Family Law

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Family Law

Family Law for the LGBTQ+ Community


Family Law Disputes

Family Arbitration

Divorce and Separation


Finding the best resolutions for your family with an experienced family lawyer in Ottawa

Our Family Lawyers know that family law issues can come up when you least expect them, and that they are often combined with emotional concerns. With our knowledge and experience we strive to make the legal process as straightforward as possible for you, ensuring that your interests are protected. Nelligan Law’s lawyers are at the forefront of developments in family law. We can help you address all of your family law issues using the best resolution process for your particular situation.

We can provide you with continuity of service by working as a cohesive unit. This means when you hire one of our family lawyers, you get the support of our entire team if and when it is needed. If your lawyer is away, another of our lawyers will be available to assist you. It also means that our legal services and fees will reflect the complexity of your issue. Members of our group have appeared before all levels of courts and tribunals, and have contributed to precedents that have helped Canadian family law evolve to meet today’s values.

The Virtual Family Law Project

Several of our Family Law lawyers are part of The Virtual Family Law Project. The Virtual Family Law Project is a group comprised of Senior Family Law Lawyers in Ottawa who bring their expertise in arbitration, mediation and court processes to permit families to continue to work towards resolution of their family law issues outside of the public court system, using remote technology.


For family law purposes, the separation of married or common law spouses occurs when at least one them knows for certain that the relationship has ended and there is no hope of reconciliation. It is not necessary that both spouses feel the same way, or that the spouse for whom the relationship is over explicitly informs the other spouse of his or her feelings. It is important, however, that the spouse for whom the relationship has ended behave consistently with this new reality, in case the date of separation becomes a contested point in resolving any property issues arising from the breakdown of the relationship.

Divorce for married spouses consists of a court Order dissolving their marriage. Most spouses resolve the parenting, property and support issues arising from their separation before obtaining a Divorce Order and, as a result, the ability to remarry is the most significant effect of divorce. As polygamous marriage is illegal in Canada, a newlywed who has been previously married must provide proof of his or her divorce by way of a Certificate of Divorce before a new marriage certificate can been issued.

If you have questions about divorce or separation, contact one of our experienced Family Law lawyers.

It is possible to be separated for family law purposes in Ontario while continuing to live under the same roof as your spouse.

Whether spouses have separated depends on whether at least one of them knows for certain that the relationship has ended and there is no hope of reconciliation. It is unnecessary for both spouses to feel the same way and, where they disagree, a court will consider several contextual factors to determine whether they were, in fact, separated at a given point in time. For example, the court will consider how the spouses behaved towards each other within and outside of the home; whether they participated together or separately in community activities; how they portrayed themselves to members of their families and their friends; how they arranged their finances; and how they conducted themselves towards their children, if any. Although living and sleeping arrangements are relevant in this analysis, they are not necessarily determinative. The spouses’ conduct towards each other both inside and outside of their home is often a stronger indication of whether they were separated on the contested date.

If you have questions about habitation and separation, contact one of our experienced Family Law lawyers.

Canada has a no-fault divorce system. The only ground for divorce is the breakdown of a marriage, which is normally established by showing that the spouses have lived separate and apart for at least one year. Either spouse can apply to the court for a divorce; the law does not require the consent of both spouses to grant a divorce. Spouses can also bring a joint application for divorce. Before granting a divorce, the court will ensure that there is no possibility of reconciliation between the spouses and that reasonable arrangements have been made for the support of any children of the marriage. If no arrangements are in place, or if the arrangements are inadequate, the court may delay the granting of a divorce until such arrangements are made. If the application before the court is only for a divorce, meaning there are no other claims being made, and the other spouse is not contesting the divorce, the process is usually paper-based. In most cases, there is no need for a hearing or actual attendance at court. If you have questions about obtaining a divorce, contact one of our experienced Family Law Lawyers.

The amount of child support payable is determined by looking at the Child Support Guidelines for the province in which the payor parent resides, or, if the payor parent resides outside of Canada, the province where the recipient parent resides. Child support is based on the number of children and the income of the payor parent.

Who a child lives with governs who pays support. Normally, the parent with whom the child lives with less than 40% of the time will pay support to the parent with whom the child lives with more than 60% of the time (regardless of who has a higher income). However, if the child spends approximately equal time with both parents, the support payable by each parent is calculated based on their respective incomes, and whoever has to pay the higher amount usually pays the other parent the difference.

In addition to regular monthly child support, section 7 of the Guidelines gives the court discretion to award extra payments for special and extraordinary expenses. These expenses are shared proportionally based on each parent’s income. Examples of these expenses include daycare, uncovered medical and dental expenses, and post-secondary education.

If you have any questions about the calculation of child support, contact one of our experienced Family Law lawyers.

Not necessarily. Child support is payable until a child reaches 18 years of age, but this obligation may continue if the child attends school on a full-time basis (usually until the end of their first post-secondary degree) or is unable for medical or other similar reasons to become financially independent. The question is one of dependency and is not strictly based on the age of the child.

The child support obligation may be interrupted if the child decides to temporarily interrupt his or her studies. The child support obligation will also be reduced in accordance with the child’s ability to contribute to his or her own needs by earning income from employment or by other means (such as scholarships) once he or she is over 18 years of age but still in full-time attendance at school.

In addition to regular monthly child support, section 7 of the Child Support Guidelines gives the court discretion to award extra payments on account of special and extraordinary expenses, which include post-secondary education. These expenses are shared proportionally based on each parent’s income, but an adult child will be expected to contribute to their section 7 expenses.

If you have questions about child support, contact one of our experienced Family Law lawyers.

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Our Team


Marta Siemiarczuk
Carol Craig
Erin Lepine
Christopher Deeble
Alice Weatherston
Jenna Preston
Ira Marcovitch
Rebekah Schultz

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