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Pension Split in Separation and Divorce

When spouses separate, pension is one of the item under the equalization of assets. Pension earned during a marriage is a joint asset which is subject to division when spouses separate and divorce. According to the law in Ontario, each spouse is entitled to a share of the other spouse’s pension. Some rules have  to be followed on how the division of pension is calculated.

The laws  relating to division of pension fall under the Family Law Act and Ontario Pension Benefits Act. Pension must be valued. Prior to Janaury 2012, there was no standard forms used to have the pension valued. An independent actuarian could be retained to determine the value of the pension. After January 2012, a standard form is used to value pension.  Members of Ontario regulated pension plan must complete relevant  Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) forms. The spouse requesting the valuation of a pension must complete the Form 1-Application for Family Law Value. This pension value once determined is used for the equalization and inserted on the Net Family Property.

Call us @ 905-290-7205 for more information.

Record Suspension

Record Suspension( formally known as Pardon) allows persons convicted of a criminal offence and have subsequently completed their sentence and rehabilitated  themselves. Such persons may apply to the Parole Board of Canada to have their criminal record  suspended. What this means is that once record suspension process is complete, the criminal records are kept separate and apart from the other criminal records in the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) database. A search of  the CPIC database will not show the criminal record.

A person has to be eligible to apply for record suspension. A person is eligible to apply for record suspension, if the person:

  1. Has been convicted of an offence under a Canadian Act of Parliament;
  2. Has been convicted of an offence in another country and transferred to Canada;
  3. Has completed all the sentences related to the criminal offence which includes the following:
    1. All sentences of imprisonment,
    1. All fines, surcharges, costs, restitution and compensation orders
    1. Any probation orders.

Under the Criminal Records Act, all offences are not eligible for record suspension. Schedule 1 offences relating to sexual offences under the Criminal  Records Act and offences of more than three  prosecuted by indictment each with a prison sentence of 2 years or more. A person may apply for record suspension if  the person has been convicted of an offence referred to in Schedule 1, if the Board is satisfied of the following that:

  1. The person was not in a position of trust or authority towards the victim of t he offence and the victim was in a relationship of dependency with him or her;
  2. The person did not use, threaten to use or attempt to use violence , intimidation or coercion in relation to the victim;
  3. The person was less than 5 years older than the victim;

The person has the onus of satisfying the Board that the above three are met.

There are certain restrictions on the Application of Record Suspension. All criminal offences are not eligible for record suspension. Under the Criminal Records Acts, a person is ineligible to apply until 5 years in summary offences and 10 years in indictable offences after the expiration of any sentence including a sentence of imprisonement, a period of probation and the payment of any fine, imposed for  an offence.

Classification of Offences-Offences are classified as Summary Offences and Indicable Offence.

What is Summary Offences?- The less serious offences conviction is liable to a fine of not more than $2,000.00 or  imprisonment of six month or both.

What is Indictable Offences?- The serious offences punishable by imprisonment f or two, five, ten and fourteen years or life are indictable offences.

The Parol Board of Canada is  the official federal agency responsible for ordering, denying and revoking record suspension under the Criminal Records Act. The Application Guide provided by the Parole Board of Canada includes the Application forms and the list of all the necessary steps and additional information required with the Application.

The person applying for record suspension also requires the following documents:

  • Photo Identifications
  • Proof of Citizenship, if born outside of Canada
  • Fingerprints
  • Court Information Form for all the offences
  • Local police records checks for all locations where one has lived for more than 5 years
  • Measurable Benefits/Sustained Rehabilitation Form
  • Schedule 1 Exception Form, if application

Procurement of some  of these documents are subject to additional fees. It takes few months to gather all these information and another 18 months approximately to complete the application process.

We can guide and assist you in this process. We have  the experience. Call us for more information.

Exclusive Possession of Matrimonial Home

According to section 24(1) of the Family Law Act, the court may grant exclusive possession of the matrimonial home or part of it to one spouse. The court may also make a decision on the terms of the possession. The criteria to determine whether to make an order of exclusive possession is mentioned under section 24(3) of the Family Law Act.

What does exclusive possession mean?

Married couples, who have an interest in a home which they ordinarily occupy as a family residence, have an equal right of possession of  their matrimonial home. Either party can apply to the court for exclusive possession order. Before such order is granted, the court will consider the following criteria:

  1. Best interest of the children involved
  2. Any violence committed against the other spouse or  children
  3. Financial situation of both spouses
  4. Any written agreement between the spouses
  5. Availability of any other suitable and affordable accomodation
  6. Any  existing court order regarding the family property or support order

The court order will typically state that one spouse is allowed to stay in or returned to in  the home while the other party will not go to the property. If children are involved, the court order will also say that the children will stay on the property.

Call me @ 905-290-7205 for more information.

Excluded Property under Family Law Act

Certain Properties under the Family Law Act are excluded from the calculation of Net Family Property (NFP). The NFP is calculated as of the Valuation date, which is usually the separation date and  includes the details of assets, debts and liabilities for equalization. Certain properties are not shared between spouses. Such properties are shown as excluded properties on the NFP does not become part of the net family property. NFP is the total of all the assets less the liabilities and less the excluded properties.

Excluded properties are as follows:

  1. Gifts or inheritances received from third persons during the marriage
  2. Income of such gifts and inheritances,
  3. Insurance proceeds
  4. Court settlements
  5. Properties agreed by spouses by signing a domestic contracts
  6. Properties other than matrimonial home, if traced as a property mentioned above

NFP is the total of all the assets less the liabilites and less the excluded properties. The spouse whose NFP is more will give the other spouse one-half of the difference between them.

Call us @905-290-7205 for more information.

Matrimonial Home

Under the Ontario Family Law Act, matrimonial home is defined as ‘every property in which a person has an interest and that is or, if  spouses have separated, was at the time of separation ordinarily occupied by the  person and his/her spouse as their family residence’. A home is a matrimonial home only if spouses are married.

The Family Law Act gives a special treatment to matrimonial home when spouses separate. Let us see how.

Right to Possession:  Both spouses have equal right to possession, regardless of ownership. This means they both have equal rights to live in the home. When spouses separate, the non-owner spouse is entitled to live the house. The owner spouse cannot ask the non-owner spouse to move out of the matrimonial home unless there is a separation agreement or a court order.

Prohibition against Sale: The owner spouse cannot dispose of or encumber an interest in a matrimonial home. Under the Ontario Family Law Act, this can be done only if:

  • The other spouse consents to the transaction;
  • The other spouse has released all rights under this Part by a separation agreement;
  • The court has ordered the authorization of the transaction;
  • The property is not designated by both spouses as a matrimonial home and a designation of another property has been made by both spouses which is registered in the relevant land registry office and not cancelled.

If either of the spouse disposes of or encumbers an interest in a matrimonial home in contravention of the above, the court may  set aside such the transaction on an application made the other spouse having an interest in the property.

Call us for more information @905-290-7205.

Financial Disclosures

Financial Disclosure is the most important part in any family law dispute. Family Law Act requires both parties to complete their financial disclosures stating their incomes, expenses, assets, debts and liabilities. The financial disclosures can be done by completing Financial Statement under the Ontario Family Law Act and Family Law Rules.

What is Financial Statement?

Financial statement is a court form where partied provide all financial information along with the associated documents. There are two court forms- Form 13 and Form 13.1. It is important to know which form is required.

Form 13 is required if a claim is made for support only, ie., child support, spousal support or both. Form 13.1 is required to be completed if there is a claim for support and property claim or for exclusive possession of the matrimonial home.

Financial statement is required to be affirmed or sworn.

Both parties are required to attach the following documents with their Financial Statement:

  1. Income tax returns, with all schedules and attachments, and Notices of Assessment for the three most recent years;
  2. Most recent pay stub;
  3. Record of Employment it the party has recently lost his/her job;
  4. If a party is self-employed, the party is required to provide three years of their business financial statement. The party is also required to provide the value of the business;
  5. If the party is on Employment insurance, Ontario Works, Ontario Disability Support Program or Workplace Safety and Insurance Board Benefits, Canada Pension Plan or a private pension plan, a statements showing the benefits paid and being paid;
  6. The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation assessment for all real estate owned by the party.

Documents required as of the date of separation and if available the date of marriage:

  1. A mortgage statement for any real property;
  2. Copies of all bank, RRSP, and investment account statements;
  3. Statements for Lines of Credit, Credit cards, car loans, personal loans, whether joint or sole.

The above list could be more depending on the complexity of the party’s financial situation.

Call us for more information @905-290-7205.


Closed and Open Mediation

There is a difference between closed and open mediation.

Closed Mediation maintains confidentiality of the parties. This means that the negotiations and offers made are not used as evidence in any legal proceedings between the parties. Mediators will not give any report to the court or to the lawyers of the parties. Most family mediations held in Ontario are closed mediations.

Open Mediation waives the confidentiality which means that whatever said during the mediation process can be disclosed in any legal proceedings between the parties. In an open mediation, the mediators prepare a report when the mediation comes to and. This report may be submitted to the court.

Pre-Mediation Screening

Pre-mediation screening takes place before the parties agree to proceed with the mediation process. It helps the mediator to determine the procedural needs of each party and whether mediation is appropriate for the parties or not. The mediator meets with each party separately at the intake meetings. Each party completes an intake form.

Screening is usually for domestic violence and abuse, mental health and any drug/alcohol addiction or any vulnerability fears the parties may have. This initial meeting gives an opportunity to the party to seek more information and to clarify any questions that will help the party to make a decision. This would establish if the mediation is appropriate or not.

Screening is an important step and is taken very seriously at our office.

Call us @ 905-290-7205 for more information.

Ontario Land Transfer Tax

Every person who has acquired a beneficial interest in the land by completing a registration of conveyance is liable to pay Land Transfer Tax under the Land Transfer Tax Act. Land Transfer Tax is payable on each transfer/conveyance of land in Ontario unless exempt under the Act. It is usually calculated based on the value of consideration. According to the Act, any conveyance completed on or after January 1 2017, tax will be calculated in the following manner at the rate of:

0.5% of a total consideration of the conveyance upto $55,000.00

1% of a total consideration of the conveyance that exceeds $55,000.0 upto and including $250,000.00

1.5% of a total consideration that exceeds $250,000.00 upto and including $400,000.00

2% of a total consideration that $400,000.00

2.5% of a total consideration that exceeds $2,000,000.00 and the conveyance of the land that consists of one and not more than two single family residences.


Benefits of Family Law Mediation

Here are some of the reasons why one should opt for family law mediation over litigation. Court process is stressful and expensive. Mediation is a dispute resolution process facilitated by the neutral and impartial third party.

Family Law Mediations is a voluntary process. The parties meet face to face (with or without their respective lawyers) with the mediator. The parties have control over the mediation process. It is the party’s decision to participate and to continue the mediation process. If they are not happy with this process, they can terminate it at any time.

Mediation is an informal process and removes the adversarial atmosphere found in the court process and litigation. There is no win and lose situation in mediation. Problem solving is the key where parties have the priority to negotiate the terms of their separation.

Mediation is confidential and private. It gives the parties a platform to communicate and have an open discussion to arrive at a mutual settlement. The mediator facilitates this communication between the parties and helps them make decisions for themselves. The mediator does not make decisions, the parties make decision.

Mediation process focuses on settlement of all the issues between the parties and in the interest that is common to both parties. In this process the parties and the children are the priority.

It is cost effective. Parties share the cost of the mediator. Of course party pays for their own lawyers, if they have one, but since the purpose is to settle the matter, the costs are usually kept low. This is not so when the matter is in court or out of court negotiations.

If you require family law mediation, Call me @ 905-290-7205 for more information.