Legal Services

Marriage Agreement (Pre-Nuptial)

Secure Your Assets with a Pre-Nuptial Agreement (Legally known as a Marriage Agreement)

Not all couples begin their lives together with equal asset wealth.  If you are considering marriage or cohabitation and this is a concern for you, consider contacting a family law lawyer.  A Pre-Nuptial / Marriage Agreement is designed to secure your rights in the unfortunate event of a breakdown in your relationship. Lessing Brandon is able to assist you in understanding and planning for your future financial well-being, including the preparation of a Pre-Nuptial /Marriage Agreement, and a Will made in contemplation of marriage. 

 Sometimes, however, what was fair at the outset ceases to be fair in the face of life’s events.  The experienced lawyers at Lessing Brandon have repeatedly succeeded in overturning unfair Pre-Nuptial/ Marriage Agreements, resulting in a much greater division of assets than the Agreement provided. Our litigation experience has informed how we will craft a solid Agreement for you at the outset of your relationship.  We will protect your interests.

Parental Alienation

Though every child should receive the full benefit of two capable, loving parents, a competitive situation can arise during divorce wherein one parent succeeds in vilifying the other to the extent which meets the threshold of Parental Alienation: the child no longer wants to be with you, the alienated parent.

If your child is:

  •     hearing the private details of the marriage breakdown,
  •     being regularly tempted by special activities scheduled to interfere with your parenting time,
  •     forbidden to bring belongings with them between homes,
  •     being made to feel guilty for enjoying time with you,

then a competitive parental dynamic has developed which needs to be addressed. Ongoing Parental Alienation has been known to erode the parent-child relationship beyond repair. Lessing Brandon can seek court-ordered help for your children. The court may suspend your spouse’s parenting time while the children receive the intensive counseling they need to re-build a balanced, loving relationship with both parents.

More information about parental alienation click here

Divorce & Marital Dissolution

During separation, couples usually try to come up with an agreement which will address the following main issues:

  • Custody (often known as Guardianship)
  • Access (often known as Parenting Time)
  • Child Support
  • Parenting Responsibilities regarding education, physical and mental health, extracurricular activities and expenses
  • Division of Property including the marital home, other real estate, business assets, pensions and all other assets
  • Spousal support, also known as Alimony

Now that the marriage is over, a separation agreement is the binding contract that will set out how you should deal with each other. Most couples try to draft an agreement through negotiation or through a lawyer. For those who are able to follow such an agreement, at the end of the separation these couples are usually granted an uncontested divorce.

However, if the divorce is contested, if negotiation has not resulted in an agreement, or if one or both parties have been unable to adhere to the agreement, then all contested matters will need to be decided in court.

Having your case heard in court may be necessary when domestic violence is a barrier to fair negotiation, or when one or both parties are too firmly entrenched in their position to be able to compromise. Even though the court process is quite arduous and expensive, sometimes it is necessary. Custody/Guardianship disputes are particularly stressful for all concerned, but there are times when a judge, after hearing all the details of the case, must be the final arbiter of justice.  And, although most clients settle partway through the process and few cases actually go to trial, the lawyers at Lessing Brandon are excellent litigators who can walk with you through the entire process, with dignity. They will apply the law with precision to your unique situation to build the case that will be to your best advantage.

Settlement Negotiations

Family litigation is rarely a win-lose event.  Negotiating a settlement with your spouse can sometimes be your wisest course of action.  While the lawyers at Lessing Brandon are all highly capable litigators, achieving an advantageous agreement out-of-court is our first priority. We are committed to guiding our clients to avoid the stress and expense of a protracted court battle.

Settlement proposals can be made at any time and opportunities for settlement are built into the litigation process.  If you are looking to settle out of court, Lessing Brandon will negotiate on your behalf to ensure you are protected. We will achieve the best possible outcome.

Uncontested Divorce Orders

Sometimes couples have already come to an agreement with respect to the children, the division of their assets and debts, and arrangements for maintenance.  The only legal issue remaining is to obtain a divorce.  If you believe your spouse will not oppose your divorce application then this is a relatively inexpensive -but deceptively tricky- endeavour.  Let the lawyers at Lessing Brandon walk you through the entire process, from drafting the Notice of Family Claim, to preparing the final order and supporting materials for the court.  We’re here to help.

Separation Agreements (Legal Separation)

Never make important legal decisions without consulting experienced legal counsel – even the best lawyer hires a lawyer to negotiate and draft a legal contract. This is because it is impossible to make an objective judgement about one’s own life. At Lessing Brandon we frequently see the client who, in an effort to avoid expense,  or to make a graceful exit, has signed a contract they have written themselves and are now deeply regretting. The expense and the angst of undoing a bad agreement can be profound. You might jeopardize your mobility, your time with your children, and your financial well-being far into the future by attempting to navigate this bit of legal terrain on your own. Our experienced team of lawyers specialize in crafting fair and binding agreements with your best interest in mind.

Lessing Brandon has liberated dozens of people and unshackled them from shoddy and unfair separation agreements. If you are now dealing with the unintended consequences of having signed such a contract, let us help you out of it.

 

Restraining Orders- Protection from Family Violence

The deterioration of a relationship can bring out the worst in people. Tempers flair and arguments can escalate to violence.  Even when police get called, it is not uncommon for them to be reluctant to intervene, often referring the complaining spouse to the family court system. In these urgent and frightening circumstances Lessing Brandon can help. Whether you or your children have been victims of family violence, or if you believe family violence is likely to occur (either directly or indirectly), let our experienced lawyers work quickly within the legal system to get you the security you deserve.

Access (Visitation)

Access is the time spent with a child by a person who is not a “deemed guardian” such as a grandparent, or non-guardian parent.   If you are a non-guardian parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle you may apply and be granted access if it can be shown to be in the best interest of the child.  Access is also known as contact or visitation. Lessing Brandon works hard to ensure fair access.

Custody and Parenting Arrangements

Custody refers to a concept under the Federal Divorce Act which includes the parental responsibility to provide for the child’s necessities of life.  If sole custody is granted, the child will reside with one parent who will provide daily care. In cases of shared custody, a wider variety of arrangements can exist.   Lessing Brandon focuses on negotiating an arrangement that will best serve the interest of the client’s relationship with their child.

Child Support

What are your obligations?

While most people are familiar with the concept of “child support”, the intricacies and details can be elusive. Child support is typically determined by Federal Child Support Guidelines. Courts are loathe to permit couples to divorce unless children are being supported in compliance with these Guidelines.  Of course, exceptions can be made, and Lessing Brandon can assist.

While many people believe a parent’s child support obligation terminates once the child turns 19, this is not necessarily true.   Whether the court will continue to require child support to be paid will depend on the parties’ means and the child’s potential for independence. We understand how to tip the balance in your favour when it comes to this issue.

Determining income for child support purposes can also be a hornet’s nest.  Under-employed spouses may need to have income “imputed” to them.  Spouses who are self employed may divert income through complicated -but often legal- tax deductions that present difficulties for determining their income for child support purposes. We regularly address this situation with great success so let us apply our breadth of experience to protecting your -and your children’s- financial interests.

Parents who share parenting time on an approximately equal basis usually pay child support based on their respective incomes. This results in a “set-off” payment by the higher income-earning spouse to the lower-income earning spouse.  But not always.  Our lawyers are happy to give you advice on this matter as well.

Spousal Support (Alimony)

Spousal Support, also known as alimony or maintenance, is money paid by one spouse to the other after a separation or divorce. There are many factors that determine whether a married or common-law spouse is entitled to spousal support and how much support they should receive.

These factors are established by the Canadian Federal Government which publishes the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines. Spousal support is not necessary for all separation and divorce cases. In most cases spousal support is intended to be a temporary measure to assist the lower income earning spouse to get back on their feet.

Some factors in establishing spousal support include:

  • Age of both relational partners
  • Earning power and earning potential
  • Division of property, particularly if one spouse has ended up with the marital home or significant assets
  • sacrificing a career to further the other spouse’s career to raise children
  • The history of the marriage
  • Support through schooling
  • Ill health