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An Introduction to Family Law in Ontario

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Common family law issues

Parenting issues

Parents have to decide issues about their children like:

  • where they will live
  • decision-making responsibility or who will make major decisions about their health, education, and religion
  • parenting time or how much time they will spend with each parent

Decision-making responsibility and parenting time used to be called custody and access.

Child support

In most cases, parents have to financially support their children until they turn 18 and sometimes longer. Child support is money that one parent usually pays to the other parent who has the child living with them most of the time.

The amount of support usually depends on the income of the parent paying support and the number of children they have to support. There may also be an amount for special or extraordinary expenses, such as child care or health care.

Property division

When a married couple separates, they usually share the increase in their money or property that happened during the marriage. They also have an equal right to continue to live in the home they were living in together. It does not matter which partner owns or rents the home.

These rules do not apply to common-law couples. If a common-law couple separates, each partner usually keeps their own money and property. In most cases, they only divide what they own together.

A common-law partner may be able to claim a share of the other partner's money or property, but this is not an automatic right.

Spousal support

Spousal support is money paid by one partner to the other after they separate or divorce. It is not an automatic right. A partner might have the legal right to support if they were:

  • married,
  • a common-law partner for at least 3 years, or
  • in a relationship for some period of time and had a child together.