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Divorce Lawyers for Dads in Canada 

A network of family and divorce lawyers representing men and fathers in all provinces of Canada. 

Proceeding with divorce as a husband and father likely raises many questions about the future for you and your children. You’ll likely wonder how Canada’s family laws will impact your relationship with your kids and your finances. We are proud to connect our lawyers for dads with fathers such as yourself to provide insight and reassurance as you navigate the divorce process. We help you understand Canada’s divorce laws so you can make informed choices about how to proceed with your spouse and children. 

Canada’s Federal Divorce Act Affects Fathers’ Rights in Divorce

Canada’s Federal Divorce Act applies to all divorce proceedings in the country regardless of the province where you or your spouse live. The Act places duties on spouses, legal advisors, and courts when it comes to administering a divorce. Some of the duties for fathers as a party to a divorce proceeding under the Divorce Act include: 

  • A duty to exercise their parenting time, responsibilities, and contact consistently with the best interest of their child.
  • A duty to protect any child of the marriage from conflict related to the divorce. 
  • A duty to first attempt to handle conflicts related to the divorce through a family dispute resolution process instead of through court. 
  • A duty to provide complete, accurate, and current information when required (e.g., asset or financial information disclosure).
  • A duty to comply with orders made under the power of the Divorce Act. 

Aside from imposing duties on dads and other parties, the Divorce Act provides an outline for handling all aspects of divorce and related matters such as: 

  • Determining appropriate jurisdiction (especially important in cases where both parties file petitions on the same day or in different provinces or territories)
  • Child support determinations 
  • Spousal support awards 
  • Parenting arrangements and parenting plan issues (e.g., custody and visitation)
  • Future changes, removal, or suspension of orders (e.g., discontinuation of spousal support)
  • Other items related to the legal effect, enforcement, or compliance of a divorce order 
  • The appeals process for challenging a divorce order 

Reasons a Father Can Apply for Divorce in Canada 

The Divorce Act only allows individuals that meet certain criteria to apply for a divorce and the court will only grant the divorce order if required conditions are met. To file for divorce in Canada, the following must apply to your situation: 

  • You must be legally married.
  • You or your spouse must have lived in Canada for at least one year immediately before applying for divorce. 
  • You have already separated from your spouse (or intend to do so) and have no intention of reconciling the marriage. The Divorce Act requires courts to question if reconciliation is a possibility before finalizing a divorce order. 

The standard for dissolving a marriage in Canada is showing that the marriage has broken down beyond repair. Canada recognizes three possible reasons a party may use to prove the breakdown of a marriage: 

  • Separation: You and your spouse have lived separately for at least one year. 
  • Adultery: One of the spouses has been intimate with another person during the marriage. The non-adultering spouse must not have forgiven the act or you and your spouse separated for at least 90 days. 
  • Abuse: Your spouse has been physically or mentally cruel to you

Canada considers separation to be a reason for a no-fault divorce. Adultery or abuse, however, are generally given as for-fault reasons to obtain a divorce.  It should be noted that regardless of the grounds being alleged to obtain a divorce, the grounds for divorce will not generally impact the other issues associated with marriage breakdown, like child custody, support or property division. 

We Pay Attention to Each Province and Territory’s Local Family Law Rules

Each Canadian province and territory have powers over the administration of family law matters under the Constitution. These rules apply in addition to the laws under the Divorce Act in cases where spouses and unmarried couples alike separate. Generally, the rules will concern preferences over form requirements, notice rules, and other timelines for the divorce process. Our divorce lawyers for dads are careful to consider the local family law rules that may apply to your divorce based on where you, your spouse, or your children may live. We regularly connect lawyers committed to advocating for fathers’ rights in the following territories and provinces: 

  • Alberta 
  • British Columbia 
  • Manitoba 
  • New Brunswick 
  • Newfoundland and Labrador 
  • Nova Scotia
  • Ontario 
  • Prince Edward Island 
  • Quebec 
  • Saskatchewan 

Your specific locality in Canada may also affect the outcomes and figures when it comes to your divorce orders. For example, the calculation for determining your child support obligations considers your location as the paying parent to find the appropriate amount of support.  

Our Services as Divorce Lawyers for Men Applying for Divorce in Canada

Our divorce lawyers for men provide representation to dads in every stage of a divorce proceeding, no matter how contentious or emotional it may be. We do our best to hear the goals and concerns of our clients and translate those needs into an effective strategy. Below are some of our services and some perspectives on how our attorneys craft each case to meet the needs of the dads they represent. 

Uncontested Divorces and Separation Agreements 

Divorce is not always a process rife with conflict or bad intent. Sometimes, spouses simply want to discontinue the marriage amicably. When both parties agree on the marriage dissolving and related issues, it is known as an uncontested divorce. In these cases, divorcing spouses will typically execute a separation agreement, which is an enforceable contract that outlines your specific rights and obligations arising out of the end of the marriage. The issues you negotiate in a separation agreement are usually the same issues you would otherwise determine through court such as: 

  • Child custody and support 
  • Spousal support 
  • Division of assets 

We recommend working with a lawyer even during an uncontested divorce and negotiation of a separation agreement. The reason is to ensure you are making informed decisions about the terms of a separation agreement based on a proper understanding of your rights under the Divorce Act. Courts in Canada will rarely void the terms of a separation agreement unless it overwhelmingly contradicts principles of equity and fairness under Canada’s family law. 

Contested Divorces 

If you or your spouse disagree on how to resolve parts of your marriage, then a contested divorce may be necessary where you require determinations from the court.  Contested hearings before the court can be for any issue un dispute between the parties including things like child custody or spousal support. With contested divorces, our goal is to advocate for your position the best we can under your set of circumstances and the applicable law. 

Child Custody and Child Access 

As a father, one of your top priorities during a divorce will be its effect on your future relationship with your children. Parents will usually formalize their custody and care arrangements for their children through a court-approved parenting plan. The parenting plan outlines who will have physical and legal custody of the children within a calendar year. The different types of legal custody options for you and your child’s other parent include: 

  • Sole custody - one parent has all legal decision-making authority for the child.  
  • Split custody - each parent takes sole custody over at least one of the children.
  • Joint custody - each parent shares responsibility when it comes to making decisions that impact the care of their child.  

These forms of legal custody do not speak to the parenting time the child may have with the parents and only describe the legal decision-making authority for the child.

The different types of physical custody options for you and your child’s other parent include: 

  • Shared custody - parents split the physical custody of their child approximately 50/50.
  • Specified Parenting schedule – parents have parenting time with the child according to a specified schedule.
  • Primary Care – one parent has the child primarily in their care and the other parent has parenting time less than 40% of the time.

Courts will take a multi-factored approach when deciding how to rule on child custody or other child access/visitation orders. Some of the most important factors a court will likely consider when determining what is in the best interest of the child are listed in the Divorce Act as follows: 

16 (1) The court shall take into consideration only the best interests of the child of the marriage in making a parenting order or a contact order.

Primary consideration

(2) When considering the factors referred to in subsection (3), the court shall give primary consideration to the child’s physical, emotional and psychological safety, security and well-being.

Factors to be considered

(3) In determining the best interests of the child, the court shall consider all factors related to the circumstances of the child, including

(a) the child’s needs, given the child’s age and stage of development, such as the child’s need for stability;

(b) the nature and strength of the child’s relationship with each spouse, each of the child’s siblings and grandparents and any other person who plays an important role in the child’s life;

(c) each spouse’s willingness to support the development and maintenance of the child’s relationship with the other spouse;

(d) the history of care of the child;

(e) the child’s views and preferences, giving due weight to the child’s age and maturity, unless they cannot be ascertained;

(f) the child’s cultural, linguistic, religious and spiritual upbringing and heritage, including Indigenous upbringing and heritage;

(g) any plans for the child’s care;

(h) the ability and willingness of each person in respect of whom the order would apply to care for and meet the needs of the child;

(i) the ability and willingness of each person in respect of whom the order would apply to communicate and cooperate, in particular with one another, on matters affecting the child;

(j) any family violence and its impact on, among other things,

(i) the ability and willingness of any person who engaged in the family violence to care for and meet the needs of the child, and

(ii) the appropriateness of making an order that would require persons in respect of whom the order would apply to cooperate on issues affecting the child; and

(k) any civil or criminal proceeding, order, condition, or measure that is relevant to the safety, security and well-being of the child.

Factors relating to family violence

(4) In considering the impact of any family violence under paragraph (3)(j), the court shall take the following into account:

(a) the nature, seriousness and frequency of the family violence and when it occurred;

(b) whether there is a pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour in relation to a family member;

(c) whether the family violence is directed toward the child or whether the child is directly or indirectly exposed to the family violence;

(d) the physical, emotional and psychological harm or risk of harm to the child;

(e) any compromise to the safety of the child or other family member;

(f) whether the family violence causes the child or other family member to fear for their own safety or for that of another person;

(g) any steps taken by the person engaging in the family violence to prevent further family violence from occurring and improve their ability to care for and meet the needs of the child; and

(h) any other relevant factor.

Past conduct

(5) In determining what is in the best interests of the child, the court shall not take into consideration the past conduct of any person unless the conduct is relevant to the exercise of their parenting time, decision-making responsibility or contact with the child under a contact order.

Parenting time consistent with best interests of child

(6) In allocating parenting time, the court shall give effect to the principle that a child should have as much time with each spouse as is consistent with the child's best interests.

Parenting order and contact order

(7) In this section, a parenting order includes an interim parenting order and a variation order in respect of a parenting order, and a contact order includes an interim contact order and a variation order in respect of a contact order.

Child Support 

Depending on the child custody arrangement, you may need to pay child support to the spouse with custody/primary care or you may have a right to additional child support compensation from your former spouse. Canada has a child support table that courts rely on to calculate necessary amounts of support. The table considers the following factors for the paying spouse: 

  • The number of children they have 
  • Where the payor lives (i.e., what province or territory) 
  • Their gross annual income (i.e., before taxes)

Spousal Support 

Depending on the length and nature of your marriage, a court may find it proper to award you or your former spouse a monetary award for their future support. Canadian courts have broad authority to set spousal support for limited or indefinite periods and under any set of conditions the court finds necessary. In addition to the length of time you cohabitated with your spouse, the court may also consider, whether you have children, the functions you each performed in the marriage along with any other arrangements previously made. 

Division of Assets

Another issue you will likely have to resolve at the breakdown of a marriage is the division of assets and debts. Along with spousal support, this is often a contentious part of divorce because of the impact it may have on your future financial security. Generally, Canada’s family law assumes that the assets and property you acquired during marriage are owned equally, which requires a fair division during divorce. This rule is especially true for the matrimonial home. Asset division can become increasingly complex depending on the nature and value of your property such as business interests, investment accounts, inheritances, etc. 

Speak with An Experienced and Skilled Divorce Lawyer for Men

Divorce naturally comes with a wide possible range of emotions depending on the history of your marriage and related circumstances. We are proud to offer some of the best divorce lawyers for fathers who take the time to understand your concerns and provide effective counsel that meets your needs.

Consult with a divorce lawyer in your Canadian province or territory. 

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