Behrendt Law Chambers has handled numerous cases, ranging from simple, uncontested divorces to complex and bitter divorces. We use a variety of approaches, including negotiation, mediation, arbitration or litigation, depending on what is needed in an individual case.
Successful Divorce Mediation
Behrendt Law Chambers represented a client who was still able to communicate well with his wife when they separated. We recommended that he and his wife pursue divorce mediation, which they chose to do. Throughout the mediation, we took a proactive role to ensure that he understood the law and helped him prepare for the mediation sessions. At the end of the mediation, we ensured that he understood and was satisfied with the agreement reached with his wife. We resolved tax issues and effected the transfer of the real estate.
Complex Separation Agreement
Behrendt Law Chambers represented a client in negotiating a divorce settlement agreement that involved the issues of child custody and access, child and spousal support, and the division of property. Through aggressive settlement negotiations, we managed to ensure that our client obtained joint custody of his daughter, all of the access to her that he wanted, plus we minimised the support payments and equalization payment he had to make.
Successful Court Appearances
Although negotiation is normally preferable, it is not always possible. Behrendt Law Chambers is no stranger to the courtroom, having appeared at many motions, case conferences, settlement conferences, and trials regarding simple and complex divorce and family law issues.
Property Issues on Divorce
Although property division on divorce may seem to be a straightforward mathematical calculation, except in the simplest of cases, numerous disputes can arise. Behrendt Law Chambers has dealt with all of these types of disputes many times.
Date Of Separation In Dispute
In some cases, it’s clear when a relationship has ended – one party may decide to leave the home, or there may be a big fight. However, in many cases, it’s not clear. For instance, a relationship may gradually end over a period of years. For instance, a spouse may move to a different bedroom with the rest of the relationship continuing as before, a couple may eat dinner together less and less frequently, or a couple may gradually spend less and less time together. In these cases, it is difficult to determine what the exact separation date is. Each spouse believes that the relationship ended on a different date, and this can impact the value of the assets dramatically.
Value Of Asset In Dispute
Some assets are easy to value – for instance a bank account. You can tell exactly how much you have in the bank, simply by looking at your bank statement. But many assets are not that easy to value. One common example of this is a pension. Your pension is worth a different amount, depending on when you plan to retire. The earlier you receive your pension, the more valuable it is.
This is because you will be receiving your pension income for a longer period of time. It is common in separations for the spouse who has a pension to argue that he or she planned to work as long as possible – perhaps because they enjoy their job so much. The other spouse then argues no, the pension holder planned to retire as early as possible, because he or she did not like their work and could not wait to spend the rest of their lives golfing. The difference between the two values can be hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Disposition Cost Issues
There are costs to converting property to cash. For instance, there may be tax consequences for cashing in RRSPs, and real estate commissions for selling property. Often the costs of converting property to cash are unclear, and thus are in dispute.
Gifts and Loans
In many cases, a couple has received money from their parents or other family members. When they separate, they dispute whether the money was a gift, or whether it is a loan that needs to be paid back. Often, this is complicated by the fact that family financial transactions are not as formal as ordinary financial transactions.
Who owns what property can play an important role in the division of property. For instance, a home can increase in value tremendously between the time the parties separate, and the time that the property is divided. If the home is in the name of one spouse only, then that spouse gets the entire benefit of the increase in value. By arguing that the other spouse has a constructive trust interest in the home, we have been successful in getting that increase in value shared with the other spouse.
Property Divided So Children Could Remain in Matrimonial Home
In one case, Behrendt Law Chambers’ client moved out of the matrimonial home. His wife wanted to stay in the home with their children, to minimise the negative impact of the divorce on their children. The house and the mortgage were in both our client’s and his wife’s name. The only way they could have paid off the mortgage would have been to sell the home, which they didn’t want to do. At the same time, we insisted that our client not be responsible for the mortgage. They worked out an agreement in which Our client’s wife obtained a new mortgage in her name, and used the funds to pay off the joint mortgage.
Bitter Child Custody Battles
Behrendt Law Chambers has represented many parents in bitter child custody battles.
Bitter Child Custody Dispute Over Infant
A client came to Behrendt Law Chambers when his wife left home with their nine-month-old daughter. Communication between him and his wife had broken down completely. His wife
wanted sole custody and was willing to let him see his daughter only three times per week, and then for only two to three hours per visit. We successfully won joint custody for his client and access with his daughter three full days per week.
In another dispute, all communication between the parents of a 10 year old and 7 year old broke down. As well, the wife had charged Behrendt Law Chambers’ client with assault. Despite
this, we obtained joint custody for our client. As well, the mother wanted to move the children from a French-language school to an English-language school. We ensured that the children were able to continue in the same French-language school they had been in.
Obtained Spousal Support
A client came to Behrendt Law Chambers to represent her in a divorce against her self-employed husband. Her husband refused to pay her spousal support, claiming that his business was not earning much money. We managed to show that his business was earning more than he claimed and obtained spousal support for his client.
Canadian child support may seem to be a simple issue, as the child support guidelines set out how much child support is payable for a given income and the number of children. But there
are numerous disputes that can arise. Behrendt Law Chambers has dealt with these many times before.
Amount of income in dispute
The amount of income someone earns can be in dispute. This is especially so for:
- self-employed people
- people with a significant amount of investment income
- people paid by commission
- people who are paid in cash
- people whose income fluctuates, and
- people paid in non-traditional ways such as through stock option
Company owner only taking low salary
In one case, the wife of Behrendt Law Chambers’ client claimed that she had only a modest income, despite being the majority owner of a large company. We showed that the company had profits that it could easily pay out as income to her.
In another case, Behrendt Law Chambers showed that his client’s wife’s income was substantially higher than claimed on her tax return. As a self-employed professional, she had claimed
all sorts of deductions. These deductions had to be added back to her income for child support purposes.
Special and extraordinary expenses in dispute
The issue of special and extraordinary expenses can be in dispute. For a family of modest means, the costs of hockey equipment and lessons can be a burden, whereas for a wealthier family, these expenses are common. Behrendt Law Chambers has many times successfully obtained child support to help children get involved in important extracurricular activities.
Child Support Guidelines need not be followed
If a person spends more than 40% of the time with his or her children, then the Guidelines do not need to be followed. Behrendt Law Chambers has successfully obtained lower child support payments for parents who are devoted to their children, and spend a significant amount of time with them.
Child Support Varied
Behrendt Law Chambers’ client lost his job. The wife of our client would not agree to a reduction in child support, arguing that our client was intentionally unemployed. We got a court order suspending his client’s obligation to pay child support until he found a new job, and reducing the arrears of child support his client owed.
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