Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How Long Does a Divorce Take?
A: The length of time it takes for a divorce to be finished depends on the exact circumstances. For example, an uncontested divorce is generally much faster than a contested divorce. An uncontested divorce may only need the time it takes from filing the divorce to the judge signing the divorce decree plus the 31 days it takes for the decree to be in effect. A contested divorce – especially one with complex property division or a custody dispute could take months to be settled. In rare cases, divorces can last years.
Q. What Is the Difference Between Sole and Joint Custody?
A: Sole custody and joint custody are the two main options when people talk about child custody orders. This generally refers to decision-making capacity. When a judge grants sole legal custody, it means that only one parent has sole decision-making responsibilities for the children. For example, if the parents disagreed about whether the children would attend private or public school, the custodial parent would get to have the final say. In a joint custody arrangement, the parents generally have equal decision-making power, and if they can’t come to an agreement on an important issue, they may have to go before the courts to have the matter decided.
Q: Is It Possible to Get Sole Custody?
A: In recent years, the courts have favored joint custody. This is because the courts recognize that children benefit from a healthy, stable, and active relationship with both parents. However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to get the courts to award sole custody. The courts may award sole custody if both parents agree that it is the best option for the children. One parent can also petition the courts for sole custody, but they will need to show why sole custody would serve the best interests of the children more than a joint custody agreement.
Q: Can I Get Spousal Support?
A: It is possible to get spousal support in Ontario if you meet one of the three requirements. You either have to have been married, have to have been living together in a serious relationship for at least three years, or you have to have had a child together. How long you get spousal support depends on how long the relationship lasted. The general guidelines are 6-12 months of spousal support for every year the relationship lasted. How much support you may be entitled to depends on several factors, including the income of both parties, the circumstances of the relationship, and how many children are involved.
Q: What Do Family Lawyers Do?
A: Family lawyers handle all aspects of family law. This includes matters involving divorce, child custody, child support, spousal support, property division, child protection, enforcement of court orders, adoption, paternity, father’s rights, and grandparent’s rights cases. Family lawyers provide counsel on specific legal situations, create and file paperwork, and represent you through the family court process. A family law lawyer may help facilitate mediation agreements between two parties, but they can also handle trial proceedings, which can include everything from gathering evidence to questioning witnesses. These lawyers may also work in family and fertility law and specific family law issues pertaining to the gay and lesbian community.
Q: How Do I Find Good Family Lawyers?
A: It’s important to have an experienced family lawyer by your side as you navigate the family courts, but finding one isn’t always easy. Many people start by asking friends and family for recommendations. If you know someone who went through a similar case and was happy with their representation and outcome, it can be a good idea to let that narrow your search pool. Once you have a few names, you can request a consultation to talk to the family lawyer about your case and how they may be able to help you. This is the time to ask questions about what kind of cases the law firm handles and its success rates, but keep in mind that every situation is different, and nothing is guaranteed in the family court system. Some lawyers may also be members of the Law Society of Ontario as well as the Ontario Bar Association.
Q: My Ex Has a Lawyer. What Should I Do?
A: If you find out that your ex has retained a lawyer and is planning on filing in the family courts, it’s important to act quickly. Legal battles over property or children can get strained quickly — even if it seems like everything is going to be agreed upon from the beginning. It’s always important to have legal representation when you go through the court system because you need someone who is looking out for your rights and your rights alone. When you retain a lawyer, you can let them know that your ex already has counsel so that they can start establishing communication and working toward the resolution of the case.
Q: What Do I Need to Know Before Going Into the Family Courts?
A: The most important thing to know before you enter the family court system is that nothing is a sure thing. While an lawyer can represent you and fight for your rights, every situation is different, and decisions often come down to one judge. It’s important to have accurate expectations going into the process as far as the length of time as well. Many people go into divorce thinking that it will be a quick process, but it’s common for even seemingly easy divorces to turn complex as time goes on.