Family Law 2024

Last Updated February 29, 2024


Law and Practice


McCarthy Hansen & Company LLP represents and advises clients on all areas of family law, including issues related to divorce, custody and access, spousal and child support, mobility matters, division of property, separation agreements, domestic contracts, religious marriage contracts, adoption, and cross-border family law issues. McCarthy Hansen & Company LLP frequently work on matters that involve the highly complex intersection of family law and other areas of law, including business, tax, trust and estate matters and criminal proceedings. The firm’s lawyers also represent children and parents in domestic and child protection matters. In addition to its deep bench strength and litigation expertise, McCarthy Hansen & Company LLP is regularly called on to provide advisory and planning assistance to other family offices to employ practical strategies for risk mitigation and long-term planning. The firm is also frequently called on by family law counsel in other jurisdictions to provide opinions as to the impact of Canadian law in international proceedings.

The most common ground for divorce is a separation that lasts for a period of 12 months with no prospect of reconciliation. Canada still has two “fault” grounds (cruelty and adultery) but they are rarely ‒ if ever ‒ used. The same grounds apply to same-sex spouses.

A divorce may be granted by the court after the parties have lived separately and apart with no reasonable prospect of reconciliation for a period of no less than 12 months. The 12-month period starts on the date of separation, which is a finding of fact. There is no requirement that the parties obtain a court order or court finding of the date of separation, although in some cases a finding may be required if the parties cannot agree on the date of separation.

Consent is not required to apply for a divorce. One or both parties can apply to the court for a divorce. The unwinding of the parties’ financial affairs and any child-related issues are corollary relief to the application for divorce. Service is personal on the responding party even if the divorce is uncontested.

Canadian courts deal only with the severing of the legal marriage and the corollary issues of separation and divorce. Ontario courts may remove a religious barrier to marriage if certain criteria are met.


Annulment is available in Canada in limited circumstances related to a defect in the formality of the marriage. In practice, it is rare. An annulment can be ordered if a marriage lacks the formal validity requirements, such as proper registration for the marriage. An annulment can also be ordered if a marriage lacks essential validity requirements. For example, a marriage wherein one party did not understand the nature of the duties or responsibilities that flowed from a contract may be annulled on that basis.

A spouse may only obtain a divorce in Canada if they, as the moving party, have lived in the jurisdiction for a period of no less than 12 months. The divorce is the severing of the legal marriage only. There are four primary areas of corollary relief that have different jurisdiction requirements, as follows.

  • Division of property – only married parties are able to make claims for statutory division of property. The court will take jurisdiction over division of property if the jurisdiction is the last common habitual residence of the parties as married spouses. Unmarried parties have equitable claims available to them that also require them to be habitually resident in the jurisdiction in order to make a claim to the courts.
  • Children’s issues – jurisdiction lies with the court where the child habitually resides at the time the application is commenced. In some circumstances, there may be concurrent jurisdiction; in which case, the court will consider the question of preferred forum in determining the appropriate jurisdiction.
  • Child support ‒ a parent can move for child support in the province where the child habitually resides, regardless of whether that jurisdiction was ever a common habitual residence for the parents.
  • Spousal support ‒ a spouse (married or common law) may move for spousal support in the jurisdiction where the spouses last shared a common habitual residence. There is some ambiguity about whether provinces will assume jurisdiction for spousal support claims if the parties did not commonly reside in the jurisdiction prior to the commencement of the application.

In cases where both spouses reside in a foreign jurisdiction for at least one year prior to the time of the divorce application, and that jurisdiction does not recognise the validity of their marriage, the court in the province where the spouses were married may grant a divorce in accordance with Section 4-13 of the Civil Marriage Act. However, given that the Divorce Act does not apply in circumstances where a Canadian court grants a divorce for foreign spouses, the court does not have jurisdiction to adjudicate any support or custody claims.

Any person may make a claim for a divorce and/or corollary relief regardless of their nationality and/or religion. Where the parties reside (ie, their domicile) impacts where they are able to commence a court application.

Contesting Jurisdiction and Staying Proceedings

A party can contest jurisdiction based on the following factors:

  • the commencement of a concurrent and/or earlier proceeding in another jurisdiction;
  • the absence of habitual residence in the case of divorce and division of property;
  • whether the parties have previously contracted into another jurisdiction and/or private dispute resolution (arbitration); and/or
  • where there is a child under the Divorce Act, there is an opposed parenting/decision-making application and the child is “most substantially connected” to another jurisdiction.

The court may decline jurisdiction and/or stay the Canadian proceeding if a foreign jurisdiction has already taken jurisdiction. In declining or staying the Canadian proceeding, the court will consider whether the foreign court has jurisdiction over the proceeding. A province will have jurisdiction over a divorce if either spouse has been habitually resident in the province for at least one year immediately prior to the commencement of the divorce proceeding.

If a party wants to pursue divorce in a foreign jurisdiction, they must demonstrate that the foreign jurisdiction is the more convenient forum. Among the factors that a court will look to in determining if a foreign jurisdiction is more convenient are the geographical location of the parties and/or whether one spouse would be deprived of a juridical advantage in the foreign jurisdiction.

As regards the grounds for jurisdiction and the possibility of contesting jurisdiction and/or staying proceedings in financial proceedings, please refer to 1.2 Choice of Jurisdiction.

Pursuant to the Federal Divorce Act, Canadian courts do not have jurisdiction to hear and determine a corollary relief proceeding following a valid foreign divorce. Provincial courts may have jurisdiction to determine child support and property claims that have not been dealt with in the foreign proceeding.

Financial claims are commenced under provincial jurisdiction, most commonly by way of application to the relevant provincial Superior Court of Justice. Most financial claims are corollary to the divorce proceeding and, as such, service is personal or admitted through counsel in the case that the party has representation.

There are no statutory timelines for parties dealing with financial proceedings. Regardless of whether the matter is negotiated or litigated, all cases start with the exchange of financial disclosure – a process that almost always informs the pace of the negotiation and/or the litigation. The case law requires the asset-holding party to provide a value and supporting documentation for the asset(s) in question. The form and extent of disclosure depends on the nature and complexity of the assets. In some cases, particularly in high net worth matters, one or both parties may need to obtain the assistance of an arm’s length expert to provide an opinion of value with regard to various assets ‒ a process that can be time consuming and expensive.

Division of property is governed by provincial legislation and is individual to each province. Generally speaking, the statutory right to division of assets (which is available only to married couples) is intended to provide an equal division of the value of all assets acquired during the course of the marriage, not a redistribution of title and/or ownership.

The question of value is a determination based on fact, rather than statutory definition. Value is calculated on a net basis, which can include actual liabilities and/or disposition costs and potential notional disposition costs or discounts. An example of this is when a minority discount is applied (in some circumstances) when a shareholder is in a non-control, minority position in the corporation and the value of their interest should be discounted based on liquidity and/or ability to dispose of the interest.

Financial Orders

In all Canadian provinces, the statutory scheme focuses on title, meaning that marriage does not create an ownership interest in the other spouse’s assets (equitable or otherwise) and only in the case of equitable relief can a spouse obtain an equitable ownership interest in an asset. In some extreme cases, a party may obtain relief to have an asset transferred to them or to compel the sale of an asset to satisfy a payment – although this is the exception, not the rule.

The courts have jurisdiction in exceptional cases to transfer assets from one spouse to the other either:

  • in order to secure a present or future support obligation (security for support); or
  • as a remedy for oppressive conduct in cases where a spouse is also a shareholder to a corporation.

As in non-matrimonial cases, in exceptional circumstances the court can also seize and/or freeze assets to protect against depletion and potentially to enforce an outstanding order.

Disclosure Process

Canadian courts have described the failure to provide proper disclosure as the “cancer of matrimonial litigation”. Canadian jurisprudence dealing with the positive duty of a spouse to provide full and frank disclosure is robust and far-reaching. If a party resists disclosure that is relevant and ought to be produced, the court can restrict the party’s ability to participate in the proceeding and make orders in their absence, impose monetary and/or non-monetary penalties until compliance, and – in extreme cases ‒ make a finding of contempt.

An asset-holding party has the positive obligation to disclose all worldwide assets and provide a value for the disclosed assets. In the case of complex assets, this may include an obligation to provide an expert opinion on the question of value. Once disclosure (including the value) is provided, it is open to the responding spouse to request further disclosure and/or obtain their own expert opinion with regard to the value.

Sometimes the required information to value a spouse’s asset (or interest in an asset) requires production from third parties. The burden on who moves against the third party depends on the nature of the requested disclosure.

If an asset-holding party is not able to obtain the required supporting documentation to value the asset, they may have an obligation to obtain a court order requiring third parties to release the necessary information to determine value. An example of this would be if the asset holder is a minority shareholder in a privately held corporation and does not have a right of access to the working papers of the corporation. In this case, the spouse would have a positive obligation to move before the court as against the corporation to obtain the disclosure.

If a responding spouse is not satisfied with the disclosure provided and wishes to pursue further or other disclosure, they are also free to ask the court to compel the asset-holding spouse (or third parties) to produce additional information.


A spouse’s interest in a trust may be an asset that is valued and then equalised by the courts. Determining value of an interest in a trust is a fact-finding exercise. The court will examine the following questions.

  • What position does the spouse have in relation to the trust? Are they the settlor, a trustee or a beneficiary?
  • If the spouse is a trustee, do they have the power to remove other trustees at their discretion?
  • Is the spouse a trustee and a beneficiary?
  • If the spouse or a related entity owned by the spouse is a beneficiary, have there been distributions to beneficiaries over the lifespan of the trust?
  • How did the spouse obtain their interest in the trust? In many jurisdictions in Canada, if the spouse obtained their interest by way of gift or inheritance, it may be excluded from the calculation of their net family property ‒ regardless of the nature of their interest.

Equitable trusts arising from unjust enrichment are remedies available both as a matter of common law and, in some jurisdictions, by statute. In addition to the traditional equitable remedies of resulting and constructive trust, the Supreme Court of Canada has expanded the reach of equitable claims and created a common law finding of Joint Family Venture (JFV). A JFV finding allows the court to expand the reach of traditional trust remedies when the nature and dynamic of the spouse’s contribution is not specifically tied to an identified asset. A finding of JFV requires the parties to have engaged in a joint economic enterprise. The determination involves many of the traditional considerations for a constructive trust remedy but, again, relieves the trier of fact of the obligation to attach those contributions to a specific asset. This has been an important development for non-married spouses.

Generally, trust claims (including a JFV finding) are available only to non-married spouses. However, the case law has not closed off certain circumstances whereby a married spouse may also have a trust claim, including a JFV.

Canada has a robust and well-developed body of jurisprudence related to spousal support. In addition to extensive case law, the courts rely on the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (SSAGs), which is a set of rules and guidelines for how to fashion an appropriate support order.

Spousal support is available to spouses on an interim and final basis. On an interim basis the court is not required to determine a precise amount and will, in most circumstances, fashion an interim order that is intended as a holding pattern until final resolution. The court also has jurisdiction to order partial lump or uncharacterised advances on an interim basis.

Grounds for Spousal Support

Entitlement to spousal support is based on compensatory and non-compensatory grounds.

Compensatory support is payable when a spouse has made direct or indirect contributions to the marriage and/or the economic success of the other spouse and suffered an economic loss as a result of those contributions. A spouse will have a strong compensatory claim if they have sacrificed a job or career trajectory for the family, most commonly for childcare or the advancement of the other spouse’s career. Strong compensatory claims also exist in traditional marriages where one spouse works outside the home and the non-income-earning spouse works inside the home.

Non-compensatory support is payable when a spouse has suffered economic disadvantage arising from the marriage breakdown. This most commonly occurs in shorter-term marriages where a lower-income-earning spouse will suffer economic loss or hardship arising from the physical separation. By way of example, the lower-income-earning spouse may experience job disruption or relocation costs arising from the marriage breakdown.

Most spousal support claims have blended entitlement, meaning they are a combination of compensatory and non-compensatory support.

Determination of Duration and Quantum of Support

The nature of a compensatory claim can inform both the duration and quantum of support. The stronger the compensatory claim, the more likely that duration will be longer and the amount will be higher.

The court can order spousal support on a monthly or lump sum basis. Although lump sum spousal support is exceptional, it may be appropriate in cases where income is uncertain and/or a lump sum more appropriately compensates a recipient spouse. Lump sum spousal support may also be appropriate if there are concerns about the payor’s ability to service monthly support in a reliable way. If spousal support is ordered on a monthly (sometimes called “periodic”) basis, the payments can be ordered with or without a termination date or with a structured review.

Aside from the nature of the compensatory claim, the quantum of spousal support is determined based on:

  • the ages of the parties at the time of separation;
  • the length of the marriage;
  • the parties’ respective incomes (actual or imputed);
  • the means, needs and circumstances of the parties ‒ this basket consideration may include the capital base of either party, other financial obligations, and the budget of recipient spouse.

Duration of support is largely governed by the length of the marriage and the ages of the parties at the time of separation. Generally, a support obligation will not be less in duration than the length of the relationship. Importantly, duration for spousal support is determined by the length of the relationship, which can include cohabitation prior to the date of marriage if the parties are married.

Cohabitation does not require physical residence. There are cases in Canada where a party has established a sufficient level of economic integration and dependency during the course of a relationship for a support obligation to be imposed even though the parties did not physically live together during the relationship.

Domestic contracts can be entered into between married and unmarried spouses alike. In most provinces and territories, the validity and enforceability of domestic contracts are governed by both statute and case law. Domestic contracts can take the following forms.

  • Cohabitation agreements ‒ entered into between unmarried parties most commonly to restrict or modify spousal support entitlements and/or restrict equitable claims related to property. Cohabitation agreements can become marriage contracts in the event of marriage if the parties contract as such.
  • Marriage contracts ‒ entered into either during or in contemplation of marriage. Marriage contracts most commonly restrict or modify a married spouse’s right to the statutory framework for equalisation of property between spouses and/or restrict or modify spousal support entitlements.
  • Separation agreements ‒ entered into between married and unmarried spouses to resolve the issues arising from the breakdown of their marriage or relationship.

Generally, courts will enforce valid and enforceable domestic contracts that do not give rise to unconscionable circumstances.

Validity of Domestic Contracts

Validity is governed primarily by statute in the relevant province. Validity is concerned primarily with the formal requirements of establishing the existence of the contract. In Ontario, for example, validity requires that the domestic contract be in writing, signed by both parties, witnessed, and dated.

Enforceability of Domestic Contracts

Enforceability, by contrast, concerns itself with whether the circumstances of entering into the contract were appropriate and with the fairness of the contract. The threshold requirements for the enforceability of all domestic contracts are threefold, as follows.


Duress is addressed extensively in the case law. Broadly understood, duress will be found when a spouse felt ‒ at the time of execution or in the time leading up to the execution ‒ that they had no choice but to enter into the contract and that the duress was impressed on them by the acts or words of the other contracting spouse. External stress, discomfort or stressful circumstances do not rise to the level of duress necessary to set aside a domestic contract that was otherwise validly entered into.

Financial disclosure

The complete absence of disclosure leading up to the execution of a domestic contract is almost always a basis for setting aside a domestic contract. More often, however, there is a question about the sufficiency of the disclosure provided. A material misrepresentation or omission, whether intentional or inadvertent, will likely be considered a basis for setting aside an agreement. For a misrepresentation or omission to be material, it must directly connect to the substantive content of the contract and will depend on the facts of the case.

Independent legal advice

The absence of independent legal advice does not automatically result in a contract being unenforceable, but the presence of independent legal advice is a powerful indicator that the contract should be enforced. A certificate confirming independent legal advice was given is commonly attached as a schedule to domestic contracts to confirm the nature and extent of the legal advice given. The presence of independent legal advice leading up to and during the execution of the agreement is often, but not always, a mitigating factor against a duress allegation. Independent legal advice may not be sufficient if there was an absence of full financial disclosure. Put another way, the presence of independent legal advice may be useless if the lawyer did not have appropriate disclosure in order to administer the appropriate advice.

Unconscionable Circumstances

In addition to the above-mentioned criteria, the court has jurisdiction to set aside all or part of a domestic contract if the contract results in an unconscionable circumstances. The lead case in respect of this analysis comes from the Supreme Court of Canada in Miglin v Miglin (2003).

One example of unconscionable circumstances would be if the parties entered into a domestic contract containing a full spousal support release and then were subsequently married for 45 years in a traditional marriage. In this case, the court may set aside the spousal support release because the outcome of the contract is inconsistent with the terms and entitlement that the spouse would have otherwise received without the contract. Given the severity of the circumstances in this case, a court would likely set the spousal support release aside because its results would be unconscionable and/or inconsistent with the intentions of the parties at the time that the contract was signed.

In Ontario, Alberta, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Quebec, unmarried spouses have no automatic right nor statutory right to share in their partner’s property unless they hold legal title to the property. In these jurisdictions, unmarried spouses’ property rights are limited to common law rights and equitable claims (ie, claims that anyone may advance). The Supreme Court of Canada in Walsh v Bona (2002) confirmed that the different treatment of married and unmarried spouses when it came to property rights arising from their relationships was not discriminatory under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Conversely, in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, unmarried couples who are living together in a conjugal relationship have statutory property rights and are entitled to equally share in property acquired during their relationship.

The contributions of the spouse to the home (including contributions to childcare) and the length of the relationship are factors that the court will considering when assessing both the finding of unjust enrichment and in fashioning a monetary or non-monetary remedy.

Enforcement falls under provincial jurisdiction and varies from province to province. A spouse has a combination of institutional enforcement and enforcement through the courts.

An example of institutional enforcement can be found in the province of Ontario. There, the Family Responsibility Office enforces support obligations using tools such as garnishment, seizing of driver’s licence and/or passports, and ‒ in some cases ‒ incarceration.

Court-ordered enforcement can include penalties for non-compliance, contempt findings, and writs of seizure and sale. A party that fails to comply with a financial order may also be responsible for the moving party’s costs.

Enforcement of International Orders

Enforcement of international orders is governed either by treaty or common law. All provinces and territories except Quebec have reciprocal support arrangements with some countries and territories, such as the USA. However, Quebec has arrangements with a number of states, including California, Maine and Florida. Canada also has reciprocal support arrangements with Africa, Asia, Caribbean, Europe and the South Pacific.

For instance, Canada is a signatory to the Hague Convention of 23 November 2007 on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance (the “2007 Hague Convention”). The 2007 Hague Convention is an international system for the cross-border recovery of child support and other forms of family maintenance. Some provinces, including Ontario and Manitoba, have implemented the 2007 Hague Convention into a provincial act that provides the applicable procedures to enforce foreign child support orders. For the Ontario legislation, see Chapter 13 of the Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act 2002.

Canada enjoys freedom of expression protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This includes freedom of the press. In addition to freedom of expression, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects court openness as a procedural and substantive protection. In the absence of a sealing order, there is no restriction on the media’s ability to access court proceedings and report on the proceeding.

Canadian court proceedings are rarely televised except at the appellate level as a matter of custom. However, there is no constitutional prohibition.

Anonymising of proceedings is required by statute in child protection proceedings. Anonymisation is available by way of application in domestic child-related proceedings based on both statute and common law and, rarely, may be ordered in financial proceedings based on common law.

Parties are permitted by way of agreement to resolve their financial dispute outside of the court system. Parties must enter into a contract specifically agreeing to the form of dispute resolution and the terms of the process. In some provinces, there are statutory requirements to screen for domestic violence and to apply the law of the province in the private ADR process. Parties may contract into mediation only, mediation with focused arbitration on specific issues, or full arbitration on all issues.

There are no universal statutory obligations for parties to explore ADR methods. However, the case law in most provinces speaks to the positive obligation of parties to divert their dispute from the litigation process and attempt ADR in advance of litigation. That being said, many cases are not appropriate for ADR and counsel must consider the appropriate screening requirements before referring matters to private dispute resolution.

In the case of a settlement reached through negotiation and memorialised in a final agreement, the courts will generally enforce the agreement in the absence of a material defect. In cases where the parties properly enter into an arbitral process and a decision is made by the arbitrator, the court will treat such an award as valid and enforceable, provided that the award has not been successfully appealed, varied or set aside.

As regards the grounds for jurisdiction and the possibility of contesting jurisdiction and/or staying proceedings in  domestic child-related proceedings, please refer to 2.1 Choice of Jurisdiction.

Living/Contact Arrangements

In Canada, children have the right to have contact with their parents. As a result, either parent can apply to the court to request that a parenting schedule be ordered. This can be done as part of a divorce application, an application that considers support issues, or as a standalone application. Several factors must be considered when determining what the appropriate parenting schedule should be, but the court’s primary consideration is always what is in the best interests of that child.

Following the breakdown of a relationship or a marriage, the legal approach to determining questions of custody and parental responsibility is one that focuses on the best interests of the child. The court will give primary consideration to the child’s physical, emotional and psychological safety, security and well-being. The status quo is not the default position in determining what is in the best interests of the child, and by the same token, there is no presumption in favour of shared or equal parenting arrangements and/or decision-making responsibility regimes. The sole focus of the court is the best interests of the child in the specific factual context before it.

Child Maintenance

In Canada, child support is defined as the amount of financial support one parent must pay to the other parent to help support their child or children while in the care of the other parent. 

Canada’s Federal Child Support Guidelines are rules and tables for calculating the quantum of child support one parent must pay to the other parent. The quantum of child support that one (or each) parent is responsible for depends on several factors – among which are the division of parenting time, each parent’s yearly salary, and the needs of the child. The Federal Child Support Guidelines are designed to advance the best interests of children and to ensure that child support orders are fair, objective, and consistent across Canada, as well as straightforward and inexpensive to review on an annual basis. To calculate the support owing in any given year, the Federal Child Support Guidelines mandate that parents provide certain financial information to one other on request. Child support orders based on the Federal Child Support Guidelines are enforceable across Canada.

In cases where the parties can reach an agreement on child support issues, there is no requirement that the agreement be presented to the court. In these circumstances (ie, where there is no court involvement), the parties can reach agreements that do not necessarily follow the Federal Child Support Guidelines. However, if the parties were married and seek a divorce order, then the child support arrangements will be scrutinised by the court and the court will not grant the divorce until it is satisfied that the children have been appropriately provided for. Usually this requires compliance with the Federal Child Support Guidelines, although there are exceptions where special arrangements have been made that benefit the children.

In Canada, courts routinely make orders in relation to child support. Typically, there is no time limit or fixed duration set with regard to such orders at first instance. Rather, child support will end for a child when that child ceases to be a child entitled to support, as that term is defined by the common law in the relevant jurisdiction. This can happen as a result of various circumstances, which include but are not limited to:

  • a child no longer lives with the parents;
  • a child becomes self-supporting;
  • a child turns 18 years of age, unless unable to become self-supporting owing to illness, disability or other reasons;
  • a child obtains one post-secondary degree or diploma;
  • a child marries;
  • a child dies; or
  • a party dies, provided appropriate security is in place at the time of death.

Under the Federal Divorce Act, only spouses are able to bring an application for child support. However, under provincial legislation there are limited circumstances in which a child may bring their own child support application. Typically, this requires a child who is under the age of 18 (or who has not yet completed high school) to demonstrate that they have not voluntarily withdrawn from parental control – see, for example, Letourneau v Haskell (1979) and G(O) v G(R) (2017).

With limited exceptions, courts do not have the power to make orders that dictate the upbringing of a child. Decision-making responsibility is the right of a person to make decisions about the child. In a situation where parents have diverging views on a specific issue relating to the child, it is the court’s role to determine which parent is best equipped to make the determination of what is in the child’s best interests. Thereafter, it is up to the parent who has been granted decision-making responsibility to exercise that responsibility in a manner that is consistent with the best interests of the child.

Parental Alienation

Parental alienation is a serious issue, which first started to be identified by Ontario courts in the 1990s and has become an increasingly prevalent concept in Canadian family law cases. It is premised on one parent choosing to damage the character of their spouse and this, in turn, damaging the child’s relationship with the “rejected” parent. Although there is no one approach taken by courts in evaluating alienation, courts tend to focus on the harmful impact alienation has on the alienated children.

The courts have generally relied on the wide plethora of social science literature to guide their analysis of whether one party is exemplifying alienating behaviour and whether children are exhibiting indicia of exposure to alienating conduct by a parent. The court will look to a variety of behavioural cues from both the alienating parent and the alienated child as indicators of the presence of parental alienation, serving as predictors of future conflict and relationship dysfunction. Some factors that the court will consider include (but are not limited to):

  • a parent making derogatory statements about the other parent;
  • a parent including the children in the litigation;
  • a parent making the child feel guilty about spending time with the other parent; and
  • a parent falsifying allegations about emotional, physical and sexual abuse.

The court will then look for a corresponding irrational and unfounded rejection of the alienated parent.

The remedies order in a finding of alienation have included parental educational programmes, reconciliation therapy, and changes to custody arrangements. See MM(V) v CMV (2017) for an overview of alienation literature.

Views of the Child

The child’s perspective, views and preferences are important factors for the court to consider in parenting cases. Although children are able to testify, it is widely accepted that it is harmful and not in the best interests of children to be brought into the courtroom. This reality must be balanced by the principle that children have a right to have their views heard on matters that concern them, as articulated under Article 12 of the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child 1989 (to which Canada is a signatory).

In order to protect children from the conflict between the parties, some provinces will order that judicial interviews take place. Frequently, provincial statute mandates that the interview be recorded and that the child be entitled to have counsel present during the interview. Depending on the province, courts may appoint a children’s lawyer representative to evaluate and represent the child’s wishes or interests within the litigation. Generally, the court is obliged to ‒ if possible ‒ take into consideration the views and preference of the child to the extent that the child is able to express them and the views are deemed sufficiently independent and reliable. Where applicable, the child’s views will be given weight proportionate to the child’s age and maturity, among other factors.

Parties can decide to use ADR at any point in their separation, including before starting any proceedings in court. The ADR process can be used to resolve all issues, no matter how big or how small. The parties can even choose to have all interim issues dealt with by ADR yet have the final issues resolved in the courtroom. The most common forms of ADR for family law disputes are mediation, arbitration, mediation-arbitration, and collaborative family law. Parties must voluntarily enter into such processes.

No ADR processes are mandated by the court in family law proceedings, although discussions and mediated resolutions are encouraged. The court does frequently refer family law litigants to publicly funded mediation services where the dispute is deemed appropriate for such a form of dispute resolution.

In order for agreements reached outside of court to be enforceable, they must be made in writing, signed by the parties, dated, and witnessed. A court may, on application, set aside a domestic contract or a provision in it if:

  • a party failed to disclose to the other significant assets (or significant debts or other liabilities) existing when the domestic contract was made;
  • a party did not understand the nature or consequences of the domestic contract; or
  • otherwise in accordance with the law of contract.

Currently, there are no requirements imposed by statute for parties to engage in ADR. However, in the recent amendments to the Divorce Act that came into effect on 1 March 2021, Parliament mandated that ‒ to the extent that it is appropriate to do so – the parties to a proceeding must try to resolve matters that may be the subject of an order under the Divorce Act through a family dispute resolution process. These new changes have imposed a duty on legal advisors to encourage clients to try to resolve issues through a family dispute resolution process unless it would be clearly inappropriate to do so.

In Ontario, the media and press are generally permitted to report on cases involving children (including family law matters), unless there are specific court orders or legal restrictions in place. In order to safeguard the confidentiality and well-being of minors involved in legal proceedings, courts may impose publication bans or other restrictions to limit the extent to which media can report on child-related cases.

When reporting on child protection hearings, it is prohibited to publish or publicly disclose information that reveals the identity of a child who is either a witness or involved in a hearing or is the focus of a legal proceeding, pursuant to Section 87(8) of the Child, Youth and Family Services Act 2017. This includes the child’s parent, foster parent, or family member.

Child Anonymity

As a result of Canada’s open court principle, children are not automatically anonymised in court proceedings in most Canadian provinces. Quebec is the only Canadian province that automatically anonymises the parties’ names with letters and a catalogue number.

In provinces other than Quebec, if a party to a proceeding wishes to anonymise any names within the proceeding, they are generally required to obtain a court order. Typically, the order is obtained by motion in a scheduling court or in writing before commencement of the proceedings.

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McCarthy Hansen & Company LLP represents and advises clients on all areas of family law, including issues related to divorce, custody and access, spousal and child support, mobility matters, division of property, separation agreements, domestic contracts, religious marriage contracts, adoption, and cross-border family law issues. McCarthy Hansen & Company LLP frequently work on matters that involve the highly complex intersection of family law and other areas of law, including business, tax, trust and estate matters and criminal proceedings. The firm’s lawyers also represent children and parents in domestic and child protection matters. In addition to its deep bench strength and litigation expertise, McCarthy Hansen & Company LLP is regularly called on to provide advisory and planning assistance to other family offices to employ practical strategies for risk mitigation and long-term planning. The firm is also frequently called on by family law counsel in other jurisdictions to provide opinions as to the impact of Canadian law in international proceedings.

Common Law Relationships in Canada – An Overview

Even though conjugal, unmarried relationships are increasingly common in Canada, many people do not realise the differing obligations and legal rights of married versus unmarried couples.

In some provinces in Canada, unmarried spouses have no automatic or statutory right to share in their partner’s property unless they hold legal title to the property. In Ontario, unmarried spouses’ property rights are limited to common law rights and equitable claims (ie, claims that anyone may advance). In other provinces, unmarried couples who are living together in a conjugal relationship have statutory property rights and can equally share in property acquired during their relationship.

The eligibility of unmarried spouses to spousal support also differs between provinces. Most Canadian provinces provide for a spouse’s eligibility to spousal support, regardless of whether they are in a married or unmarried relationship. However, how long the couple has cohabited before they separate may impact a spouse’s eligibility for support. By way of example, in some provinces, parties must have cohabited for two or three years or have cohabited in a relationship of some permanence and/or have a child to be eligible for spousal support.

Unmarried spouses have no recourse or remedies under the Federal Divorce Act. This is available only to married spouses and takes priority over any claims under the provincial or territorial legislations. The law as regards unmarried spousal rights is inherently uncertain ‒ in part, because many Canadian jurisdictions rely almost exclusively on common law principles over statutory direction. 

One important and evolving area of law in Canada concerns how increasing recognition of intimate partner violence and coercive control in intimate relationships informs our understanding of how and whether parties are able to freely contract, particularly when they are entering into full and final releases of their respective rights (and even more so when those releases contract out of potential future equitable claims). 

What is cohabitation?

All jurisdictions in Canada have comparable definitions of cohabitation. That being said, the issue is at times one of ambiguity and confusion in the case law.

Fortunately, in the 2020 Ontario Court of Appeal decision of Climans v Latner, the court provided more direction. The court determined that parties in a long-term romantic relationship who never marry, who do not have children together, and who choose to maintain separate homes rather than live together are more likely than not in a conjugal relationship because of the time they spent together.

In Climans v Latner, the couple dated for 14 years. They were each previously separated and had children from their prior relationships. Although Mr Latner proposed marriage and Ms Climans accepted, the parties never married. They introduced each other to their respective children and the parties celebrated special occasions together with the children. However, there was no melding of their children into one family. The parties vacationed frequently together. They spent their summers at Mr Latner’s cottage and winters in Florida, with Mr Latner paying all expenses. They also attended extended family functions together, went out socially, and presented themselves as a couple. 

The parties never merged their finances, instead maintaining separate bank accounts, and they had no joint accounts or property. Each party always maintained his and her separate residence.

Early in their relationship, Ms Climans quit her job so that she could be available to run errands for Mr Latner, travel with him, and spend time with him. He provided her with a monthly allowance for her expenses. Soon after, he started covering Ms Climans’ home expenses and gave her a credit card for other expenses. Later, he paid off the mortgage on her home and paid for her home renovations. He gave her expensive gifts of jewellery and fur coats, cars to drive, and extravagant holidays. He was also extremely generous towards her children, paying for many of their expenses.

When the parties separated, Ms Climans sought spousal support. As the parties’ relationship had lasted longer than three years, yet they were never married, the trial judge’s analysis focused on whether the parties had “cohabited” in a “conjugal” relationship. 

The trial judge considered many aspects of the couple’s relationship, and found they were in a long-term committed union. The trial judge relied on the generally accepted characteristics of a conjugal relationship as affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada in (M(K) v M(H). The non-exhaustive list of criteria includes the following, which are recognised to be present in varying degrees and are not all necessary for the relationship to be found to be conjugal. 

  • Shelter 
    1. Did the parties live under the same roof?
    2. What were the sleeping arrangements?
    3. Did anyone else occupy or share the available accommodation?
  • Sexual and personal behaviour
    1. Did the parties have sexual relations? If not, why not?
    2. Did they maintain an attitude of fidelity to each other?
    3. What were their feelings toward each other?
    4. Did they communicate on a personal level?
    5. Did they eat their meals together?
    6. What, if anything, did they do to assist each other with problems or during illness?
    7. Did they buy gifts for each other on special occasions?
  • Services
    1. What was the conduct and habit of the parties in relation to:
      1. preparation of meals;
      2. washing and mending clothes;
      3. shopping;
      4. household maintenance; and
      5. any other domestic services? 
  • Social
    1. Did they participate together or separately in neighbourhood and community activities?
    2. What was the relationship and conduct of each of them toward members of their respective families and how did such families behave towards the parties?
  • Societal
    1. What was the attitude and conduct of the community toward each of them and as a couple?
  • Economic support
    1. What were the financial arrangements between the parties regarding the provision of or contribution toward the necessaries of life (food, clothing, shelter, recreation, etc)?
    2. What were the arrangements concerning the acquisition and ownership of property?
    3. Was there any special financial arrangement between them that both agreed would be determinant of their overall relationship?
  • Children
    1. What was the attitude and conduct of the parties concerning children?

After much reflection – and noting there was no “bright line rule” – the trial judge ultimately concluded that the couple’s extended time together at the cottage and regular periods of part-time living together in Toronto and Florida qualified them as cohabiting for the purposes of the Family Law Act. The trial judge awarded spousal support to Ms Climans.

On appeal, the Ontario Court of Appeal affirmed the trial judge’s findings. The Court of Appeal clarified that the concepts of “cohabitation” and “conjugal relationship” are overlapping and interwoven but remain separate concepts. Cohabitation requires the parties to have lived together and that they did so in a conjugal relationship. However, a lack of shared residence is not determinative of the issue of cohabitation. As the trial judge’s review of the case law demonstrated, there are many instances where the courts have found cohabitation where the parties resided together only intermittently.

There are many fact-driven characteristics to consider when determining whether unmarried spouses are cohabiting such that the spouses acquire rights and/or obligations under the Family Law Act. What appears to be important to the courts in determining whether parties are cohabiting is whether there are other indicia of a committed intimate relationship.

To provide certainty to their relationship and their rights and obligations that may arise on the breakdown of that relationship, many couples may wish to enter into a domestic contract.

What is a cohabitation agreement?

A cohabitation agreement is a domestic contract under Section 53 of the Family Law Act. Any couple who is living together or intends to live together with no immediate plans to marry can enter into an agreement that sets out their respective rights and obligations during their cohabitation, in the event of a breakdown of their relationship or on the death of either party. This agreement is called a “cohabitation agreement”.

A cohabitation agreement is the only legal device available to couples who cohabit or intend to cohabit or marry that is designed to ensure a different result than that would otherwise flow from the relationship and its breakdown pursuant to the Family Law Act and/or common law principles.

A cohabitation agreement becomes legally binding on the couple once it is in writing, dated and signed by both parties, and witnessed. Financial disclosure is also a keystone of a binding agreement. If unmarried parties ultimately marry, their cohabitation agreement becomes a marriage contract by default upon marriage unless there is explicit language in the cohabitation agreement stating otherwise.

As every couple has different goals and priorities for their relationship, the cohabitation agreement can be tailored to any given couple’s unique circumstances by setting out expectations regarding ownership in or division of property, spousal support, and educational plans for children. For unmarried couples who fall outside the statutory property regime applicable to married spouses, their rights to property are limited to common law rights and claims which may be advanced under the doctrines of equity, such as constructive trust and resulting trust claims (see the Supreme Court of Canada’s 2011 decision in Kerr v Baranow).

A cohabitation agreement can provide certainty to unmarried couples as to how their assets and liabilities will be treated during their cohabitation in the event of a breakdown of the relationship or even on death. Property provisions in a cohabitation agreement may clarify expectations with regard to a family home, particularly in situations where one spouse owned the home prior to the relationship, where one spouse paid a disproportionate amount of the down payment on the home – or pays a disproportionate amount towards any registered encumbrances – or where one spouse is the legal title owner of the home. By way of example, if the home is in one spouse’s name but the other spouse provides financial contribution (eg, payment towards the mortgage, utilities or other household expenses), the spouses should determine in the cohabitation agreement whether the financial contributions entitle the non-title spouse to compensation and/or an interest in the home. The non-title spouse has no automatic or statutory right to the home – although the non-title spouse may have common law or equitable claims. In addition, the spouses may wish to set out the non-title spouse’s right to live in the home; otherwise, only spouses holding legal title have that right (see Linda Silver Dranoff’s Every Canadian’s Guide to the Law, 4th edition).

Property provisions can also clarify and set expectations concerning a party’s business interests, trust interests, and other significant and valuable property. As unmarried spouses’ property rights are limited to common law and equitable claims, some couples may also wish to waive and/or release their right to advance claims under the equitable doctrines of constructive trust, resulting trust, and unjust enrichment.

As unmarried cohabiting parties may have rights and/or obligations to spousal support, some couples may wish to restrict their spousal support rights or obligations by placing limits on how much may be paid if the relationship breaks down or set out how income may be determined in order to calculate spousal support. Other couples may wish to include a mutual release of spousal support, so that – regardless of the parties’ circumstances – support is not owed, and others may wish to affirm that they intend to abide by the applicable support legislation if the relationship ends.

Courts, however, have cautioned against restrictions on and releases of spousal support in cohabitation agreements. The Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Hartshorne v Hartshorne illustrates the jurisprudential approach to cohabitation agreements, which has been summarised as follows: “A deal is a deal when it comes to property – support is another matter.” 

In essence, courts give broad deference to agreements made between unmarried parties, particularly when the agreement concerns property issues. Spousal support provisions, on the other hand, will be afforded less deference and subjected to stricter scrutiny.

Spousal support provisions of domestic contracts (including cohabitation agreements, marriage contracts and separation agreements) are subject to the Miglin analysis – ie, an assessment of whether the support provisions of an agreement fairly consider the financial means, needs or other circumstances of the parties at the time of the breakdown of the relationship. The Supreme Court of Canada articulated a two-step approach to the exercise of a court’s discretion in enforcing an agreement for spousal support in Miglin v Miglin. First, the court considers the circumstances of execution – considering the presence of oppression, pressure, or other vulnerabilities – and the substance of the agreement. Second, the court considers whether the agreement continues to correspond with the couple’s original intentions as to their relative positions and the overall objectives of the legislation. 

When there has been a significant change in circumstances from those contemplated by a couple in terms of the cohabitation agreement, courts are more willing to interfere with an agreement that does not provide adequate support to a spouse because of the circumstances at the time of relationship breakdown.

In addition to property and support considerations, cohabitation agreements may address the education and moral training of a couple’s children. A cohabitation agreement, however, cannot address the decision-making responsibility for children or how parenting time will be allocated if the relationship breaks down; those issues are determined according to the best interests of the child(ren) at the time of separation. Cohabitation agreements also cannot include terms that deviate from the child support legislation. Similarly, parents cannot contract out of the obligation to pay child support. The amount and duration of child support will be determined based on the family’s circumstances at the time of separation.

Setting aside cohabitation agreements

Courts have long recognised that agreements reached between spouses – particularly where both spouses have had independent legal advice – should be respected. There are circumstances, however, where the court will retain discretion and set aside domestic contracts. These circumstances include where there has been a material misrepresentation, undue influence, duress or unconscionable circumstances, inadequate financial disclosure, a power imbalance, or a lack of understanding between the parties when making the agreement.

As explained previously, the Family Law Act and the courts treat property and support provisions differently when considering whether to set aside those terms in cohabitation agreements. When dealing with property rights and waivers to common law and equitable property claims, relative fairness is irrelevant. Rather, as the Supreme Court of Canada articulates in Miglin v Miglin, the test is unconscionability. That said, there is a cultural shift occurring as the judiciary becomes more conscious of gender inequality and the impact and consequences of intimate partner violence, family violence and coercive control within spousal relationships, especially when negotiating domestic contracts (see the Supreme Court of Canada’s 2019 decision in Rick v Brandsema).

Inequitable equitable releases

Although spouses are free to arrange their own affairs in domestic contracts, the central objectives of the Family Law Act are to ensure equality between spouses as well as equitable outcomes. These objectives illuminate the role and the limits of domestic contracts under the Family Law Act. 

Until recently, legislation and jurisprudence essentially accepted and/or ignored the gender inequalities in spousal relationships that are deeply entrenched in Canadian society. As spouses, women were traditionally expected to keep the home, to raise the children, and to acquiesce to the rules and needs of their male partners. The acceptance and maintenance of these societal expectations and inequalities have historically rendered women economically dependent on their male partners. To the extent that a woman in a spousal relationship has financial means, these entrenched gendered inequalities operate to render her economic interests secondary to those of the family and her male spouse. Women’s vulnerability was recently highlighted by Justice Martin in Michel v Graydon, who recognised that “women have tended to suffer economic disadvantages and hardships from marriage or its breakdown because of the traditional division of labour within that institution”.

As a result of hard-fought equality efforts during the past few decades, family law legislation was re-designed to protect women’s economic interests on the breakdown of a marital relationship. Despite these improvements, spouses in unmarried relationships continue to exist in precarious, economically dependent positions following a relationship’s breakdown.

By way of example, as unmarried spouses do not have statutory property rights, their rights to property are limited to common law rights and equitable property claims. The Supreme Court of Canada in Walsh v Bona found that this distinction in treatment between married and unmarried spouses was not discriminatory and respected the fundamental personal autonomy and dignity of the individual. The court found that there is no deprivation of a benefit based on a stereotypical characteristic perpetuating the idea that unmarried couples are less worthy of respect or valued as members of Canadian society, as unmarried couples have choices and remedies available to them – for instance, they may choose to own property jointly and/or enter into a domestic contract that may be enforced pursuant to provincial legislation.

Although this differential treatment remains between married and unmarried spouses, the ongoing reality of women’s systemic inequality was recognised by the Supreme Court of Canada in Fraser v Canada (Attorney General), while revisiting its approach to Section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The court identified the flaws of over-emphasising “choice”, given that choices are themselves shaped by systemic inequality.

While the Family Law Act grants considerable latitude to couples to govern their affairs as they see fit, the Act was nevertheless intended to remedy and prevent women’s disadvantage following relationship breakdown. Freedom to contract, and the value of autonomy and self-determination, cannot be treated as the only objectives of the Family Law Act. Instead, cohabitation agreements that fundamentally fail to satisfy other important objectives of the Family Law Act (eg, equality of the spouses, fairness, and respect for contributions to the household and childcare) should not be enforced to disempower and disadvantage vulnerable spouses.

Allowing spouses, especially those in vulnerable situations, to entirely opt out of equitable claims will not always be appropriate. Doing so privileges “choice” over fairness, which in turn contributes to the systemic inequality that women face, contrary to the legislative purpose of the Family Law Act.

Equity operates to fill the gaps of a contractual relationship. An agreement represents a commitment between parties to bring about a state of affairs. While legal remedies such as damages contemplate the breach of an agreement, they do not address all possible wrongs as a contractual arrangement leaves open the potential for injustice. A spouse to a cohabitation agreement may take actions that divert a gain to themselves and away from the other spouse who was originally entitled to its benefits. Such an action may be consistent with the terms of the agreement yet result in an unfair outcome. This is where equity – constructive trusts, for example – fills the gap. Equity and equitable remedies provide both the backbone and the teeth to private law, achieving just outcomes where the enforcement of a contract alone cannot. Equity therefore operates to ensure remedies for injustice done in the context of a contract, but which occurs beyond its formal scope and contemplation.

In the larger picture of women’s systemic inequality in spousal relationships, permitting parties to contract out of equitable rights serves only to reinforce economic disadvantage and contributes to the feminisation of poverty. This is particularly true for waivers of equitable claims that may occur in the future; these are equitable claims for which circumstances have not even arisen and which are certainly beyond the specific contemplation of the parties.

It cannot be the case that the Family Law Act permits behaviour that entirely denies women’s access to equitable claims. Doing so risks removing the only protection that women in spousal relationships may have to mitigate their unique vulnerabilities to unjust domestic contracts in family law. Such a result is contrary to the interests of justice and the objectives of the Family Law Act. 

These concerns are more prevalent when compounded with elements of intimate partner violence, family violence, and control. Abused spouses often face financial, occupational, temporal and emotional disadvantages that warrant a renewed consideration of the pressures under which they are placed when negotiating and executing domestic contracts (see the Supreme Court of Canada’s 2019 commentary in Michel v Graydon). Recent changes to the Federal Divorce Act and corresponding provincial legislation recognise and demand that the impact of family violence is taken seriously.

Other areas of family law, such as domestic contract formation, need to incorporate the new understanding of the effects of domestic violence on victims’ choices. The psychological harms of domestic violence can affect a victim’s ability to make complex choices and to engage in legal services, particularly while experiencing continuing stress.

In 2023, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Malaviya v Dhir aptly noted: 

“Relationships are nuanced, complicated, and evolve over time. Our understanding of domestic violence has also evolved and is reflected in changes to legislation, including the Divorce Act, RSC, 1985, Chapter 3 (2nd Supp) and Children’s Law Reform Act, RSO, 1990, Chapter 12. We now understand that control is no longer just exerted with physical violence but also through the more insidious actions of coercive control. We no longer look to see if a party sustained physical injuries as corroboration of controlling behaviour or power imbalance in a relationship. Coercive control may include acts of emotional and psychological harm for which there may not be any objective evidence.”

Spouses who experience domestic violence often use coping strategies by minimising, denying and avoiding memories of their abuse. Victims find it difficult to disclose domestic violence; consequently, lawyers and service providers will not necessarily be made aware of the presence of domestic violence. Nonetheless, it is imperative that professionals understand how traumatic harm from domestic violence can affect victim choices, demeanour, and the information victims convey. Linda Neilson’s 2017 article entitled Responding to Domestic Violence in Family Law provides a comprehensive overview of how Canadian courts address domestic violence in family law cases.

To serve the interests of justice, and to promote substantive equality, the law of domestic contracts must recognise how the impact of coercive control intersects with gender, race, and social status. Coercive control frequently occurs at a higher degree for women who identify as a member of a racial and/or ethnic minority and who have a lower social status than their male partner. Coercive control compromises victims’ abilities to make decisions that serve their own interests. Fear of how the abuser will react, fear of losing the acceptance of their family, embarrassment and shame, and cultural stigmas – including intense pressures to maintain the family and ensure the success of the group/community – are reasons victims are compromised in their decision-making, including pressure to remain in abusive relationships. For more information, see Joanna Radbord and Deborah Sinclair’s article entitled In the Children’s Best Interest: Addressing Intimate Partner Violence in Parenting Cases.

In Malaviya v Dhir, the court considered the claims of intimate family violence and coercive control impacting the unmarried spouse’s choice, noting: 

“While a person may be sophisticated, highly educated, and professionally successful, that does not mean that their interpersonal relationships are impervious or immune from unhealthy and coercive dynamics. Specifically, the fact that Ms Dhir is clearly very intelligent and business-savvy does not preclude a finding that, in her relationship with Mr Malaviya, she was demeaned and emotionally controlled by Mr Malaviya to the point that she was unable to exert autonomy over her own decision-making process when the agreement was negotiated.”

The law continues to evolve in Canada with regard to this important issue. It remains to be seen how the question of intimate partner violence and the evolving language of coercive control impacts the legal landscape when it comes to full equitable releases in domestic contracts.

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Law and Practice


McCarthy Hansen & Company LLP represents and advises clients on all areas of family law, including issues related to divorce, custody and access, spousal and child support, mobility matters, division of property, separation agreements, domestic contracts, religious marriage contracts, adoption, and cross-border family law issues. McCarthy Hansen & Company LLP frequently work on matters that involve the highly complex intersection of family law and other areas of law, including business, tax, trust and estate matters and criminal proceedings. The firm’s lawyers also represent children and parents in domestic and child protection matters. In addition to its deep bench strength and litigation expertise, McCarthy Hansen & Company LLP is regularly called on to provide advisory and planning assistance to other family offices to employ practical strategies for risk mitigation and long-term planning. The firm is also frequently called on by family law counsel in other jurisdictions to provide opinions as to the impact of Canadian law in international proceedings.

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McCarthy Hansen & Company LLP represents and advises clients on all areas of family law, including issues related to divorce, custody and access, spousal and child support, mobility matters, division of property, separation agreements, domestic contracts, religious marriage contracts, adoption, and cross-border family law issues. McCarthy Hansen & Company LLP frequently work on matters that involve the highly complex intersection of family law and other areas of law, including business, tax, trust and estate matters and criminal proceedings. The firm’s lawyers also represent children and parents in domestic and child protection matters. In addition to its deep bench strength and litigation expertise, McCarthy Hansen & Company LLP is regularly called on to provide advisory and planning assistance to other family offices to employ practical strategies for risk mitigation and long-term planning. The firm is also frequently called on by family law counsel in other jurisdictions to provide opinions as to the impact of Canadian law in international proceedings.

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