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Top 3 things you should know about passports for children – video

This video review the the top three things Canadians should to know passports for children, including the fact that children who travel need a Canadian passport.

Passport Canada has a number of rules pertaining to passports, which included specific provisions applicable to children anyone aged 3 to 16 and infants anyone under the age of 3. Specifically:

• All Canadians entering the U.S. by air — including children whether accompanied by a parent or not — must have a valid Canadian passport.

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

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

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

We hope you have found this video helpful. If you require further information about please give us a call or visit our website at http://www.russellalexander.com or For further information, visit the Passport Canada website at: http://www.ppt.gc.ca/index.aspx 

Wednesday’s Video Clip: Top 3 things you should know about passports for children

In this video we review the top three things Canadians should to know passports for children, including the fact that children who travel need a Canadian passport.

Passport Canada has a number of rules pertaining to passports, which included specific provisions applicable to children anyone aged 3 to 16 and infants anyone under the age of 3.

We hope you have found this video helpful. If you require further information about please give us a call or visit our website at http://www.russellalexander.com or For further information, visit the Passport Canada website at: http://www.ppt.gc.ca/index.aspx

Russell I. Alexander Awards 2013 Charitable Giving Fund Grant to Lynx Minor Hockey

Russell I. Alexander Giving Fund

lynx

NEWS & PRESS

Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Contact: Darla Weir
Marketing Coordinator, 905.655.6335

Russell I. Alexander Awards 2013 Charitable Giving Fund Grant to Lynx Minor Hockey

Lindsay Girls Hockey Association is excited to receive $5,000.00.

LINDSAY, ON September 7, 2013 –

A local business has just boosted the Lindsay Girls Hockey Association rep hockey team with a grant of $5,000.00. The hockey organization was founded in 1998 and celebrating its 15th Year. The Lynx Hockey League and Rep program supports 130 female players ages 9 to 17. This grant will support the replacement of home jerseys for teams from Atom to Midget.

The Russell I. Alexander Charitable Giving Fund provides grants and financial support to community organizations that are doing great work, but may not be as visible as some of their larger counterparts.

Lynx President, Len McGinn said that, “As an organization we strive to maintain a hockey environment that stresses development, friendship and fair play. The generous donation by the Russell Alexander Giving Fund will allow for the replacement of jerseys that have been in use since 2006 and not see a substantial increase in registration fees to our families.”

About Russell I. Alexander

Russell I. Alexander is a law firm dedicated solely to family law. With experienced lawyers and staff of 10 people, the firm provides guidance on matters relating to family law. For additional information about the Russell I. Alexander Giving Fund, please visit http://www.russellalexander.com.

Previous Giving Fund recipients include: Covenant House Homeless Youth Shelter, Lindsay Muskies Hockey Association and the Whitby Girls Hockey Association.

To learn more about the Russell I. Alexander, Family Lawyers, you can also visit them on Facebook at:

http://www.facebook.com/RussellAlexanderFamilyLawyers

Interviews with Mr. Alexander and or his staff can be arranged by contacting 905.655.6335.

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Russell I. Alexander Awards 2013 Charitable Giving Fund Grant to Lynx Hockey

Russell I. Alexander Giving Fund

NEWS & PRESS

Saturday, September 7, 2013
Contact: Darla Weir
Marketing Coordinator, 905.655.6335

Russell I. Alexander Awards 2013 Charitable Giving Fund Grant to Lynx Hockey

lynx

Lindsay Girls Hockey Association is excited to receive $5,000.00.

LINDSAY, ON September 4, 2013 –

A local business has just boosted the Lindsay Girls Hockey Association rep hockey team with a grant of $5,000.00. The hockey organization was founded in 1998 and celebrating its 15th Year. The Lynx Hockey League and Rep program supports 130 female players ages 9 to 17. This grant will support the replacement of home jerseys for teams from Atom to Midget.

The Russell I. Alexander Charitable Giving Fund provides grants and financial support to community organizations that are doing great work, but may not be as visible as some of their larger counterparts.

Lynx President, Len McGinn said that, “As an organization we strive to maintain a hockey environment that stresses development, friendship and fair play. The generous donation by the Russell Alexander Giving Fund will allow for the replacement of jerseys that have been in use since 2006 and not see a substantial increase in registration fees to our families.”

About Russell I. Alexander

Russell I. Alexander is a law firm dedicated solely to family law. With experienced lawyers and staff of 10 people, the firm provides guidance on matters relating to family law. For additional information about the Russell I. Alexander Giving Fund, please visit http://www.russellalexander.com.

Previous Giving Fund recipients include: Covenant House Homeless Youth Shelter, Lindsay Muskies Hockey Association and the Whitby Girls Hockey Association.

To learn more about the Russell I. Alexander, Family Lawyers, you can also visit them on Facebook at:

http://www.facebook.com/RussellAlexanderFamilyLawyers

Interviews with Mr. Alexander and or his staff can be arranged by contacting 905.655.6335.

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The Dangers of “Kitchen Table” Separation Agreements – Court Does a Re-Write

agreement

The Dangers of “Kitchen Table” Separation Agreements – Court Does a Re-Write

I’ve cautioned before in Court Strikes Down Homemade “Kitchen Table” Separation Agreement about the pitfalls of a do-it-yourself approach to drafting a separation agreement. The recent Ontario decision of Cramer v. Cramer serves as yet another lesson on why it’s a bad idea: disputes often arise, both spouses end up having to hire lawyers anyway, and it takes a judge to re-draft the agreement to bring it in line with the law and the parties’ true wishes.

The couple had separated after 19 years of marriage. The husband, who insisted that lawyers should not be involved – went to an office-supply store and purchased a separation agreement “kit”. He and the wife sat down at their kitchen table and prepared a draft agreement while having coffee and tea. After some revisions, they prepared subsequent drafts and then went through the agreement on a clause-by-clause, page-by-page basis. They made a few more initialed changes before creating a final version, which they signed in the presence of two witnesses. The agreement stated on its fact that it was intended to be a “full and final settlement”.

Although the agreement covered certain necessary items (such as a listing of the couple’s assets, bank accounts and insurance policies, division of household contents, etc.), it unfortunately omitted several very important ones: for example it neglected to deal with spousal support for the wife, and did not provide for a fair division of the husband’s pension.

When the wife later realized that she had likely not received a fair settlement under this do-it-yourself agreement, she brought the matter to court to have it remedied and brought into line with her proper legal entitlements.

The court reviewed the document, as well as the circumstances in which it was negotiated and signed. Both spouses had participated equally in settling the agreement’s terms; neither of them was attempting to take advantage of the other; and both thought the agreement was fair at the time. Moreover, both had received the benefits of the separation agreement, and both had fulfilled their respective obligations.

But the spouses had lacked some very fundamental information at the time, and neither had an accurate understanding of the agreement or its ramifications. The court explained:

When the husband told the wife that she was not entitled to any part of his pension if they were no longer together, and she accepted that fact, it reflects their mutual misunderstanding of its nature. Neither was aware of its characterization as an asset having value prior to retirement. Neither party appears to have any degree of sophistication when it comes to financial affairs …

They had misunderstood the nature of the husband’s pension, and had overlooked the wife’s right to be compensated for the economic disadvantages she had suffered as a result of the marriage, arising from her role as caretaker to the children. From a legal standpoint, the agreement did not comply with the statutory scheme of property division and support that was envisioned by the Ontario Family Law Act.

In light of this fundamental misunderstanding and a mutual mistake, the court had authority to correct the agreement’s terms. It ordered the man to assign and transfer about $80,000 to his wife from his pension, with interest. (As it turned out on the specific facts, however, no adjustment for spousal support was needed since the wife had been living with a new partner since 2009 and married him in 2012. She did not need spousal support at the present time).

In this case, the couple went the do-it-yourself route in order to save money. Instead, they each had to hire lawyers and spend a costly day in court.

For the full text of the decision, see:

Cramer v. Cramer, 2013 ONSC 4182  http://canlii.ca/t/fz79j

Thinking about drafting a separation agreement? We can help. At Russell Alexander, Family Lawyers our focus is exclusively family law, offering pre-separation legal advice and assisting clients with family related issues including: custody and access, separation agreements, child and spousal support, division of family property, paternity disputes, and enforcement of court orders. For more information, visit us at http://www.RussellAlexander.com.

Season 2: Family Matters with Justice Brownstone

 

Wednesday’s Video Clip: Season 2, Family Matters with Justice Brownstone 

In its second season at CHEK and CHCH, Family Matters with Justice Harvey Brownstone, is the only TV show ever hosted by an actual sitting judge. J

Family Matters focuses on the relationship between modern family issues and the justice system, covering topics such as Internet dating, spousal and child support, addictions, parenting, social media, bullying, domestic violence, same-sex marriage/parenting, adoption, child protection, and infidelity.

Justice Brownstone interviews social workers, lawyers, mediators, judges, psychologists, and everyday people to inform and entertain viewers on topics usually not discussed in a sophisticated, intelligent manner on TV

What “Material Change” is Not: Some Real-Life (and Perhaps Surprising) Examples

change

What “Material Change” is Not: Some Real-Life (and Perhaps Surprising) Examples

Recently we wrote about the concept of “material change” in Separation Agreement Rolled into a Court Order – “Material Change of Circumstances” Still Required which involves the notion that a court-imposed order requiring a parent or spouse to pay support may have been fair at the time it was handed down, but subsequently becomes unfair due to unforeseen circumstances. Where a later court finds that such “material change” has taken place, it may have the authority in the right circumstances to vary the initial order accordingly.

This determination of what constitutes “material change” is not always straightforward. Indeed, some scenarios may intuitively seem to qualify on first blush, but on closer examination turn out not to meet the legal standard at all.

Here are a handful of recent and older cases that illustrate this point:

• Early retirement

In Innes v. Innes, the 62-year old support-paying husband decided to take voluntary early retirement, which meant his income would decrease from $200,000 to about $70,000 per year. Finding that he had done so for “lifestyle reasons” related to his new wife and a fondness for golf and vacations (rather than for unexpected health reasons, for example), the court declined to reduce or terminate the $2,000 in monthly support he was obliged to pay his former first wife of 26 years, finding there was no “material change” in the circumstances.

• Bankruptcy

In a case called Brothers v. LeBlanc, the common law husband’s’ bankruptcy was not enough to persuade the court to reduce his obligation, embodied in a separation agreement, to make $1,000 monthly mortgage payments and to pay off a $129,000 mortgage on the former matrimonial home. While accepting that the man’s snow-removal and heavy-equipment operating business had experienced a significant downturn since the agreement was signed four years earlier, the court found that the man was in good health and that the local construction was booming; he should be able to earn close to $90,000 a year if he put his mind to it.

• Supporting a new family

In Couvillon v. Couvillon, the husband failed in his bid to have his child support obligations under a separation agreement reduced. While it was true that he now had new financial responsibilities arising from his decision to marry a second time, his plans to do so were already in place when the separation agreement was negotiated with his first wife. As such, there was no “change” in the legal sense, since his added responsibilities were actually very foreseeable.

As these cases illustrate, “material change” is not an easy concept to pin down. We can help navigate the law and apply it to your specific situation.

For the full text of the cited decisions, see:

Innes v. Innes, 2013 ONSC 2254 http://canlii.ca/t/fx6rv

Brothers v. LeBlanc, 2013 ONSC 4073 http://canlii.ca/t/fzcm6

Couvillon v. Couvillon (1996), 18 R.F.L. (4th) 316 (Ont. Gen. Div.)

At Russell Alexander, Family Lawyers our focus is exclusively family law, offering pre-separation legal advice and assisting clients with family related issues including: custody and access, separation agreements, child and spousal support, division of family property, paternity disputes, and enforcement of court orders. For more information, visit us at www.RussellAlexander.com.

Texting and Family Law – Top 3 Things to Know

texting

Texting and Family Law – Top 3 Things to Know

Virtually everyone texts these days. In the context of Family Law disputes, it can be a useful tool for short, informative exchanges between separated spouses, for example to efficiently communicate on matters relating to the day-to-day care and custody any children they share.

But in the hands of some former couples, they can serve as a high-tech medium for thinly-veiled hostility, confrontation, acrimony and confusion.

Here are the top three things you need to know about text messages under Ontario law:

1. Your texts can tell a judge a lot about you.

In a case called Williamson v. Massinger, the court scrutinized a series of text messages between the separated parents, and found them very helpful in fully understanding the dynamics of the relationship between them. For example, the court was able to rule on the mother’s lack of credibility, based on inconsistencies in her text messages about matters such as her lingering feelings for the father, and her view of his parenting. Other texts demonstrated the mother’s manipulative nature: one of them included a threat – which later materialized – that the father would no longer get to see his child until a court order was in place.

2. Texting your spouse can constitute “violence”.

As I’ve written before “In Family Law, Can Text Messages Amount to “Violence”?” , abusive text messages can sometimes amount to “violence” by one spouse against the other in certain Family Law contexts. For example, in a case called Menchella v. Menchella, the husband’s texts to the wife were found to have met the definition of “violence” under the provisions of the Family Law Act, which finding allowed a court to order that the wife should get exclusive possession of the matrimonial home pending trial. (And that finding was later upheld on the husband’s motion for leave to appeal).

3. Texts can become evidence, and that can run up your court costs.

The exchange of text messages between spouses can become evidence for a later trial, in the same way emails, phone calls, faxes and other similar communications do. But the problem with texts is that they can be quickly (and one might say, indiscriminately) sent, and can quickly tally in the hundreds. This was precisely the case in Martin v. Czarniecki, where the court lamented the fact that “the trial was unnecessarily lengthened by the exhaustive cross-examination of the applicant on the hundreds of emails and text messages” that “achieved little to advance the case or help me to determine the best interests’ of the child…”

For the full-text of the decisions, see:

Williamson v. Massinger, 2011 ONSC 7733 (CanLII) http://canlii.ca/t/fpgs6

Menchella v. Menchella (2013), 2013 ONSC 965; refusing leave to appeal 2012 ONSC 6304 http://canlii.ca/t/fwl9n , http://canlii.ca/t/ftmth

Martin v. Czarniecki, 2013 ONSC 2029 (CanLII) http://canlii.ca/t/fx04f

At Russell Alexander, Family Lawyers our focus is exclusively family law, offering pre-separation legal advice and assisting clients with family related issues including: custody and access, separation agreements, child and spousal support, division of family property, paternity disputes, and enforcement of court orders. For more information, visit us at www.RussellAlexander.com.

What Are The Child Support Guidelines?

Wednesday’s Video Clip: What Are The Child Support Guidelines?

In this video we discuss the child support guidelines.

In 1997, the federal government brought in a set of new rules and tables for calculating the amount of support a parent who does not have custody of his or her child must pay to the parent who has custody.

These rules and tables were later adopted by the Ontario government and are set out in the Child Support Guidelines.

What’s a Pub Without a Liquor License?

 pub

What’s a Pub Without a Liquor License?

In a recent Ontario case called Service v. Service, the court had to (literally) force the hand of the husband whose stubborn refusal to sign documents was jeopardizing the wife’s ability to operate the pub she got as part of the divorce settlement.

The couple had been married more than 30 years and had two children when they decided to divorce. In the course of equalizing their property, they agreed that the husband would transfer to the wife 100% of his interest in a pub that he ran, and this was formalized by way of a court order.

However, it turned out that the pub’s liquor license was shortly up for renewal with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). There were two options: Either the license could be left with the husband for renewal (with the wife’s co-operation) or – given that it had to be in the wife’s name as a new owner – the husband could transfer the license to the wife. Otherwise, the wife would be forced to apply for a brand new license, and that would likely mean she would have to shut the pub down for 8 to 14 weeks while the AGCO processed the paperwork.

The parties agreed that the husband would sign a transfer. But when the wife sent him the license transfer form, he refused to complete it. By now the renewal deadline was looming, so the wife had to go to court to get an order forcing the husband to sign the document.

Not surprisingly, the wife was successful.

The husband – who one can only surmise was trying to frustrate the wife’s ability to run the pub – raised various technical arguments under the Liquor License Act and its regulations, relating to whether he was still a “license holder” in light of the court order granting the wife the husband’s 100% share. In the end, however, the court forced the husband to sign the transfer on-the-spot, before he even left the courthouse, adding:

The quality of Mrs. Service’s operation of the Pub and the degree to which Mr. Service may or may not have been getting in the way of that operation are to be determined on another day.

In awarding the wife $5,000 in legal costs, the court considered: 1) her last-ditch request – just prior to the motion – that the husband sign; 2) his ongoing refusal to do so despite the consent order that had been based on a negotiated agreement between them; and 3) the fact that the wife’s motion had to be brought on an emergency basis due to the husband’s lack of co-operation.

For the full text of the decision:

Service v. Service, 2013 ONSC 2002 http://canlii.ca/t/fwx5z

At Russell Alexander, Family Lawyers our focus is exclusively family law, offering pre-separation legal advice and assisting clients with family related issues including: custody and access, separation agreements, child and spousal support, division of family property, paternity disputes, and enforcement of court orders. For more information, visit us at www.RussellAlexander.com.

Husband Fires Wife – Court Orders Him to Pay Her $20,000 Per Month in Support

fired

Husband Fires Wife – Court Orders Him to Pay Her $20,000 Per Month in Support

In Juma v. Juma, the divorcing couple owned seven businesses together in Kingston, Ontario and Florida, including an indoor golf facility, a snowplow business, a party-supply and tent rental company. The husband held a controlling 51 percent in all of the corporations, while the wife owned 49 percent.

However their main business involved classroom-based software and technology instruction, and virtually all of their income came from this one enterprise. The wife performed the role of paid bookkeeper for that company.

But once they separated the husband fired her, and also cut off her access to all the business and personal accounts. The wife claimed this left her with no income, other than $2,000 a month that the husband voluntarily paid her. She asked the court for temporary child and spousal support pending their divorce trial.

The court considered the facts: For the past few years, the husband had been taking income from the companies in the amount of about $800,000 per year. But in the past year – due to what he said were health problems arising from quadruple by-pass surgery – he claimed income of only about $200,000. Yet when the court examined his medical history and procedures, it concluded that alleged 80% drop in the husband’s income was not sufficiently explained.

Accordingly, for support-calculation purposes the court set his income at $600,000, and the mother’s income at $0. (The court did find that she had access to about $50,000 in funds, but those moneys had been withdrawn from the account, and would be part of an equalization process).

On this basis, the husband was ordered to pay temporary spousal support of $18,000 per month, and child support of $3,000 per month. The wife’s future earning capacity would have to be addressed during the later divorce trial, but her present circumstances called for the husband to pay a reasonable level of support in the short term. She was currently living in Florida only during the winter months, and had no employment visa allowing her to work there. To require her to work temporarily in the Florida-based family business was not feasible in light of the acrimony between the parties. The court wrote:

I understand that, to some extent, [the husband] brought the financial loss of the applicant’s services on himself by firing her, but under all the circumstances, it was probably unreasonable to expect her to continue to be employed. Collectively, the parties have put themselves in this position of her having currently lost her employment from the family business and not being able to just walk across the street and pick up another job paying her anywhere near that amount, at least until they get some things sorted out here.

For the full text of the decision, see:

Juma v. Juma, 2013 ONSC 904 http://canlii.ca/t/fw6gg

At Russell Alexander, Family Lawyers our focus is exclusively family law, offering pre-separation legal advice and assisting clients with family related issues including: custody and access, separation agreements, child and spousal support, division of family property, paternity disputes, and enforcement of court orders. For more information, visit us at www.RussellAlexander.com.

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