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In order to legally end your marriage you will need to apply to the Court for a Divorce. In Ontario, divorcing couples most commonly proceed by way of “no-fault” divorce, requiring spouses to be separated for a period of at least one year. Alternatively, a Divorce can also be sought on the grounds of adultery or cruelty. Proof of adultery or cruelty will need to be shown though, making Divorce on either of these grounds more complex as well as costly and often lengthier than waiting the one year period to proceed by way of a no-fault divorce.

Separation Agreements

A separation agreement is a contract that can be used to deal with the financial issues such as property division and support obligations, as well as the parenting issues such as custody and access, which arise upon the breakdown of a relationship. At Long Shariff & Associates, we encourage our clients to try and resolve their issues by way of a negotiated separation agreement, if appropriate, before commencing costly and lengthy litigation, however our experienced lawyers are prepared to fight for you in the courtroom if an agreement cannot be reached. The assistance of a lawyer will help ensure that your separation agreement is properly drafted, your rights are protected, and the agreement will hold up in court.

Common Law Separation

In Canada, common law couples are not entitled to the same rights as their married counterparts. In Ontario, to be considered as living in a common law relationship, couples must cohabit for a period of at least three years, or have a child together and be in a relationship of some permanence.

While Ontario’s laws regarding child custody, access, and support apply equally to married and common law couples, common law couples do not share the same rights as married spouses with respect to the division of property upon the breakdown of a relationship. In contrast to the equalization regime for married spouses set out in the Family Law Act, common law spouses do not have an automatic right to share equally in the increase in value of property accumulated during the relationship. Rather, each party retains property held in his or her own name, and any jointly owned property is typically shared equally. If one spouse has made a financial contribution to the other spouse’s property, he or she may be entitled to a share of said property by way of a constructive trust claim. Our experienced lawyers can help you navigate these complex issues to ensure your rights are protected.

Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce is appropriate where separating spouses are in agreement on all issues, including the division of property, support, custody and access, and only a divorce order and certificate of divorce are sought. Our firm can assist you in applying to the court for a divorce order obtaining your certificate of divorce. Parties to an uncontested divorce typically do not need to appear in court.

Child Custody and Access

Custody determines who will be responsible for making major decisions concerning the child’s health, education and religion, while access is the right to spend time with the child at a given time. Custody can be joint, sole, shared or split. The lawyers at Long Shariff & Associates can assist you in determining the best custody and access arrangement for your unique situation and are dedicated to working with you to minimize conflict and disruption to your child’s life as much as possible during this difficult time.

Child and Spousal Support

Both parents have a financial obligation to support their child or children. The parent with whom the child primarily resides is entitled to child support. The amount of child support payable is mandated by the Child Support Guidelines, based on the payor parent’s gross annual income and the number of dependent children. “Special” or “extraordinary” expenses, which are considered to fall outside the scope of basic guideline support, are payable in addition to guideline support.

Spousal support, which is governed by s.15 of the Divorce Act and s. 30 and s.33 of the Family Law Act, applies to both spousal and common law relationships. A number of factors are taken into consideration to determine whether an entitlement to spousal support exists and if so, the appropriate quantum and duration of support. These factors include: the length of the cohabitation or marriage, the parties’ respective incomes, the age and health of the parties, whether there are any dependent children, and any effect on earning capacity due to contributions made during the course of the relationship.

The lawyers at Long Shariff & Associates can help you understand your support obligations and assist you with your claim for support or with responding to a claim for support.

Family Responsibility Office

Ontario’s Family Responsibility Office (FRO) helps support recipients receive the support payments they are entitled to. FRO collects, distributes and enforces child support and spousal support payments that have been ordered by the court or agreed upon in a separation agreement. Parties can choose not to engage FRO’s services, however, FRO has special tools available to help ensure that payments are made. If a support payor is in arrears, FRO can garnish the payor’s wages, suspend the payor’s driver’s licence, or revoke his or her passport. Our firm can help you decide whether involving FRO is the right step in your particular situation.

Domestic Violence

Working in the area of family law, it is not uncommon to encounter clients who at some point in their lives have been victims of domestic violence. Domestic violence can take many forms, such as physical and sexual abuse, as well as verbal and emotional abuse. If you or your children are suffering from any form of abuse, contact the police immediately and speak with a lawyer about how to protect yourself and your children.

Cohabitation Agreements and Marriage Contracts

Couples are increasingly choosing to live together in a common law relationships rather than marrying. Since the property provisions of Ontario’s Family Law Act do not extend to common law couples, cohabitation agreements can provide a framework for how property is to be divided and whether spousal support will be paid in the event of a breakdown in the relationship.

Similarly, marriage contracts allow prospective spouses to set out their respective rights and responsibilities during the marriage and in the event of a separation, and are of use particularly where one party enters the marriage with significantly greater assets which he or she wishes to protect. If a cohabitation agreement is in place and a couple chooses to marry, the cohabitation agreement will become a marriage contract, or a new agreement can be signed.

Our lawyers can assist you in preparing a cohabitation agreement or marriage contract that is fair to both you and your partner and which will protect you in the event that your relationship ends.

Property Division

Ontario’s Family Law Act (FLA) sets out the regime for property division between spouses upon the breakdown of a marriage. Central to this regime is the calculation of each party’s “net family property” (NFP). NFP is the value of each party’s property on the date of separation, taking into account all assets and liabilities, and excluding property held by each party on the date of marriage, with the exception of the matrimonial home, which cannot be deducted from a party’s NFP. Once both parties’ NFP’s have been determined, the spouse with the greater NFP will owe the other spouse an “equalization payment” of one half the difference between the two NFPs. Our experienced lawyers can guide you through the equalization process and help you reach a fair and equitable resolution.

The property sharing provisions in Ontario’s Family Law Act do not apply to couples in common law relationships. Equalization only applies to married spouses, however common law spouses may have a right to property they have contributed to by way of a trust claim. The lawyers at Long Shariff & Associates can help you determine whether such a claim exists in your unique case.

Restraining Orders

If you or your children are experiencing abuse, whether physical or emotional, caused by your spouse or partner, or you have reasonable grounds to fear that you or your children are in danger, our firm can assist you with applying to the family court for a restraining order. A restraining order can retrain your spouse or partner from contacting you, from coming within a certain distance of you and your children, your home, your place of work, or the children’s school. If the terms of the restraining order are violated, your spouse or partner can be arrested by the police.


Mobility cases typically arise when the parent with whom the child primarily resides wishes to relocate to a different jurisdiction with the child. A parent’s right to be able to move with the child to a new jurisdiction is a commonly litigated issue, however the results of a mobility case are difficult to predict. What may be allowed in one case may be denied in another based on the best interests of each particular child given their unique situation. Our lawyers can help you understand your rights and will work hard to protect your relationship with your child.

Child Protection

Child protection services in Ontario are governed by the Child and Family Services Act and provided by children’s aid societies across the province. The children’s aid society may conduct an investigation where there are concerns about a child’s safety and the ability of parents or caregivers to care for a child. Where a child is found to be in need of protection, a court application may be commenced by the children’s aid society against the child’s parents or caregivers and the child may be removed from their care. If you have been approached by a child protection agency, our lawyers will work hard to protect your rights and your relationship with your child.


The Children’s Law Reform Act provides the framework for dealing with issues of paternity. At Long Shariff & Associates we understand that this is a delicate area of family law and will work hard to help you understand your rights and resolve your paternity issues.

Wills and Powers of Attorney

Preparing a will and powers of attorney is a very important consideration. Whatever stage of life you are at; these cornerstones of estate planning are relevant now.

These documents will look after your property, interests and health if you are no longer able to do so. The lawyers at Still McCalmont Long have been doing this type of work for decades and know how to advise you in order to create the best plan possible.

From the creation of these documents, storage of these documents, and ongoing management of your plans are all essential steps to looking after your interests. The lawyers at Still McCalmont Long are prepared to put your concerns at rest to create the documents that you and your family need.

Collaborative Law

Collaborative law is a revolutionary way of resolving matrimonial disputes in a respectful manner, without going to court.  Using the collaborative law method means that both parties are committing to resolving their dispute in a respectful, honest and open manner, with full disclosure and cooperation.  Collaborative law focuses on creative problem solving and mutually acceptable solutions.  It is premised around a commitment to exploring various options to come to a resolution without going to court and without the adversarial positioning of more traditional dispute mechanisms.

In a collaborative law case, both parties retain their own collaboratively trained lawyers.  The parties then enter into a participation agreement  which contains certain standard guidelines, including civility to each other, cooperation in producing necessary documents, working together in good faith and agreeing not to threaten court or go to court during the collaborative process.  There may also be agreement on using certain neutral experts such as parenting coaches if there are issues or disputes regarding the children or financial advisors if there are complex business or other financial issues.  The participation agreement also states that if either party seeks court intervention to resolve their issues, both parties must get new lawyers to represent them. The parties and their lawyers meet regularly to move matters forward productively and to resolve any pressing issues which may arise in a timely way.  At the end, the desired result is a signed Separation Agreement which represents a fair, and mutually acceptable resolution of the issues.

The benefits of collaborative law are numerous. First, by engaging in a non-adversarial, respectful process, this is far healthier and helps to maintain positive parenting and other familial relationships in the long run.  Furthermore, collaborative law tends to be far less costly then court; tends to result in far faster resolutions, and keeps lines of communication open on urgent or pressing issues so the parties and their lawyers can work together to find a creative and suitable solution to resolve them expeditiously.  By using collaborative law, people tend to walk away with an agreement that they each feel is fair and appropriate to their specific circumstances.  This is also a far less stressful way of resolving disputes than court, which can be lengthy, extremely expensive to all, and unpredictable.

Estate Litigation

Sometimes when a family member leaves a will or dies without a will, there are problems in administering the estate or achieving a fair and equitable resolution of the estate issues. At Long Shariff & Associates, we have experience in representing individuals and their families in achieving positive results in estate litigation, including passing of accounts, challenging wills, removal of executors, and generally, assisting in the administration of estates.

Criminal Law

The area of criminal law encompasses a number of different legal issues; our firm specializes in areas such as the following:

  • Domestics Assault
  • Violent Offences
  • Youth Offences
  • Driving Offences
  • Impaired Driving
  • Regularity Offences
  • Bailing Hearings
  • Drug Offences
  • Property Offences
  • Weapon Offences
  • Theft
  • Fraud
  • Pardons
  • White Collar Crimes

Civil Litigation

The area of civil litigation encompasses a number of different legal issues; our firm specializes in areas such as the following:

  • Contractual Disputes
  • Estate Litigation
  • Construction Lien Matters
  • Commercial Disputes
  • Personal Injury And Motor Vehicle Accident Claims
  • Wrongful Dismissal And Employment Claims
  • Shareholder And Partnership Matters
  • Debt Collection
  • Wrongful Death
  • Commercial Landlord And Tenant Disputes
  • Neighbour Disputes
  • Defenses Of All Claims
  • Mediation, Trials And Appeals