Family Law Blog

When Can I Throw Out My Ex’s Stuff?


Piles of Former Spouse's Stuff

Remaining in a house or apartment filled with reminders of your former relationship can be tough, and there is a natural urge to get rid of it all and start fresh. However, before you start piling their possessions on the front lawn, you should take heed. While you are, as an occupant, legally entitled to dispose of items that are abandoned in your home, you have to first make sure they are abandoned. To do this, you have to give reasonable notice to your spouse that you intend to get rid of the possessions and give them a reasonable opportunity to make arrangements to retrieve their belongings. Once you have done both, and your spouse fails to take advantage of the opportunity, you are legally entitled to dispose of the items. If you dispose of the items before doing those two things, you may be liable for the cost of replacing the items. In the worst case scenario your ex could have your criminal charged with theft or mischief if you impulsively destroy or get rid of valuables that do not belong to you.  In all scenarios, it is best to consult with a knowledgeable family lawyer as to whether you have complied with these requirements.


Generally speaking, one shouldn’t be too quick to throw out their spouse’s possessions. A better avenue would be to give your spouse notice in writing of your intent to dispose of the items if they are not picked up. Provide a reasonable deadline for picking the items up and suggest reasonable times that they can come and pick up the goods. If they are not available at those times, you should make it possible for them to retrieve the goods when they are available. You should make it easy for them to retrieve their good: ensure that they can get into the house or apartment, that they can use the elevators to move (if in an apartment building), and so forth.


As well, if you were married to your spouse, you should be aware of s.24(1) of the Ontario Family Law Act, which lists the orders that a judge can make in relation to the matrimonial home. That section gives judges wide latitude in relation to the contents of the matrimonial home, including the power to order the preservation of the contents or the delivery of the contents to the spouse who has moved out. If you throw put your husband’s or wife’s belongings, it could seem like you were trying to circumvent the Family Court Judge and take things into your own hands.  Judge do not like it when you do that.  It can get you into a lot of trouble. (This page goes over other ways you get can get your self in trouble in Family Court, and for additional big family law mistakes, watch the video below.) If you were married, it is prudent to talk to an experienced family law lawyer about the best course of action.


Ontario Family Law Podcast

9 - Property Division in Ontario After Marriage

Also, if you were married, keep in mind that your spouse’s things may fall into the equalization calculation.  If you throw out your spouse’s stuff, that may mean that your spouse can claim all those things had zero value on the date of separation, which can result in your spouse owing you less money, or even you owing your spouse more if all of your stuff stays in the calculation.   In the worst case scenario, your spouse may want all their stuff to go on your side, because you ended up with it and disposed of it, which can increase the amount you owe when your property is equalized after a marriage. 


If, after giving your spouse reasonable notice and opportunities, they choose not to avail themselves of their belongings or, even better yet, they say they do not want them in writing (email is fine), you can dispose of their property in a reasonable manner. It is very important to have written proof of that notice to avoid criminal charges or unfavourable adjustments to property calculations.  Getting rid of the stuff  does not mean a pile on the lawn. That makes you look bitter and angry at best - or like a mean person at worse.  If you end up in Family Court having a judge think you are that type of person will not help you.  A better strategy would be to donate the goods to a charitable organization that will put the property to good use. That way, the items will not go to waste and you can claim a charitable deduction for the value of the goods.  But make sure you kept track of all your attempts to get your ex to take their stuff away.

Book - Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law
Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law Available on Kindle
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To learn even more about how to deal with the consequences of the breakdown of a relationship, you may want to get a copy of this easy-to-understand book on the basics of Ontario Family Law as a paperback, or as a $9.99 e-book for KindleKobo, or iPad/iPhone/Mac.  You may also want to listen to this podcast or watch this video. You can also use the search on the right to find lots more articles about marriage and divorce.


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After separation, it is always better to keep your emotions in check and act reasonably and strategically, not impassively.  Doing that can keep you far head of your spouse and will allow you to come off the better in your separation  To make sure you do the right things, you really should discuss your particular case with an excellent family law lawyer.   Contact Certified Specialist in Family Law (and author of the book to the left), John Schuman, by emailing him, calling 416-446-5869, or using the contact form below.  We answer all inquiries promptly and we can arrange for you to come in quickly for a consultation (charged at a reduced hourly rate).


Many thousands of people get family law assistance from this website everyday.  If you have found this page useful, please share it on your social network using the buttons at the bottom of the page.


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Can I Get Out Of A Bad Separation Agreement?

Calculating the Cost of A Bad Separation Agreement


The first step to answering your question is to look at the document that you signed when you separated. The document itself may either set out how to change it or give a clue as to how to get the separation agreement thrown out. You should take it to a family law lawyer who has experience not only in drafting these ‘separation agreements, but in going to court to enforce them and to set them aside. That lawyer will be able to go through with you and explain to you what your rights are in relation to both spousal support and property. Chances are that if you did not have a lawyer help you, and explain the agreement to you, then the agreement will not be enforceable.   Section 56 of Ontario’s Family Law Act sets out the circumstance in which a judge can set aside an agreement and order something different from the terms of the agreement.  One of the bases on which a judge can do that is if one (or both) parties did not understand what they are signing.  Most judges think that to understand a legal document properly, you need to get advice from a lawyer, so if you did not, judges are very likely to set aside an agreement.


The Family Law Act sets out circumstances in which an agreement can be set aside:

  1. The agreement is not in writing
  2. The agreement is not signed by the parties
  3. The parties signatures are not witnessed
  4. The parties did not exchange complete disclosure of their income, assets and liabilities for all relevant times (so the parties know what they are getting or giving up) if the agreement deals with money
  5. The parties did not understand the agreement (the only proof that courts usually accept that a party understood an agreement is a certificate of independent legal advice signed by a lawyer)
  6. The agreement, or the way it was negotiated, are contrary to the law of contract, the Divorce Act or the Family Law Act.  This should not happen if the parties had lawyers, but there are lots of things that agreements have to do, and to consider and must not do.


Ontario Family Law Podcast

24 - How to Have a Valid and Enforceable Separation Agreement

30 - Entitlement to Spousal Support

Even though the law, as set out by the Supreme Court of Canada, says that separated parties should be held to their agreements, separation agreements are regularly set aside because they have one of the problems set out above. It takes an experienced lawyer to draft an unimpeachable separation agreement and, even then, there is always a chance that a court will set it aside. A good family law lawyer will be able to examine your agreement and your circumstances, and advise you as to whether they think that the agreement will stand. For more on the rules for separation agreements, you should listen to this podcast and watch the video below on how to have an enforceable separation agreement. However, as set out below, you should speak with a family lawyer to discuss your options because the validity of your separation agreement can really depend on the specific facts of your case. If your agreement could have any of the above problems, you should speak to a family law lawyer right away.


If the agreement only dealt with ‘assets’ and not support, you may be entitled to claim spousal support depending on the circumstances of your marriage and divorce. You should listen to this podcast which explains how spousal support works in Ontario and the three bases for entitlement to it.  Agreements that say “no spousal support” frequently run into problems under one or more of the points above (especially point 6) because there are a lot of rules for those clauses.  Unless you had a  lawyer write up the agreement, then chances are it will not hold up.  If the agreement only dealt with support, then you may be able to make a property claim, especially if you were married.  Property claims for common-law couples are more complicated and difficult. However, there are set time periods when you can make property claims.  If you waited more than six years from the date of separation to advance an equalization claim, or more than two years to advance a claim in equity, you are probably cannot make the claim anymore. 


Agreements for child support can usually be changed every year, and agreements that address spousal and child support may be easier to change.


If you have a custody/access or parenting agreement that is bad for the kids, then it is easier to get that agreement thrown out.  Judges base their decisions about children on what is in the children’s best interests, and not on agreements between parents (unless those agreements are in the child’s best interests).  Judges cannot assume that agreements between parents are in a child’s best interests - they have to investigate those agreements and get the evidence before the court to do so. 

Book - Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law


To learn even more about setting aside separation agreements, you may want to get a copy of this easy-to-understand book on the basics of Ontario Family Law as a paperback, or as a $9.99 e-book for KindleKobo, or iPad/iPhone/Mac.  It has a chapter that is specifically about how to change a separation agreement.  You may also want to listen to this podcast or watch these videos. You can also use the search on the right to find lots more articles about marriage and divorce. This website has hundreds of pages answers the questions of real people, so there is a good change you can get some information about your problem or concerns.

Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law Available on Kindle
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However, since a lot turns on the specific terms of your agreement, and the circumstances in which you negotiated it, you really should discuss your particular case with an excellent family law lawyer.  There could be a lot of money at stake. Contact Certified Specialist in Family Law (and author of the book to the left), John Schuman, by emailing him, calling 416-446-5847, or using the contact form below.  We answer all inquiries promptly and we can arrange for you to come in quickly for a consultation (charged at a reduced hourly rate).


Many thousands of people get family law assistance from this website everyday.  If you have found this page useful, please share it on your social network using the buttons at the bottom of the page.


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One of Our Teenagers Moved In With My Ex, What Happens to Child Support?

University Student

Child support is a common area of contention amongst former spouses, and variations and changes to child support amounts are common. Watch the video  below on how child support is payable, by who to whom, and how much.  It is always good when parents pay child support consistently and reliably.  Although, a parent can come to rely on that support continuing, which is not something a teenage child may take into account when deciding to change homes.   The teenager may move to be closer to friends, or to school, or because the “rules” are better with the other parent.   In unfortunate circumstances, a child may move because the support paying parent lures the child just to avoid paying support - a move that can backfire because children are often more expensive  than child support (especially teenager children) and there can be a big emotional backlash if the teenager figures out the true motives.  Regardless, having one of your children change households constitutes a ‘material change in circumstances’, an event that can trigger a review of child support payments.



It is very important to consult with a lawyer in these circumstances to determine what the proper child support arrangements should be. If support is being paid pursuant to a court order, the process is more complicated and the video below explains the steps required to change a support order. If there is an order in place, it is necessary to talk to a lawyer before changing arrangements.  If you do not change your order properly, you could find yourself owing a massive retroactive child support payment - even if you thought you and your ex had a “deal” on child support. 




Ontario Family Law Podcast

10 - Child Support - Who Pays and How Much?

11 - Child Support's Special and Extraordinary Expenses

Despite the change of living arrangements, child support will still be payable according to the Child Support Guidelines. And payments will still be made based on the number of children in each household. Since your son is now living full-time with your ex-spouse, you will have to pay him child support based on your income, and your ex-spouse will continue to pay table support to you for the child that lives with you, based on his income. There will then be a ‘set-off’ and the whoever has the higher support obligation will get a credit for the amount they are due. For instance, if you owe your spouse $200 per month in support, and he owes you $500 per month, there will be a set-off and your ex-spouse will pay $300. However, this example is simplistic and real cases involve more calculations. As well, if there are s.7 expenses, there will have to be a reapportionment of them, which is a more complicated exercise.

Book - Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law


To learn even more about child support, you may want to get a copy of this easy-to-understand book on the basics of Ontario Family Law as a paperback, or as a $9.99 e-book for KindleKobo, or iPad/iPhone/Mac.  You may also want to listen to this podcast or watch this video. You can also use the search on the right to find lots more articles about marriage and divorce.

Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law Available on Kindle
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Child support can get complicated, and it can involve a lot of money  To make sure that child support is right in your situation, contact Certified Specialist in Family Law (and author of the book to the left), John Schuman, by emailing him, calling 416-446-5847, or using the contact form below.  We answer all inquiries promptly and we can arrange for you to come in quickly for a consultation (charged at a reduced hourly rate).

Many thousands of people get family law assistance from this website everyday.  If you have found this page useful, please share it on your social network using the buttons at the bottom of the page.


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If I Was Married in India, Can I Get Divorced in Canada? What Do I Have to Do?

The World

While the question on this page refers specifically to India, the answer applies no matter where people were married.  When it comes to getting divorced, it is where the spouses live that matters. In fact, in a reported case, John Schuman helped a couple that was marred in Cuba but now lived in Canada.  This page applies to everyone who was married someplace else, but is now separated in Canada.


Ontario Family Law Podcast

3 - What is a divorce? How do I get one?

55- Can you get divorced in Canada?

Unlike many areas of family law, the law of divorce is the same across Canada and is found in the Divorce Act. Under the Divorce Act,  a judge may grant a divorce where one of the spouses has been ordinarily resident in a Canadian province for at least one year. So if you have been living continuously in one province in Canada for at least a year, you can apply for a divorce, even if your spouse has not been. So you can apply for a Canadian divorce even if your wife is in India. You should listen to this podcast where I explain the process to get a divorce and its consequences. 


Canada will not recognize a divorce granted in another jurisdiction unless at least one of the spouses was “ordinarily resident” in the jurisdiction that granted the divorce.   That means, that for Canada to recognize a divorce in India, your spouse must be living there “full time” and have her life based out of the jurisdiction in India that is giving the divorce.   Where you were married has no impact on where you are divorced.  Canadian courts divorce people who were married in other countries every day.  What matters is that one spouse actually lives in the place where the divorce is granted.  If you get a divorce from someplace other than where one of the spouses lives, you will have to go to court in Canada to get that divorce recognized here.




In Canada, there are three grounds that could entitle you to a divorce. However, the most common ground is living separate and apart for at least one year. This is a legal test, and the fact that you and your spouse are not in the same country does not necessarily mean that you are living separate and apart. Many married couples live in  different regions (e.g. soldiers deployed to another country) and so the important question to ask is whether a stranger observing you and your wife would think that you are married. Perhaps you used to visit her frequently and no longer do, or you no longer speak on the phone. It is always best to consult with a family lawyer to determine whether you are eligible for a divorce, especially in unique situations such as yours.


Divorce

If you are eligible for a divorce, there are three types in Canada. The first is a joint divorce. This is where one spouse files an application for divorce with the consent of the other spouse. The second is an uncontested divorce. This is where one spouse files an application for divorce, and the other spouse does not file an “Answer” within the time limit. This allows the spouse seeking the divorce to get a divorce order without the other spouse being able to contest it. The final type is a contested divorce. This occurs where one spouse files for divorce, and the other spouse does not agree with the terms of the divorce, such as property division or spousal support. In such cases, the other spouse will file an “Answer” and the divorce will proceed as a family court proceeding. You should watch this video where I explain the family court process, which applies to contested divorces. In all cases, you will have to serve your wife with the divorce application and, since she is in India, she will have 60 days to decide whether to contest the divorce.


When spouses get divorced, there are a number of ‘corollary’ issues, such as family property, spousal support and child support that have to be dealt with. If there are children, a judge will not grant a divorce unless there are concrete plans in place for the support of the children. You should watch this video on divorce and children and listen to this podcast where I explain the law on spousal support. In any case, it is important to speak with an experienced family law lawyer about these issues, as if they are not dealt with properly, it can end up costing you a lot of money.

Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law


Getting divorced is one of the biggest changes in peoples lives and how they go about it can affect the rest of their lives.  It is important to do it right.  To do it right, contact Certified Specialist in Family Law (and author of the book to the left), John Schuman, by emailing him, calling 416-446-5869, or using the contact form below.  We answer all inquiries promptly and we can arrange for you to come in quickly for a consultation (charged at a reduced hourly rate).

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Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law Available on Kindle
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To learn even more about the divorce process,  get a copy of this easy-to-understand book on the basics of Ontario Family Law as a paperback, or as a $9.99 e-book for KindleKobo, or iPad/iPhone/Mac.  You may also want to listen to this podcast or watch this video. You can also use the search on the right to find lots more articles about marriage and divorce.

Paperback available from:

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Many thousands of people get family law assistance from this website everyday.  If you have found this page useful, please share it on your social network using the buttons at the bottom of the page.


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How Do I Stop My Ex From Interfering on My Day With the Kids?

Spending time with child despite interference


When it comes to ‘meddling’ with your time with the kids after separation,generally your spouse is not allowed to interfere with your parenting time, such as by scheduling the children in events that you did not first consent to. Courts do not approve of parents who do not let the other parent spend their allotted time with their children. Judges have the power when making an order for custody or access to include a term of the order that neither parent can interfere with the other’s parenting time and if a spouse breaches this, they can be held in contempt of court.  To understand the different types of orders a judge can make, watch the video below.  This page explains how judges decide what type of child custody order to make.



Ontario Family Law Podcast

7 - Custody of the Children - what it means and how it is decided

17 - Sole Custody, Joint Custody, Shared Custody- How do Judges Decide?

11 - Child Support's Special and Extraordinary Expenses

However, like much else, there are exceptions to the general rule, such as if one parent has to book the child’s medical appointment on the other parent’s day because it is necessary for the child and it is the only time available. As well, the type of custodial arrangement you have (be it shared, joint, or sole) can have varying implications on what one parent can ‘schedule’ on the other parent’s day. You should listen to this podcast on what custody really means, and this podcast on how judges choose between the different types of custody.  As explained in this podcast, children’s activities, and whether the parents agree on them, can affect child support was well.  In any of these cases, it is best to speak to an experienced lawyer to discuss what your rights and obligations are, as every case is different.

16 - Family Court Step by Step 3 - the Conduct of the Trial


If you are not already in family court, then a good family lawyer will tell you your options for addressing these types of co-parenting problems without going to court.  Even if you are in court, you may still be able to use one of those options to reduce the conflict, and avoid expense and aggravation, for the benefit of your kids. Your lawyer should be telling you how to do that.


If you are in family court, then it is particularly important to be careful how you react to your ex’s interference with the children.  You can get yourself into trouble if you react to the other parent’s behaviour in the wrong way.  If you are preparing to go to trial or expect to be taken to trial, it is very important that you speak with an experienced family law lawyer. Not all family law lawyers have done a trial, and you need to speak with a lawyer who has done many trials and who knows how trials are won and lost. You should listen to this podcast on how family law trials are conducted in Ontario. You should also read this article to learn some of things that people should avoid doing when involved in a family law case. You can also watch the video below on some common mistakes people make when they are separating.



Book - Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law

To learn even more about custody, access and how to prepare for your family law case, you may want to get a copy of this easy-to-understand book on the basics of Ontario Family Law as a paperback, or as a $9.99 e-book for KindleKobo, or iPad/iPhone/Mac.  You may also want to listen to this podcast or watch this video. You can also use the search on the right to find lots more articles about marriage and divorce.

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Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law Available on Kindle
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To learn the best strategies to protect your kids, and your relationship with them, contact Certified Specialist in Family Law (and author of the book to the left), John Schuman, by emailing him, calling 416-446-5847, or using the contact form below.  We answer all inquiries promptly and we can arrange for you to come in quickly for a consultation (charged at a reduced hourly rate).


Many thousands of people get family law assistance from this website everyday.  If you have found this page useful, please share it on your social network using the buttons at the bottom of the page.


Can I Pay Child Support Into Trust So the Other Parent Won’t Waste It?

Parent Wasting Child Support Money

Child support is a common area of contention amongst former spouses, and many payor parents question whether the support is actually being used for the benefit of the children. You should watch the video below on how child support is payable, by who to whom, and how much. Even in circumstances where you believe that your spouse is not using the support amount for the children, you are not allowed to resort to ‘self-help’ measures such as putting the support in an account for the children to use in the future, or buying your child necessaries (such as clothes) in lieu of giving your former spouse money.  Judges view that a “controlling” or an attempt to run the other parent’s life through money.  They don’t like it.  Judges want each parent to be able to spend the money available to them as they see fit, because they assume that each parent prioritizes the child’s interests over their own.




If you believe that the support you are paying is not being used for the children and, as a result, your children are being deprived of food, shelter or other necessaries that child support is supposed to cover, this is a serious issue.  It is a child custody issue rather than a support issue because it shows that the parent is not prioritizing the children’s best interests such that a judge might want to change the parenting arrangements. If this is the case, you should consult immediately with a family lawyer to determine what your rights are and how you can ensure that your children’s basic needs are being met while in your spouse’s care.


To determine exactly how much support you should be paying, you should refer to the Child Support Guidelines, which governs the quantum of child support payable. If you believe that you are paying too much child support, you should watch the video below that explains the steps required to change a support order and contact an experienced family law lawyer.




For higher income earners, section 4(b)(ii) of the Child Support Guidelines allows a judge to order an amount that is different from the amount set out in the Child Support Tables, where that money is not being used for the children.  But, judges only look at that section in the clearest of circumstances and will not reduce support just because the parents disagree how the money should be used.  Judges have allowed child support to be used to pay a child’s horse expenses over saving the money for university expenses or other future needs.  There can be greater freedom to allocate child support money in shared parenting situations and where one parent is not paying his or her fair share of the children’s expenses, he or she may see the amount of child support he or she receives reduced.  Child support in shared parenting situations can be complicated, so if you should really speak to a good family lawyer if you are having child support trouble in shared parenting. 

Book - Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law


To learn even more about child support, you may want to get a copy of this easy-to-understand book on the basics of Ontario Family Law as a paperback, or as a $9.99 e-book for KindleKobo, or iPad/iPhone/Mac.  You may also want to listen to this podcast or watch this video. You can also use the search on the right to find lots more articles about marriage and divorce. 

To make an appointment to consult with Certified Specialist in Family Law, John Schuman,  call 416-446-5847, email him, or fill out the form below.  We answer all inquiries promptly. 

If you found this page helpful, please feel free to share it on your social network using the buttons below, or comment on it using the form below.



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