that the marriage is over with no reasonable probability of the parties reconciling.

  • Contested Divorces

    Spouses must agree on issues related to their children, property, assets, and spousal support before a divorce can be finalized. If they don’t, the divorce is considered contested. A contested divorce can be resolved without a trial through dispute resolution. But if this isn’t possible, a trial may be necessary.

  • Uncontested Divorces

    An uncontested divorce is a simplified divorce procedure that avoids costly court appearances because the parties have already agreed on issues including child support, spousal support, division of property, and child custody and access.

  • Spousal Support

    Family law defines spousal relationships as financial partnerships. When the partnership breaks down, the person with more income or assets may have to pay support to the other.

    Unlike child support, spousal support is not automatic. The person seeking the support is required to prove entitlement to it. This can be done on a contractual basis (for example, through a marriage contract), on a needs-based basis or on a compensatory basis. The duration and amount of support will differ based on a variety of factors and is determined on a case-by-case basis.
    Former parties to a common-law relationship are entitled to seek spousal support following separation.

  • Child Support

    Dependent children have a legal right to be financially supported by their parents until they are no longer considered a “child of the marriage.” The amount of child support that a parent is required is dictated by that parent’s income. If the child that is receiving support is with one parent more than 60% of the time, the other parent is required to pay full support as established under the Federal Child Support Guidelines. However, in shared parenting situations where a child lives with each parent more than 40% of the time, the payor with the higher income may only need to pay an offset amount of support.

    In addition to child support, parents are required to contribute to a child’s special and extraordinary expenses (also commonly referred to as Section 7 expenses). These differ from family to family and are split between the parents in proportion to their income.

  • Custody and Access Of Children

    Custody refers to the power to make a decision with regard to a child. When parties separate, the law prefers for parents to share the decision making power over the major decisions relating to their children. When this is impossible, one parent is awarded sole custody.
    Access, also referred to as “parenting time”, defines the amount of time the child or children spend with each parent. In most cases, the law abides by the “maximum contact principle” meaning that the child spends the most time possible with both parents.

    The overarching principle in any matter involving a child is to determine what is in the best interests of that specific child. The best interests of the child need to be carefully considered in negotiation or in any matter that is pending in court.

  • Moving with Your Child After Separation or Divorce

    Often referred to as “mobility” cases, one parent’s effort to move a child away from the other parent comprises one of the more contested areas in divorce and family law. A case involving one parent wanting to move a child out of the jurisdiction without the other parent’s consent often winds up in court. The court considers what is in the best interests of the children in making its ruling.

    Sometimes, a parent leaves the area with their child without the other parent’s permission or a court order allowing them to do so. This constitutes a child abduction. Domestically, this is a matter dealt with in the civil courts. Internationally, a parent may need to begin an application pursuant to the Hague Convention on Child Abduction if the child is in a Hague signatory country.

  • Equalization of Net Family Property

    Under the Ontario Family Law Act, when a couple marries, absent an agreement to the contrary, each becomes automatically entitled to an equal share of the profits of the union. At the end of the union when the parties go their separate ways, they calculate their respective net worth on the day of marriage and date of separation (also called the valuation date) and the person with a higher net worth makes a payment to the other, that ensures that both parties leave the marriage on equal financial footing.

    The process of equalization can be complex in some matters and requires the exchange of full and frank disclosure between the parties. In some cases, an unequal division of net family property is appropriate. It is important to work with a lawyer who is skilled in financial issues to help determine issues relating to the unequal division of property. Common-law spouses are not entitled to equalize net family property, but may have claims to share the wealth accumulated during the relationship based on a variety of other legal theories.

  • Complex Estate Planning and Divorce Law

    Estate planning can be challenging when it involves complex family situations including multiple marriages and children from those marriages including siblings, step siblings and their spouses, as well as any estranged family members. Trusts, Pensions, Taxation and Family Businesses can also be involved and require careful planning and close attention to detail. At Hummingbird, our estate planning lawyers and family law lawyers work togetger to ensure that your interests are protected and each person in your family is accounted for.

  • Trusts, Pensions, Taxation and Family Businesses

    The aim of a family law lawyer is to secure your family and business by developing your commercial vision. This includes your personal and corporate wills; your family’s economic future; your personal and commercial investments; and smooth transition management when necessary, all while providing ongoing professional counsel and maintaining key relationships.

  • Litigation Strategy and Management

    Some matters cannot be resolved outside of court for a variety of reasons: In some families, one spouse will not participate in negotiations while in others, both spouses have a good faith belief that their side should be adopted and are not able to reach middle-ground. While litigation is rarely the first tactic that should be used, it is sometimes necessary to obtain the assistance of a court in moving a matter forward. For matters that must be in litigation, it is important to work with a lawyer who will strategize the most effective path through the process and will advise you of your rights properly along the way.

    Managing a matter in litigation requires a specific skill set as well: experienced counsel will know whether and when to bring various types of motions and request specific relief and will also be able to guide you with respect to containing the cost of the litigation.

  • Family Law Appeals

    A Family Law appeal depends on three things: Which court made the original order; what type of order was made; and is this your first or second appeal? Appeals from the Ontario Court of Justice should be made to the Superior Court of Justice, unless legislation states that you should go to another Court.

    A court order or arbitration award can be appealed on a variety of factors, but each matter must be analyzed for its specific circumstances. Appeals can be heard based on a perceived error in the law being applied to the case, an error of fact, or a mixed error of law or fact. Appeals require a specific skill set and knowledge that differ from litigation and must be brought and replied to promptly in order to comply with court deadlines.

  • Domestic Contracts

    Domestic contracts can be entered into between non-married couples, couples on the verge of getting married, married couples during the marriage, or parties separating following the breakdown of a marriage. Domestic contracts can govern each party’s rights and responsibilities during or after a relationship. To ensure that a marriage contract is strong (and will therefore be upheld by a court in the event of a problem down the line), parties need to ensure that they exchange full and frank financial disclosure and obtain independent legal advice when entering into the contract. Specific types of domestic contracts include cohabitation agreements, prenuptial agreements (properly called marriage contracts) and separation agreements.

  • Separation Agreements

    A separation agreement is a type of domestic contract between two people who used to be a couple. The agreement can outline each person’s rights and obligations upon separation, including issues surrounding the division of property, spousal and child support as well as who is responsible for caring for the children and where they will live.

  • Cohabitation Agreements

    Couples in a common-law relationship can enter into a cohabitation agreement to protect their respective rights. It can state what you both want your financial and family arrangements to be. It states who owns what was purchased while living together as well as how much support will be paid and how property is divided if the relationship ends.

  • Prenuptial Agreements/Marriage Contracts

    In Ontario, prenuptial agreements are referred to as a “marriage contract”. These are a type of domestic contract. A marriage contract is used to disclose and organize a couple’s finances and outline the rights and responsibilities between each party in the event of a separation.

Frequently Asked Questions

My spouse and I just separated, can I move out of the matrimonial home?

There is no simple answer to this question other than “talk to your lawyer first”.

The facts of each family law case are unique and it is possible for you to prejudice the rights and claims you may have against your spouse if you vacate the matrimonial home without having first addressed other issues such as support and property division.

It is important to note that as a married spouse, regardless of whether or not the title of the home is registered under your name, you are entitled to occupy (possess) the matrimonial home, unless there is a court order or a written agreement for exclusive possession of the matrimonial home in favour of one of the spouses.

Vacating the matrimonial home too early will make it very difficult for you to try to move back there, even if the circumstances require you to do so.

It will affect parenting arrangements and the children’s (if any) primary residence. Furthermore, it can affect your obligations to pay support or your entitlement to receive support from your spouse.

On the other hand, there are compelling reasons for one spouse to vacate the matrimonial home soon after separation and that is to reduce conflict between the parties and (if applicable) to reduce the risk of emotional harm to the children.

In cases with a history of domestic abuse, there may also be safety concerns that would compel one spouse to vacate the matrimonial home immediately.

In short, this decision requires a cost-benefit analysis that is fact-specific. Given the multiple layers of issues that arise from the breakdown of a domestic relationship, it is best to seek the advice of a family law lawyer to understand what is the best decision for you after considering all the different angles of this decision and understanding how your other rights and obligations may be affected.

My spouse and I are separated and we own our home together, does that mean that he can buy me out if we decide to sell the matrimonial home?

No! Unless there is an agreement between the parties with respect to a “right of first refusal”, one spouse does not have a ‘special right’ to purchase the other spouse’s interest in the matrimonial home.

In fact, the courts in Ontario have repeatedly recognized that each spouse is entitled to receive fair market value for his or her interest in the matrimonial home once it is ordered to be sold.

The Ontario Court of Appeal has stated that when selling the matrimonial home after separation, both spouses/owners are free to bid at the sale but neither party can be given a right of first refusal.

Therefore, unless you consent to it, your spouse has no special right to purchase your share in the matrimonial home.

My spouse has offered to purchase my interest in the matrimonial home at fair market value, what are the risks if I say yes?

When spouses are discussing selling and dividing their assets after separation, the proposal of one spouse buying the interest of the other spouse in a jointly-held property comes up frequently.

The right of first refusal–which means giving your spouse the right to purchase your interest in a matrimonial home (or other property), before any other potential buyer–is a right that can only be obtained through consent.

Therefore, before you agree to sell your share to your spouse, you should be aware of a few risks that can affect you.

Quantifying the economic value of your home may be difficult and you may hear the other side saying: “appraisal reports are too low”, “real estate opinions are too high” and so on.

A common practice for parties in such scenario is to list their home on MLS for sale and the spouse with the right of first refusal would then meet or beat the best offer.

The problem with this practice is that ‘the right of first refusal’ has to be disclosed to the potential buyers, which then distorts the market: it removes the need for that spouse to compete with the market and it discourages other interested buyers.

Also, if the spouse who has been granted the right of first refusal is living in the matrimonial home, he or she may make less of an effort to maintain the property in a condition that would increase its resale value.

Before agreeing to grant the right of first refusal to your spouse, a right that only you–and not the court–can give him or her, make sure that you speak with a family law lawyer, who can advise you on what would be the best, comprehensive deal you can make, taking into account all of the other financial claims and obligations that pertain to your case.

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    Hummingbird Lawyers strategically assists businesses and individuals in the areas of corporate law, commercial and residential real estate transactions, wills and estates, employment law and commercial and family law litigation.

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