Family Law

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Spousal Support

Married couples, common law couples who have cohabited for 3 years, or common law couples who have had a child together may have spousal support rights or obligations on separation, and also in some cases, on death. Usually, spousal support is an amount of money paid monthly for a period of time. The amount of money and how long it has to be paid depend on the circumstances of the relationship. In many cases, we negotiate a lump sum payment as a full and final settlement of any spousal support entitlement.

There are advisory Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines that provide some guidance to spouses, lawyers and judges at determining the appropriate amount and duration of spousal support. For more information, see

Because the area of spousal support depends considerably on individual cases, this can be a very difficult area to advise clients. We have resolved many cases of spousal support either through negotiation, mediation or litigation. We can assist you in this difficult legal area on all aspects whether you are seeking spousal support or whether your spouse wants spousal support from you.

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Child Support


All parents have a legal responsibility to support their dependent children to the extent that they can. The parent with custody is entitled to child support even if they remarry or start to live with someone else.  The amount of child support is usually set according to the Child Support Guidelines. In almost all cases, the court must use the Guidelines to set the amount.

Parents who reach an out-of-court agreement about support do not have to apply the Guidelines.  You can obtain information on child support and the Guidelines at:

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Property Division


Married couples in Ontario are subject to the Family Law Act, Part I of which deals with the division of property. The philosophy of the Family Law Act is that, subject to certain exceptions, any financial growth during the marriage is to be shared equally by both spouses. Accordingly, upon separation or death, a calculation is done separately for each spouse to determine the growth in the value of that spouse’s assets during the marriage (called “net family property”) and a payment is then made by one party to the other (called “an equalization payment”). Under the Family Law Act, there is no actual sharing of property and each party is entitled to retain whatever property they own, subject to the requirement that at the end of the day one spouse may have to make a cash payment to the other spouse.

In order to do the calculation, each party prepares a statement of his or her assets and debts at the date of marriage and at the date of separation or death. The value of the net assets at the date of marriage is deducted from the value of the net assets at the date of separation or death.

The exceptions mentioned above relate primarily to matrimonial homes and inheritances and gifts. A matrimonial home is a home in which you are both residing at the date of separation or death. It is usually impossible to tell at the date of marriage whether a particular home will be a matrimonial home or not, since you cannot predict separation or death and do not know where you will be residing at that time.

If you are living in the same home at the date of marriage as at the date of separation or death, the value of the home at the date of marriage cannot be deducted from the value of the net assets at the date of separation or death. In effect, the entire net value of the home is shared equally between the spouses.

Secondly, any gift or inheritance received by a spouse after the date of marriage is not to be included in that spouse’s net family property. Nor will any growth from the gift or inheritance be included. However, any income derived from the gift or inheritance will be included in the calculation unless the donor of the gift expressly states otherwise.

If the gift or inheritance is used to purchase a matrimonial home (even a cottage or a ski chalet can be a matrimonial home if used by the spouses at the time of separation or death) or to increase the equity in such a home, it loses its protection.

The above information is an explanation of how the Family Law Act applies in the absence of an agreement.


The Family Law Act does not apply to cohabiting couples who are unmarried. Cohabiting couples generally divide their property on separation in accordance with ownership. However, where one party has contributed financially or otherwise to property owned by the other, the contributing party may be able to seek compensation or an interest based upon equitable principles. Whether or not a cohabiting spouse has a claim to property of the other spouse, depends on the particular circumstances. This is called a claim based upon unjust enrichment.

Family Law Related Links

Alternatives To Court

Print Resources

Women & Domestic Violence

Legal decisions across Canada at all
levels of court are recorded on this site.

The Law

Legal decisions across Canada at all levels of
court are recorded on this site.

This site allows you to make simple calculations
under the Child Support Guidelines and Spousal
Support Advisory Guidelines.

Tools & Calendars

These websites enable parents to coordinate and
plan their children's schedules. Our family Wizard
is user friendly. The site assists families is
and is particularly good for high-conflict families.
because content is stored and even lawyers can
access the information without it being changed or

Community Organizations

Family Service Association

Jewish Child & Family Services

Catholic Families Services

Canadian Bar Association

Association of Family and Concilliation Courts