Our Practices

Kitchener-Waterloo Litigation & Family Law

Case Law

Judge-made law and legal decisions from previous cases that form precedents for future cases. Depending on what level of court, case law can be binding or just persuasive.

Court

A place where justice is administered.

Court of Appeal for Ontario

The highest court in the province. It hears appeals from lower Ontario courts. Decisions of the Court of Appeal may be further appealed on a question of law to the Supreme Court of Canada, if the Supreme Court agrees. In criminal matters, a person who is convicted of an indictable offence may also appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada as of right on any question of law on which a judge of the Court of Appeal dissents.

Divisional Court

The Divisional Court is a branch of the Superior Court of Justice. The court hears appeals and reviews of decisions by government agencies, tribunals and boards, as well as some appeals.

Family Court

The Family Court is a branch of the Superior Court of Justice. It hears all family cases. Where the Family Court does not exist, jurisdiction over family matters is divided between the Superior Court of Justice and the Ontario Court of Justice.

Ontario Court of Justice

This court hears criminal and Provincial Offences Act prosecutions, Provincial Offences Act appeals, and, in areas where the Family Court branch of the Superior Court of Justice does not exist, the court also hears family cases other than cases that contain claims for divorce or division of property.

Small Claims Court

The Small Claims Court is a branch of the Superior Court of Justice. The court hears civil actions for claims up to $25,000.

Superior Court of Justice

The Superior Court of Justice hears criminal prosecutions of indictable offences, summary conviction appeals, bail reviews, estates, civil suits (over $25,000), and, where the Family Court branch of the Superior Court of Justice does not exist, the court also hears family cases other than child protection, secure treatment, adoption cases and appeals of child protection cases.

Supreme Court of Canada

The Supreme Court of Canada is Canada's final court of appeal. It hears appeals from provincial and territorial courts of appeal and from the Federal Court of Appeal.

Custody

In family law cases, this describes the arrangement made for the care of children when parents separate or children are found in need of protection. Different types of child custody arrangements include:

Joint Custody

The children live primarily with one parent and the other parent spends regular time with the children. However, the parents jointly make decisions about the children.

Shared Custody

Where both parents are involved in decision-making about the children and share in their on-going care. According to the Child Support Guidelines, shared custody is where the children live at least 40% of the time with each parent.

Sole Custody

The children live with one parent, and that parent has the right and responsibility to make major decisions about the child's care, education, religious instruction and welfare. The other parent usually has access to the child.

Split Custody

When the parents have more than one child together and each parent has custody of one or more of those children.

Matrimonial Law

Access

In family law cases, the right to spend time with the children on a regular basis and to receive information on the children's health, education, and well-being.

Adoption

The process in which a person, usually a child, becomes a legal member of a new family. Once an adoption is finalized, the person becomes the legal child of the adoptive parent(s) and the parental rights of the biological parent(s) are terminated.

Child Protection Case

A case in which a party, generally a children's aid society, files an application under the Child and Family Services Act, seeking a finding by the court that a child is in need of protection and an order concerning how the child is to be protected in the future.

Child Support Guidelines

Rules and tables calculating the amount of child support that should be paid to the parent with whom the children reside based on the payor's income, number of children, and the province or territory of residence. Exceptions to the guidelines allow a court to order different amounts in particular cases.

Cohabitation Agreement

Agreement by two people who are or will be cohabiting and who are not married to each other about their respective rights and obligations during cohabitation, or when they separate or die.

Collaborative Family Law

A process where the parties and lawyers formally agree to negotiate a resolution of the issues in dispute through a series of meetings, without going to court.

Division of Property

In family law cases, the division of assets and liabilities between parties after separation or death. For married parties, property is divided by equalizing the net family property of the parties.

Divorce

The legal ending of a marriage by a court order.

Equalization Payment

In family law cases, a payment from one married spouse to the other to ensure that both parties receive an equal share of the net family property they accumulated during their marriage.

Marriage Contract

A contract entered into by two persons who are married to each other, or who intend to marry each other, in which they agree on their respective rights and obligations during the marriage, or in case of separation, divorce, annulment or death.

Mediation

A process where a neutral third party (mediator), selected by the disputing parties, assists parties to reach agreement on issues in dispute.

Paternity Agreement

Agreement by parents who are not spouses about the support of their child.

Separation Agreement

Agreement by two people, who cohabited and have separated, on their respective rights and obligations.

Notary Public & Commissioner

A person with legal authority to prepare and verify specific legal documents. A notary need not be a lawyer, and not all lawyers are notaries. A commissioner is a person authorized to administer oaths and affirmations and before whom affidavits, declarations and affirmations may be made.

Support

Monetary assistance that a person provides for his or her dependant(s).

Child Support

The amount a parent pays, usually to the other parent, for the financial support of a child under a court order or agreement.

Spousal Support

Money paid by one spouse to another after separation to contribute to the other spouse's living expenses.

Wills & Estates

Directions made in legal form where a person instructs how his or her estate should be administered and distributed after death. It takes effect upon a person's death. The Estate is the property that a person owns or has a legal interest in. Estate is often used to describe the property after the person's death.

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