When a client thinks of hiring legal counsel to work on his or her behalf, thoughts of a lawyer in court objecting with conviction to everything said by the opposing party may come to mind. Hollywood movies such as The Rainmaker, A Few Good Men and many others would lead one to believe that this is “good advocacy.”
In reality, over 90% of cases in Ontario’s civil court system never make it to trial. This not only means that lawyers in Ontario have found ways to settle disputes outside of court, but it also means that lawyers across the province have suffered from a gradual decline in opportunities to be told by witnesses that they “can’t handle the truth.”
One of the tools often used to settle disputes out of court is mediation. Mediation is a consensual meeting between all of the interested parties in a dispute and a neutral third-party known as a “mediator.” The mediator is not a judge and has no power to ultimately decide or rule on the matter. Instead,
In Ontario there is a family property regime set out in the Family Law Act (FLA) which provides for the equal sharing of property accumulated by married parties during their marriage. Note, this provision does not apply to common-law spouses. What happens if, after the death of one married spouse, it is discovered that the deceased spouse has given all of his or her wealth to someone other than his or her surviving spouse?
Suppose Harold was married to Wendy for 42 years. After his death his last will and testament left most of his estate to his “close friend” Susan. Harold left Wendy $50,000.00. Wendy feels betrayed (especially if her will left everything to Harold). What can Wendy do?
In Ontario the FLA permits the surviving married spouse of the deceased to elect to take either under the will or to make a claim against the estate for an equalization of net family property (NFP) pursuant to Part I of the FLA.
Assuming Harold had a NFP greater than Wendy, Wendy may wish to