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Amicable divorce but outside interference

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  • Amicable divorce but outside interference

    Here's a summary of my description:

    - married Cuban girlfriend in October 2007
    - she and her son arrive in Canada September 2008 (ages 31 and 15 respectively)
    - the relationship deteriorates and they leave January 2009 (less than 4 month co-hab)
    - she begins to receive welfare March 2009
    - she is forced by welfare to retain a lawyer through legal-aid
    - she claims separation due to "emotional abuse"
    - she resists all efforts by her lawyer to take me to court
    - I retain one lawyer who I promptly fire when he tells her lawyer (untruthfully) that she and her son should be given $5000 and agree to return to Cuba (I believe he did this to instigate a fight so as to increase his hours)
    - I retain second lawyer who promises non-confrontational process
    - she maintains (and still does) that she wants none of the matrimonial home or my pension

    My financial status

    - approx. $80,000/year through employment
    - matrimonial home with approx. $54,000 equity at date of separation
    - pension (her half valued at approx. $3000)
    - December 2009 I purchase another house
    - I have since rented out the matrimonial home with her verbal permission
    - I now have approx. $30,000 rental income per year (matrimonial home + 2 apartments in new house)

    Her financial status

    - approx. $12,000/year welfare for her and her son (now 17)
    - apartment in Havana, Cuba
    - no other assets

    The problem

    - her lawyer will not allow her to sign the separation agreement that her and I agreed to which states that I have to pay back welfare for 3 years (according to immigration sponsorship agreement) and she gives up all rights to the matrimonial home and my pension (SHE STILL WANTS NOTHING)

    - welfare may cut her off if they don't like what she signs
    - her lawyer has not responded to me or her in over a year (you read that right)

    We speak frequently and we're in the process of finding her a new lawyer who will respect her wishes. I will be representing myself in the future. I'm in the process of parting ways with my lawyer due to a less-than-transparent billing process (that's for another thread).

    There are no custody issues (THANK GOD!) and we're not fighting. I do realize that I'm responsible for the welfare she collects until September 2011 (3 years after her arrival in Canada) and until the summer of 2018 for her son (until his 25th birthday). He's started working a part-time job which bodes well for the future.

    This doesn't seem to be at all complicated except for the matter of welfare. Has anyone dealt with this before?

    We're keeping this very, very amicable (I wish we got along this well when we lived together!) and I'm very thankful for that. If she were to take me to court, I would be hammered due to the huge difference in our financial statuses).

    Thanks to all who provide such valuable information on this forum!


  • #2
    I'm not an expert by any means, but would it not be a reasonable alternative to either offer her one of your rental apartments to live in or spousal support so that she does not need to be on welfare and have you paying it back?

    Could she not use the time until she's allowed to work here to study giving her the opportunity to find a decent job once she can work?

    Understanding that she doesn't WANT any of your assets, she is obligated to seek a reasonable settlement and welfare will require her to do so. Perhaps I'm missing something but it seems to me that if you're obligated to support her until she can work here it would be better to pay the money directly to her than her collecting welfare and you paying them back.


    • #3
      We have no interest in living the in same house. We're on good terms but we have our separate lives and intend to keep it that way.

      What she receives in welfare is far less than what I would be ordered to pay. Both my lawyers were in agreement on this. That's why I'm just letting it ride.

      I'm only required to support her for three years. The undertaking (immigration sponsorship agreement) states that I'm obligated to support her for three years, however, she's always obligated to make an effort to support herself.

      I'm not holding my breath on her being able to support herself anytime soon. After over two years in Canada, she still hardly speaks any English.

      It was also explained to me that if I begin to support her before we have a separation agreement it may become indefinite or a longer period than I planned. I'm obviously interested in paying for as short a period as possible and as l little as possible.



      • #4
        I'm confused on why you'd have to live in the same house? You say you've rented out the matrimonial home and purchased another property.

        You can negotiate your own agreement outside of what you'd be ordered to pay. As long as you both have independant legal advice before signing the two of you can come to your own agreement without lawyers involved at all. You could agree with her that you would pay the amount she is currently recieving from welfare, include an end date - ie: the date your obligation to support her ends.

        Your lawyers can't keep you from negotiating your own agreements between yourselves. Work the details out between the two of you minus the lawyers, pay for each of you to have independant legal advice, sign it and move on.

        I don't understand why, if you both agree, it's being made so complicated.


        • #5
          Whether or not she agrees, and whether or not she says she doesn't want the mat home NOW, if he "rents" the mat home to her and she moves in BEFORE they have a separation agreement and BEFORE they are divorced, there is a good chance that he's just given her a free house.

          Now, he could fight it and probably win, but she has no money and wouldn't be able to pay costs, he'd have legal fees, no house and no rental income in the meantime and be paying taxes, mortgage and eventual repairs etc. This would not be in his best interests even in a best case scenario. He can very likely rent the house out for more now than he would save in welfare costs. If she was in the house rent free, this lowers her welfare payment, which he then repays, but it doesn't eliminate it.

          It's not an advantage financially, it keeps her even more directly dependent on him, it makes him vulnerable to a claim on the house, he wouldn't be able hold her responsible for any damages. No win in any of that.

          Best thing to do is what he is doing, cut all possible financial ties to her, not admit any entitlement to anything (spousal, mat home residence, etc), pay support through the welfare which will be cut off automatically through immigration law, not through family law.

          It sounds like she just wanted into Canada and has no ill feelings toward him, but keep things as separate as possible because she could change her mind at any time and think she could go after his assets or further support.

          As far as her lawyer not wanting to sign the separation agreement, of course he doesn't, because this ends his paycheque. As long as he is paying welfare he is fulfilling his obligations and once the 3 years are up the deal is between him and welfare, not him and his ex. So I wouldn't worry about a separation agreement regarding welfare payments, you are existing fine with the current arrangement. What you want is a hard binding agreement on the matrimonial home so you can put all of this away and stop thinking about it and just close the file with welfare when the time is up.


          • #6
            @blinkandimgone: I rent the former matrimonial home for $1600/month (basically my expenses so I'm not making any money) and the tenants have to pay their own utilities which are are about $250/month. She's getting about $1000/month so I definitely feel this is the better situation.

            I'm currently living in the top-floor of a triplex. The basement apartment and main floor apartment rents + $400 out of my pocket covers all the expenses. I'm living cheap and neither of us want to live under the same roof.

            It's being made complicated by her lawyer (Legal Aid clown).

            But, good news! Her son just started working part-time. Hopefully this will motivate her towards greater independence.

            @Mess: Thanks for reassuring me that I'm on the right track. I'm going to help her find a new lawyer and cover the cost of her ILA to have the house and pension signed over to me. Fortunately, we remain on good terms so I'm not being kept awake at night about this but people do have a funny way of changing their minds.

            While I sometimes feel overwhelmed by all this, I'm further saddened to read some of the stories here. Custody is obviously the worst. Something needs to be done about the family law system. It's seems to be driven by sheer emotion and fueled by whatever assets exist.

            Thanks for the help guys. I just wanted some external opinions.



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