CORNWALL, BROCKVILLE, PRESCOTT-RUSSELL, OTTAWA & TORONTO FAMILY & CHILD PROTECTION LAWYERS
Why "No Fear" Family Law Advice is Important
We understand there may be no legal issues more fundamental to human wellbeing than those involving family law. Regardless of whether a separation is amicable or high conflict, timely and knowledgable legal advice is required to protect your rights and the material as well as emotional well being of family members.
We know that any time of family change can be fraught with anxiety because of fear of the unknown. Will I lose my children? Will I lose my house and other assets I've work so hard to acquire? Will my income be insufficient to support me and my family in the future? We offer "No Fear Family Law."
Why Legal Representation on Child Protection, Adoption & Guardianship Proceedings is Important
While families often start with an adult married or common law couple - either opposite sex or same sex - the children who commonly form a fundamental component of those families have their own legal needs beyond the relationship of the adults. Ontario provincial legislation through the Child and Family Services Act and Children's Law Reform Act creates a legal system to protect and foster the development of children both inside and outside family units.
Parents, grandparents, other persons can have rights under that system where legal representation is required. Child protection, adoption and guardianship can more quickly become a court-based process than family law in general, because of the supervisory jurisdiction given to courts over the best interests of children. We can advise you on all your options as a family member or other person involved in a child's life, and deal with a Children's Aid Society, Office of the Children's Lawyer, or Superior Court of Justice child-related proceedings for you.
What "No Fear" Family Law Means
1. Knowing All Possible Outcomes and Having No Need to Fear Them
What No Fear Family Law involves is talking through all the possible outcomes with you, so that you know both the worst case and best case scenarios. You might be surprised at how close those two cases actually are, that outcomes are not random, and that there are checks and balances inherent in the system to protect you from unreasonable outcomes.
Demystification of the law means coming to understand that although family law might at times seem full of mystery, it's actually very simple. Seriously. And that's not the case with all areas of the law.
Family Law at its core only has two elements: (1) property, and (2) children. All is variations are based on those two elements. What is a fair split of matrimonial property? How much property is required to support children? What living arrangement are in the best interests of the children? How long of a marriage should trigger what duration spousal support? Who pays taxes on child and spousal support?
Really "family" is about social contract. Once you've lived with a partner for a sufficient period of time, you're making a mutual contract of some support and property sharing (even if you don't know it at the time). Getting married elevates the level of the support and sharing contract. Having children also involves a contract of support between you and the children. Despite breakdowns in relationships, the law says that those implied support contracts should stay in place in modified ways, and that you can go to court to enforce the contracts if necessary.
2. Knowing You'll Have a Strong Ally in Your Family Lawyer
No Fear Family Law also involves you being guaranteed in the person of your family lawyer a strong, knowledgable ally throughout the process. It's contrary to professional ethics to use the word "aggressive" and really for many it's just an ineffective synonym for rude behaviour. Rather, we are firm, creative, and resolute in our support of you. Our experience of hundreds of successful trials and appeals throughout Canada up to the level of Court of Appeal for Ontario and the Supreme Court of Canada means that your lawyers will never be "out gunned" or intimidated by the other side.
Especially important to note is that we don't do "Collaborative Family Law" in the formal sense, and we rarely use "Mediators." We're not saying they can't works for some people, but we find that the factors which led to relationship breakdown often poison reasonable compromise when all parties are in the same room. Rather, we do "Negotiation" and litigation. We'll do everything we can to keep your matter out of court, and we find that many of our files can be completed without court proceedings. Our principal family law barrister Gordon Campbell served for many years as a professional negotiator, and is well versed in all techniques of the Harvard Model of interest-based negotiations.
Here is a Divorce Magazine article explaining "Collaborative Family Law: Possible Perils".
We work very collaboratively with others when it works in your best interests, and we fight for your rights when that will likely lead to a better outcome for you. We're always diplomatic, because crass rudeness never gets anyone what they want from someone else. But behind that diplomacy is strategic resolve and resources always working in your favour. We're working for you, and only you. Any lawyer that is either 100% compromising with no fight, or 100% fighting with no compromise, is guaranteed to fail in getting you what's best for you and working in the best interests of your children.
3. Knowing You'll Have Access to an Integrated Teams of Professionals
No Fear Family Law also provides you with access to our extensive referral networks of professionals. Because family law is more about facts than law, you may also need:
- a Chartered Professional Accountant (taxes can be a major unanticipated impact of family changes, but there may be ways to structure the charges to minimize taxes)
- a Psychologist or other Therapist (family changes can be very difficult not just for children but also for adults, and having someone to talk to about those changes may mean that you can make more rationale legal decisions that expedites resolution)
- a Real Estate Agent, a Mortgage Broker & an Insurance Agent (selling or buying property is a common outcome of family changes - though we'll do everything we can to ensure you keep your home if that is your plan)
Why Accessible & Approachable Family Law Lawyers are Important
We've heard the frustration of people going through family crises who can't get hold of their lawyers. Of lawyers who don't return phone calls. Of lawyers who are always out of the office, and where no staff is available to talk to you about your matter. Of lawyers who don't update their clients on progress.
We employ a combination of advanced technology, mobility, and an integrated legal team approach to provide you timely services that are responsive to your needs. Because we have a team of lawyers, law clerks, and other staff, there will usually be someone available to assist you with your matter. Because of our technology using a spectrum of electronic communications and record keeping, email, Skype, telephone, paper, and in-person communications you'll be kept informed of your matter's progress, and we'll readily take reasonable instructions from you.
We pride ourselves on our accessibility and approachability. We have three office locations, but also serve clients far beyond those office locations. We'll give you our fair and frank assessment at an early stage of working with you of your case prospects moving forward, and how to best obtain the optimal case result for you and your family.
Why Family Law Services at Predictable Fixed/Flat Fees Where Possible Are Important
We offer flat fee consultations to give you preliminary advice about your rights in family law, ongoing (both flat and hourly fee) advice, negotiations and drafting of family law legal documents like separation agreements and divorce applications, court representation and advocacy on family law motions and trials on an hourly basis, and family law appeals to the Divisional Court (for interlocutory orders) and the Court of Appeal (for final orders) on a flat fixed fee plus disbursements basis.
We understand that affordability of legal services can be an issue when you are in a family crises. We seek to at least offer you predictability, and an assessment of cost versus likely benefit of taking particular legal steps in your case.
Why Lawyers Who Can Offer a Full Range of Family Law Services Are Important
Our family law services include:
- Adoption & Guardianship
- Domestic & Marriage Contracts
- Child Protection
- Separation Agreements
- Divorce Applications
- Child and Spousal Support Applications
- Child Custody Applications
- Court Applications to Divide or Return Assets, including Partition and Sale Applications
What You Can Do to Maximize Success & Speed and Minimize Cost on Your Family Law Case
1. Gather all Documents
Family law cases are actually more based on facts and numbers than on law. Supporting documentation is the key. Original documents usually aren't necessary, just copies, scans or even legible photos.
Initial useful documents for all parties involved in a family law case include information on (a) income, (b) assets, (c) expenses, and (d) children:
- tax returns for last three years
- recent pay stubs or other proof of income
- other documents related to income, like investment statements, disability payments, pension payments, self-employment & business earnings
- title and mortgage documents for home ownership (usually provided by your real estate lawyer when you purchased a home)
- pension statements (these may require expert valuation)
- other documents related to assets owned like vehicle ownership and bank account statements
- credit card and bank account statements demonstrating expenses
- information on children, including schooling and activities
2. Organize all Documents
The more organized your documents, the less expensive it will be for your family lawyer to review them. Organizing documents by type, and then chronologically within each type, is usually the best method. Labelled file folders, tabbed binders, or sorted electronic files with descriptive name all can work. We'll work with whatever system and level of organization you can give us. Even if its a big mess in a box, we'll take it because it's still way better than no documents at all.
3. Write a Summary of History of Relationship
While we believe it's important for you to verbally describe the history of your relationship to us so that we can ask questions to clarify important details, first giving us a written out history of the relationship - organized by references to exact or approximate dates whenever possible - will likely give you the best financial value for our time and may also help you clarify that history in your own mind.
We may later need to turn that written history into an affidavit to be filed with a court, as ultimately litigation is as much about story telling to a judge as it is about legal argument.
4. Write a Summary of the Outcomes You Hope to Achieve
We find the clients who make the quickest progress with negotiations to settle their cases are the one who have given considerable thought to their desired best case outcomes. We encourage you to write them down in advance of first speaking with us. Don't worry about what is possible - it's our job to tell you that - rather just focus on what you want for your and your family.
That summary of hoped for outcomes will form the framework for any negotiation or litigation we undertake on your behalf. You may modify those hopes as time progresses, but at least they'll provide a starting point for what can be a lengthy process of resolution.
The "No Fear" Family Law Lawyers
Matthew MacLean practices as a family law solicitor assisting clients with the negotiation and drafting of fair and just separation agreements, domestic contracts, support and custody arrangements, as well as filing for divorce. He is a member of Legal Aid Ontario's Family Law panel.
Gordon S. Campbell practices as a family law barrister representing and defending the rights of clients before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Divisional Court and the Ontario Court of Appeal who are involved in litigious and unfortunately at times high conflict family law court proceedings. He also represents clients in child protection proceedings, and is a member of Legal Aid Ontario's Child and Family Services Act panel as well as Family Law Panel.
Karen Kernisant practices as a family law barrister & solicitor, and is the firm's practice leader for family legal aid files. She also leads the firm's bilingual family litigation practice in French, holding a degree in translation from the Université de Montréal, though all the firm's family lawyers practice in both French and English.
The "No Fear Family" Law Dedicated Website
The firm maintains a website devoted exclusively to family law at www.nofearfamilylaw.com where you'll find more detailed information including blog posts about the family law services the firm offers, and the current state of the law.