in Property Issues

Forcing the Sale of the Matrimonial Home

iStock_000004886744_LargeOne of the key assets in any marriage is the matrimonial home. It is where the spouses have lived together and often raised their family; it can be full of both good and bad memories, and for some spouses it can have an emotional value to them way out of accord with its actual monetary value. This can lead, in turn, to spouses refusing to list and sell jointly owned matrimonial homes or refusing to agree to sell their half or buy the other spouses half of the house from the other, often because they emotionally can’t give it up. Spouses can attempt to hold on to the matrimonial home, but unfortunately for them, when the matrimonial home is jointly owned legislation provides the courts in Ontario with a means to force the listing and sale of the matrimonial home.
In situations where the matrimonial home is owned jointly, it must be remembered that both spouses have a right to possess it both during marriage as well as after separation, and neither spouse has to sell their half of the ownership. Spouses do not have a right of first refusal to purchase the matrimonial home from the other where it is jointly owned. In fact, in Ontario the Partition Act provides the courts with the power to force the sale of a jointly owned matrimonial home, if the parties can not come to an agreement on the one buying the other out. Spouses are entitled to list the matrimonial home on the market in an effort to receive the highest sales price for it, and are not required to accept less than the price that the market will bear from their spouse.
It must be remembered that the Partition Act is only available in situations of joint ownership. Where the title to the matrimonial home is in the name of only one of the spouses, then the Partition Act does not apply. This does not mean that the other spouse has no claim against the matrimonial home. The non-titled spouse still has a claim to the equity from the property through the equalization process provided for under the Family Law Act, and may have equitable trust claims against it as well. However, title counts, and in this case, the non-titled spouse can not force the titled spouse to sell the matrimonial home, or limit the ability of the titled spouse to keep it, sell it, refinance it or even make a gift of it.
For spouses who jointly own the matrimonial home, it is very important that they think long and hard and early in the process as to whether they can reasonably can afford to buy their spouse out of the matrimonial home, carry the costs of that purchase and the regular monthly costs, or whether it would be best for them instead, to sell out their interest to their spouse, or agree to list the matrimonial home for sale as quickly as possible and attempt to get the highest price. While the matrimonial home may be full of memories, it must be remembered that the courts will focus only on the real property value of the matrimonial home and the right of the other spouse to maximize their return from it; it will put no stock in the value of emotions, and will be unmoved by such concerns. As well, it should be remembered that if a spouse should seek to buy out the interest of the other in the matrimonial home, then in a sense, they have made it a valuable hostage to be exploited by the other spouse, who might seek to gain concessions in return for agreeing to sell the house to the spouse who wants it. The spouse who wants it might say it is worth it, and may give a number of reasons, such as wanting to keep the children in the neighbourhood that they have grown up in; and at a basic human level, those are good reasons. But that spouse should not be surprised when their desire to keep the house is seen as an advantage to the other spouse to be exploited.


Written by Mervyn White. A family law lawyer at Galbraith Family Law. To see Merv’s bio click here. If you wish to book a consultation with Mervyn please go to our website.



in Collaborative Practice, Process Choices

A Better Way to Separate

There is a movement afoot.

Many of the professionals involved in helping families through separation are trying to help steer people away from long, drawn-out and costly court battles. There is talk of the concept of ‘separating together’. There is the supposed oxymoron of the ‘peacemaking lawyer.’ There is the idea of achieving something better out of a painful situation. Collectively, people are recognizing the value of lower conflict, common sense, cost-efficient separation and family conflict solutions.
One of the manifestations of this movement is the newly-created Family Dispute Resolution Institute of Ontario. This organization was founded to bring various professionals involved in supporting people through separation, including family or mental health professionals, financial specialists and business valuators, mediators, arbitrators, collaborative professionals, lawyers, counsellors and divorce coaches under one umbrella organization. The purpose of the organization is to help Ontarians find better ways to resolve the issues involved with separation, divorce and family disputes. These ways focus on out-of-court settlements.
Taken from an FDRIO letter to its members: “Along with being less adversarial and often less damaging to parents and their children, these other means of dispute resolution can address problems such as addictions, mental health, safety and family violence that traditional litigation processes often do not.”
Many municipalities across Ontario are proclaiming November 23 – 27 “FDR Week”, and are holding one or more public forums on November 24, 2015, open to the public and free of charge. Shortly, we will be releasing more information about an event being planned for Orillia. Also, check out our website for more information about out-of-court process options for finalizing a separation at

Written by Toni Nieuwhof, a lawyer at Galbraith Family law. Here is a link to Toni’s profile. To book a consultation with Toni, please go our website.

in Children, Custody and Access, Co-parenting, Divorce, Emotional Journey

6-year-Old Explains Everything You Need to Know About Divorce

When a group of relationship counselors was polled to determine what the leading cause of divorce was, 74% of them agreed that the biggest predictor was differing opinions on things like money or raising children. These are issues that have to be hammered out in a divorce, so if you struggled to get along with your spouse during marriage, divorce can turn the simmering debate into an all-out war. Assets have to be divided, and co-parenting arrangements must be made, but don’t allow the process to make you lose sight of what’s really important.

A Minor Skirmish Between Parents is a Battle in a Child’s Eyes

A little girl’s video for her parents has just gone viral. According to Tiana’s mother, her parents are already divorced and are co-parenting the six-year-old. Tiana’s mom went out to badminton one day, and left Tiana in the care of her father. Upon her return, Tiana’s mom discovered that one of her shelving units in the garage had fallen apart, leaving more than 50 pairs of shoes scattered about. Her dad came outside and ranted a bit about how the units were garbage, and Tiana’s mom tells him to go away if he isn’t going to help. It sounds like the type of mild disagreement many parents have, and the girl’s mom said on her Facebook page that it wasn’t even an actual argument. To little Tiana, though, it was a fight, and it upset her to see her parents treat each other poorly.

Tiana’s Viral Video Tells Parents How to Handle Divorce

“I’m not trying to be mean. I just want everyone to be friends,” Tiana says near the start of the video. “And if I can be nice, I think all of us can be nice, too.” Her wishes echo what experts advise of co-parents today. It’s important for parents to avoid having any tumultuous discussions in front of their children, even if the parents don’t believe it’s an actual argument. Children often believe the problem is much worse than it is, and they routinely blame themselves for it. In this case, the discussion didn’t involve Tiana, though had it been her toys that fell, rather than shoes, it would be easy to see how a child could fault herself.

A Calm, Business-Like Relationship is Necessary for Co-Parenting

In the video, Tiana goes on to explain how she wants everyone to smile, and that she wants “everything to settle down.” She asks her parents to do their best, and says, “I want you to settle your mean heights down a little to little short heights.” All too often, parents continue to hold anger towards a former spouse, for what they should have done, or over ways they have been wronged. Although it’s difficult, experts agree that it’s imperative that parents set these feelings aside. The divorce is done, and the relationship is over. While divorced parents may never be friends, a business-like relationship can be formed. This enables the former couple to check their emotions, and handle ongoing responsibilities as if coworkers.

Meet Some Parents who Got it Right
coupleInterestingly, “divorce selfies” seem to be on the rise. One particular former couple snapped their photo outside the local courthouse, just after filing. Shannon Neuman posted the image with a note to her Facebook page, though she probably wasn’t expecting the massive response she received. “We have respectfully, thoughtfully and honourably ended our marriage in a way that will allow us to go forward as parenting partners for our children,” she wrote. She then went on to explain that they’ve decided to co-parent as positively as possible, so their children never feel like they have to choose. She adds, “It’s possible to love your kids more than you hate/distrust/dislike your ex,” which is certainly a message that deserves to be relayed.
That’s not to say that Tiana’s parents have failed, or are causing long-term damage. It’s ok for kids to see disagreements, and it’s healthy for them to see how they can be worked out peacefully. However, discussions about the divorce or parenting should never occur around them, and parents should do their best (as Tiana would say) to be friendly to each other. While the relationship may be over, you will always have your former partner as a co-parent, and your child loves him or her as much as he loves you. Be mindful of your words and actions.

Written by Robert Widner, a Divorce Lawyer in Dallas Texas

in Divorce, Legal, Separation Agreements

Necessary Steps Relating to Separation

Written by Alexander Beadie.

Many people come to our offices to learn the steps involved in separation.  Practically speaking, there are necessary steps to take if you wish to document the terms of your separation from your spouse as part of a divorce.

In order to record the terms and conditions governing your separation with your spouse, it will be necessary for you both to sign a Separation Agreement.  To arrive at an agreement regarding the division of property, arrangements relating to custody, access, the calculation of child support, or spousal support, or all of these things combined, it will first be necessary to complete a sworn financial statement.  The financial statement will include reference to your T4 filings with the Canada Revenue Agency for the past three years.  Also required will be the last three years’  Notices of Assessment together with pay stubs (if applicable) supporting your reported income. We also need proof of the value of all assets and proof of your debts.

Once your Financial Statement is complete, we will give this information to your spouse (or their legal representative) in exchange for the same information provided from your spouse.

This information is then used to complete a Net Family Property Statement for both of you.  Finally, and based on these records, an equalization of the assets, debts and liabilities from the marriage is made through a payment by one spouse to the other.  This ensures that both spouses equally share the increase in wealth during the marriage.

These initial steps must be completed so that arrangements regarding custody, access, child support and spousal support, where applicable, can be made fairly and in a legally binding manner.


At Galbraith Family Law, we have a staff of both law clerks and lawyers who are trained in helping you comply with these obligations in a cost effective and timely way.  Put our experience to work for you.

Written by Alexander Beadie, a lawyer at Galbraith Family Law. Here is a link to Alexander’s profile. To book a consultation with Alexander, please go to our website.


in Co-parenting

How to use social media safely: Foster your relationship with your children after a divorce

Written by Hilary Smith

Divorces are hard. We don’t mean that in just the legal sense, either – for reasons entirely outside of their control, children involved with divorce cases often find themselves separated from someone they love and want to be with, and that’s not easy at their age.   Over the last few years, though, social media has advanced to the point where it’s a viable way of staying in touch with your children after a divorce. Let’s take a look at how you can do this.   Selecting a Social Network   First off, which network do you actually want to connect on? For most families, the answer is usually Facebook – more than half of all adult Americans are on it, and an even higher percentage of teens have connected, which makes it the easiest option for most groups.   If you have one or more young girls in the family, you may want to consider Instagram or Snapchat instead. Girls tend to prefer visual platforms, and if you’ve already started taking pictures of your life and uploading them to your social media, this is a good way of adding the content.   Under no circumstances should you decide this all on your own, though – instead, talk to the child and ask them which network they’d like to connect with you on. Try to respect their wishes in this regard, then show them how to take control of the network they choose and set things up so “family” and “friend” conversations are properly separated.   What To Talk About   Once you’re both connected to a social network, it’s time to start making good use of them. At this point, try to be proactive – respond to the things your child posts and add comments asking them to elaborate. For example, if they post a picture of a meal they had at a restaurant, ask them what kinds of foods they’ve been enjoying and whether or not they’d like you to make a certain sort of meal next time they come to visit.   On your end, though, try to be careful about what you post. If you come across as too happy, you could make your child feel like they’re missing out on a better life – and that’s not good for their mental development if you weren’t the one given custody. Focus on content that’s fun, but not so fun it makes them want to leave their current home.   If you’re splitting custody, though, try sharing content that’s relevant to the child. For example, you could have a picture of an exciting activity like river rafting and add a comment to your child mentioning how you’d like to do that with them next time they come over. Once a child is involved with a topic, it’s much easier to post and share things.   Essentially, think about the child when you’re posting to social media.   Things To Avoid   As useful as social networks are, though, there are a few important caveats to keep in mind.   First, many networks want to share content as widely as possible. Unless you’re very careful about managing your privacy settings, you could end up sending your family’s private conversations to the whole world.   Children – and especially teenagers – are often very sensitive about the way they’re perceived, and they may be embarrassed to admit that their parents got divorced. Try to avoid posting anything that you’re not comfortable with complete strangers knowing, and use other means of communication – like phone calls – for sensitive topics.   You should also encourage the child to focus on their offline life. If they think that the digital world is the only place they need a relationship – which is quite possible if that’s how they’re connecting with you – they could easily find themselves trapped by screen addiction. We want to avoid this, and having a time when social media gets turned off is a great place to start.     Disclaimer: This post is not intended as legal advice of any kind and should not be treated as such. If you are planning a divorce and wish for legal advice or support, contact Galbraith Family Law.  

in Matrimonial Home

How can I afford to stay in my home after separation or divorce?

Written By Darren Robinson

The impact of separation or divorce on a family is long reaching; not only does it stir emotions from all involved, it can also take a devastating toll on personal finances.  The separation of assets is usually an important step in this procedure.  In many cases homeowners feel their only way to move on is to sell their home & separate the equity they’ve built, but there is another little known 2nd option. 

Over the last few years the government has made it more difficult to pull equity out of a home through refinancing.  Current mortgage rules only allow a homeowner to pull up to 80% of the equity from their property.  This can make it difficult to divide equity between spouses without a sale.  This decision must be made very carefully, when children are involved pulling up roots is likely not in their best interest.  Now lenders are able to offer a spousal breakup program that can allow one spouse to stay in the home & withdrawal up to 95% of the equity.  Not to mention the savings by avoiding real estate fees.

To pull this equity out there must be a signed separation agreement in place outlining how the money is to be paid out.  This will allow the underwriter to have full visibility of any alimony or child support payments, as the payments would need to be calculated into the debt calculation requirements.  The lender is only allowed to payout matrimonial debts listed in the separation agreement and any penalties/discharge fees associated with the existing mortgage.  Direct payouts to the leaving spouse are not permitted.

One of the other challenges faced is affordability, it can sometimes be difficult for one spouse to qualify for the new mortgage on their own.  In this case the lender will allow you to add a co-borrower/co-signer (must be a direct relative) to the application in order to better support the lender’s income requirements.  This individual must have good credit and disposable income beyond their own monthly financial obligations.  This person must also understand that they would be required to take over the mortgage if the loan goes into default.

Even though this looks like a refinance transaction the lender will require a purchase agreement between the spouses be drawn up & signed.  This allows the lawyer’s involved to easily remove the one spouse from the title of the property.

If you or someone you know is facing the challenge of separation it is always best to contact a Mortgage Broker for a free consultation.  They will be able determine your best mortgage options by working through the various scenarios and help you make the best financial decision available.

If you live in the Barrie, Ontario area I’d be happy to set an appointment at my office 99 Bayfield Street to discuss your options and detail a plan to move forward.  You can call me at (705) 737-6161, (888) 737-6162 or by email  Alternatively you can find more information about mortgage financing at

in Child Support, Children's rights, Collaborative Practice, Divorce, Rainbows, Signs of Divorce

A Parents’ Guide to Children and Divorce



A Parents’ Guide to Children and Divorce

Divorce is one of the most traumatic experiences a person can go through, whether they’re a spouse or a child of divorcing parents. Let’s look at some of the facts behind divorce and its effects on children, including how parents can help ensure their children are well-adjusted despite the divorce.

How Common Is Divorce

We’ve all heard the statistic that 50% of marriages end in divorce, but is that really true? That depends largely on when the marriage began — people married after about 1990 have a much higher chance of still being married.

Percentage of divorced couples, by decade of marriage (1)

1960s: 38%
1970s: 45%
1980s: 48%
1990s: 34%
2000s: 14%

The likelihood of divorce also varies by where you live.

States by divorce rate (divorces per 1,000 people) (2)

Alaska: 14
Alabama: 13
Arkansas: 13
Kentucky: 13
Oklahoma: 13
Nevada: 12
Maine: 11
Georgia: 11
Tennessee: 11
Mississippi: 11
Texas: 11
Arizona: 11
West Virginia: 11
Missouri: 10
Montana: 10
Washington: 10
New Mexico: 10
North Carolina: 10
Vermont: 10
Oregon: 10
Wyoming: 10
Indiana: 10
Colorado: 10
Iowa: 10
Kansas: 10
Louisiana: 10
Utah: 10
Rhode Island: 9
Ohio: 9
Virginia: 9
Florida: 9
South Dakota: 9
New Hampshire: 9
Nebraska: 9
Michigan: 9
South Carolina: 8
Delaware: 8
Idaho: 8
Hawaii: 8
North Dakota: 8
Illinois: 8
California: 8
Maryland: 8
Connecticut: 8
Wisconsin: 7
District of Columbia: 7
Massachusetts: 7
New York: 7
Minnesota: 7
Pennsylvania: 7
New Jersey: 6

The chances of divorce also increase with each subsequent marriage.

Percentage of marriages ending in divorce (3)

First: 41%
Second: 60%
Third: 73%

Divorce and Children

While each child and family are unique, divorce has some common effects on children.

1.5 million
U.S. children whose parents divorce each year (4)

Couples with children divorce at a rate 40% lower than those who don’t have children. (3)


Children living with a divorced parent who live in a household below the poverty line (3)

1 in 2

American children who will see the breakup of parent’s marriage (3)

The negative effects of divorce are most common in the years after the divorce.

Common short-term emotional effects of divorce on children (5)

Lack of concentration
Fear of abandonment

Sometimes these negative emotional effects can last through adulthood.

1 in 4

Adults with divorced parents who experience serious emotional, social and psychological trouble (4)

Helping Your Child Through

For many people considering divorce, the impact on their children is their primary concern. Here are some tips for helping ensure your child comes through as emotionally unscathed as possible. (6, 7)
Be honest and clear with your children about what’s happening and what will change in their lives
Present a united front if you can — agree in advance what you’ll say to your children and be consistent
Give your children a chance to express their feelings honestly and without judgment
Consider a group program, whether it’s run by private counselors or the child’s school
Keep conflict between you and the child’s other parent away from the child
Don’t use children as messengers or go-betweens, especially when emotions are running hot
Expect resistance when you or your ex-spouse begin dating someone new
Remember to take care of yourself physically and emotionally throughout the process


in Affairs, Divorce

Ashley Madison, Adultery and Divorce. Is Your Life a Mess?

Ashley Madison is a website that facilitates married people having an affair. Their motto is "Life is short. Have an affair." It has been hacked, and the data related to the personal profiles of people registered has been made public. This will result in many divorces and separations when people discover their spouse was registered on the site.

What is the impact of the Ashley Madison hack on your divorce?

Adultery has no impact on your legal rights and obligations. In fact, the court is precluded from considering adultery when determining your legal rights and obligations.

Of course, if you are not an involved parent because you are preoccupied by your affair, adultery could indirectly have an impact on custody and access. Likewise, if you spent a lot of money on your affair, a judge may decide it is unconscionable that your spouse share in the resulting debt. Indirectly, adultery may have an impact.

Do you want revenge?

If you are the victim of adultery, you probably feel deeply hurt and want revenge. We have seen people get involved in long, bitter, costly legal battles because they wanted revenge from the court. In the end, they’re just disappointed and frustrated because the judge did not give what they wanted. The judges are precluded from doing that. It is a “no fault” system in Canada.

What is your best next step?

Your best course of action is to get a resolution of the legal issues in a timely and cost-effective manner. Get it resolved and move on. Collaborative Practice is a process in which the parties work together to problem-solve the issues without going to court.

Go to our website. to learn more. When you are ready to move forward, contact us for a consultation. We can help. 

Written by Brian Galbraith, Owner and President of Galbraith Family Law.

in Divorce

Separated, Stressed and Meeting with a Lawyer: How to Make the Most of Your Initial Meeting

If you are feeling stressed about the idea of meeting with a lawyer about your pending separation or divorce, you are totally normal. Everyone feels stress. Chances are you will feel much better once you are equipped with some knowledge about your various options and rights.
To make the most of your consultation with us, I’d like to share the following tips:


1. If you are able, try to do a bit of reading online to familiarize yourself with some of the issues that may apply in your situation. Our website at offers a wealth of free information and blogs on topics common to all relationship breakdowns.

2. Come to the meeting a bit early and as rested as possible so you are able to digest the information and options we have to offer you.

3. If you are really upset and stressed, bring a family member or friend with you who can take notes as it is difficult to remember everything when we are stressed.

4. Think about what your concerns are and what you hope to achieve in the long run.

5. Bring a list of questions. It will help in keeping our discussion focussed and directed.

6. If you have received a letter from your spouse’s lawyer, bring it with you.

7. Do a short summary outlining your family history. Include in it your date and place of marriage, your date of separation, the dates your children were born and any special events during your relationship. List any special needs that you may have, or those of your spouse or children, and a very brief employment history for both you and your spouse.

Remember that we are in the business of helping you navigate through the separation process and are happy to help you. Just be yourself, and know that I look forward to meeting you and working with you to reach your goals!

Written by Anna Preston, a lawyer at Galbraith Family Law. Here is a link to Anna’s profile. To book a consultation with Anna, please go to our website.

in Co-parenting

Are you struggling to communicate with your ex about parenting issues?

It is common for parents to experience difficulties communicating with the other parent about their children, post-separation. Inflamed emotions, shock, denial and grief over the separation may be interfering with your ability to make day-to-day parenting plans involving scheduling, children’s health issues or behavioural concerns.

Here are a couple of strategies that may reduce the tension and allow you to have more peaceful and productive conversations with your ex:

1 – Respond to hostile emails or texts using the “B.I.F.F.” method, recommended by Dr. Bill Eddy, founder of New Ways for Families and the High Conflict Institute.

“B.I.F.F.” stands for:

Brief – make sure your messages are brief, clear and to- the- point. Use brevity to signal that you don’t wish to get into a prolonged back-and- forth argument;

Informative – include all the necessary information about the co-parenting issue, while avoiding negativity and criticism;

Friendly – use a writing tone that treats the other parent the way you would like to be treated. This increases the chances of getting a friendly – or neutral – response;

Firm – while following the guideline of being friendly and doing what you can to promote a good working relationship with the other parent, you will also need to clearly state your position on an issue.  Avoid inviting more discussion or asking for more information unless you are negotiating or need the dialogue to continue.

For more information about BIFF communications and to read Bill’s article, go to our website which is found at

2 – Enroll in the Our Family Wizard web service. This is a communication platform designed to assist parents post-separation. It has many helpful features including a mobile app and special features such as ‘ToneMeter’, which is described as an ‘emotional spell-check’ for your messages. The sign-up fees are reasonable, and may well be worth the investment in more peaceful co-parenting. For more information, visit

Written by Toni Nieuwhof, a lawyer at Galbraith Family Law. Here is Toni’s profile. To book a consultation with Toni, please go to our website.