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.


in Decision Making About Children

Complaints Against The Children’s Aid Society

Nobody listens to me!

If my grandchild needs protection, why won’t the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies (the Society) do something?

The biological mother and father hold greater rights than grandparents in child protection laws or custody/access disputes.  As a grandparent, (unless you also qualify as a parent) you are entitled to be informed of the reasons for a decision made by the Society, but you are not entitled to have a voice in decisions made by the Society about your grandchild.  Complaints against the Society and the right to be heard in decisions affecting the care of a child are typically reserved to parents.

A parent can initiate a complaint against the Society by following a procedure governed by Ontario Regulation 496/06.  The complaint must be in writing.

Within 7 days of receiving the complaint, the Society will determine if it is eligible for review. If deemed ineligible, the Society must inform you of the decision and the reasons in writing.

If it is eligible for review, you will be notified by the Society and provided with a date and time for a hearing by an Internal Complaints Review Panel (ICRP).  The members of the ICRP are selected by the Executive Director of the Society and include a senior manager from the Society, other Society staff and at least one person who is external to the Society.  No person selected as a member of the ICRP has been directly involved with the complaint on review. The ICRP meeting must be held within 14 days of the date provided in the written notice or meeting time requested by you. You may bring along a support person.

Within 14 days after the meeting The ICRP will send a written summary of the results within 14 days after the meeting, including any agreed upon next steps to you. If you are not satisfied with the response, you may apply to the Child and Family Services Review Board (CFSRB).

According to the Child and Family Services Act, the Society must ensure that families have the opportunity to be heard and represented when concerns over services and decisions arise.

The CFSRB may review decisions made by Societies where the right to be heard was not provided. The concept of ‘being heard’ is described by the Board as: active listening, discussions and the Society actively taking the steps needed to address concerns and communicating so that you feel your concerns were taken seriously.

The CFSRB may also review allegations that the Society has failed to provide you with reasons for a decision that affects your interests. What constitutes sufficient reasons is examined on a case-by-case basis. Information on what factors were taken into account to arrive at a decision must be provided.

When the Society makes a decision regarding a complaint, it must provide you with reasons for the decision. This is mandatory for parents and for non-parents. You may appeal to the Board if you feel the reasons are insufficient, and you can go directly to the Board if the Society failed to provide sufficient reasons. The Board may then order the Society to provide a detailed written explanation.

The Board will not hear your complaint about a child’s care if you are a grandparent that does not qualify as a parent (a person who has been provided services by the Society.)

If you are a parent seeking to complain about the Society’s decision regarding the care of the child ‒ such as a placement decision or a failure to investigate decision ‒ then reference should be made to the Society’s obligation to fulfill its mandate within prescribed standards.

Under Ontario Regulation 206/00, the following mandatory obligations must be carried out by the Society upon the receipt of a referral: Within 24 hours of receiving information that a child is or may be in need of protection, a Society shall, if the decision made that a child protection investigation should be initiated, determine, in accordance with the Child Protection Standards, the time within which a child protection worker should first meet with the child and family who are the subject of the investigation.

The tool mandated for the response assessment is the Eligibility Spectrum. Based on the way a matter is “coded,” the response time will be either 24 hours or 7 days. If a matter is coded above the intervention line, an investigation is needed and if not, there is no need for an investigation.

Regulation 206/00 under the CFSA prescribes standards for social workers in conducting investigations.  The Society worker must develop an investigation plan after reviewing all current and historical information about the child and family.

As part of the investigation, each family member will be individually interviewed. Any additional children in the home will be interviewed and observed. The Society and/or police will interview the alleged perpetrator.

Next, if there is to be ongoing involvement, then a safety assessment must be conducted. The family and extended family will help to identify safety threats to be included in the safety assessment. A safety plan will be developed and implemented and then monitored.    The safety plan should not solely rely on reports by the clients or on the client’s promises to change their behaviour.

Next, the Society must assess future risk of harm by conducting risk assessment.  This risk assessmentis a vehicle to engage families in defining problems, identifying what needs to change and working towards a concrete goal-child safety.

Concluding a child protection investigation requires the Society to determine whether original or new child protection concerns have been verified, not verified or are inconclusive.  It also examines if a child is in need of protection, if a child and/or family requires ongoing services, if all reasonable efforts have been made to collect evidence and if a continued investigation would yield new information.  The child and the person alleged to have caused the need for protection are to be advised of the outcome of the investigation within 14 days of completion.

Service obligations between a parent and the Society do not cease when active court proceedings are in progress. Rather, they are different and run parallel to the proceedings. If your lawyer receives a letter from the Society, this is not sufficient. This does not replace the Society’s obligation with regard to communication and engagement of parents in the decision regarding their child’s care.

If the Society worker has failed to abide by the Standards, the only way for you to be heard is to follow the procedure outlined above.

We can help you should you have concerns with how you have been treated by the Society.

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

in Co-parenting, Divorce

Travelling with the kids? Get consent!

Planning a trip across the Canadian border with the kids this summer without the other parent?  You need a notarized travel consent!

If you are separated, trips without the other parent are the new normal. There is nothing worse than being stopped at the border with your kids in tow because you don’t have the right paper work. Your holiday could end before it starts.

Here’s what to include:

1.      Full names and birth dates of each parent and each child.

2.      Specific dates for travel and mode of transportation.

3.      The destination address and contact details.

4.      A statement authorizing the travelling parent to make emergency medical decisions while the children are in their care.

5.      The letter should be in the form of a statutory declaration and must be notarized.

 We can help prepare and notarize the letter for you so you can travel worry free.  Bon voyage!

Written by Thea Cameron, a lawyer at Galbraith Family Law. To book a consultation with Thea, please go to our website.

in Divorce, Separation Agreements

Separation Agreements – An Investment In Yourself

It is no secret to anyone involved in the legal industry that family court is an expensive method to resolve the issues arising from separation. Frankly, it can hemorrhage a family financially. 

One way to avoid huge court costs is to engage in the negotiation of a separation agreement.  This enables you to keep your dispute private, and out of court.  While some believe they can draft their own agreement, it is not always wise to do so.  If a dispute arises in future about the terms of your home made agreement, the courts may toss your agreement aside, declaring it invalid.  

A legally binding agreement must meet the following criteria:

  1. You must make full disclosure of your income, expenses, assets, debts and any other information that is relevant to your agreement.
  2. Don’t take advantage of the other party’s weaknesses or ignorance to get a good deal for yourself.
  3. Don’t pressure someone into signing the agreement, using the children or finances as a means to control their decision to sign. It must be entered into voluntarily.

Make the decision to obtain independent legal advice prior to signing the agreement.  In this way, you have evidence that each of you understood the agreement and the consequences of signing it. 

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