Day: January 24, 2023

Does Language Matter In The Family Court?

We should strive for court to be a problem-solving forum for discussion and compromise.

Lawyers are often stereotyped for using ‘legal-ese’ and not putting everyday issues into everyday language. This no doubt makes it difficult for litigants in person (individuals who do not have legal representation) as well as our own clients who are navigating the family court.

The court is also considered an adversarial place, where you are fighting for something – be it your home, or time with your children.

However, instead of it seeing it as a battleground (further complicated by archaic language) it should be seen as a problem-solving forum for discussion and compromise.

Family Solutions Group paper

In late 2022, the Family Solutions Group published a paper commissioned by the President of the Family Division called ‘Language Matters’.

The report calls for a fresh look at the way family law is framed and delivered to those who need to use it, with a view to shifting mindsets away from adversity and battles, and towards safety, wellbeing and child welfare.

What are the recommended core principles?

The core principles recommended by the Family Solutions Group, called the ‘five Ps’ are:

  1. Plain English – avoid legal jargon and use words which can easily be understood.
  2. Personal – use family names rather than legal labels.
  3. Proportionate – use language which is proportionate to the family issues being considered.
  4. Problem-solving – use constructive problem-solving language rather than battle language. The move from combative to cooperative language reflects a move from the language of parental rights to the language of parental responsibility, so issues can be approached in a child-focussed and problem-solving way.
  5. Positive futures – the emphasis is not on past recriminations but on building positive futures in which children can thrive.

And so, what is our advice?

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‘We need a miracle’: Hamilton family with 5 kids faces 2nd deportation to Chile

Samira Aboizneid, 15, has so many plans for her future. 

“I want to go to McMaster University and maybe study neuroscience, maybe study law,” she says from inside her bedroom one Sunday afternoon in January.

It’s lunchtime at the tidy townhouse where she and her family live on the Hamilton Mountain. Downstairs, her mother, Ahlam, is preparing a Palestinian favourite dish — Maqluba — and the smell of slow-cooked chicken and cardamom wafts up to the room Samira shares with one of her younger brothers. 

Her bed is piled with school books, a Texas Instruments calculator and homework filled out with neat handwriting — evidence of her scholarly ambitions. 

“I want to make a difference within the government. Maybe I want to become an immigration lawyer myself to prevent what’s going on with my family [from happening] to others,” she says.

Samira, along with her parents and four siblings, is facing deportation to Chile — a country where the family lived before coming to Canada but have no family ties and do not speak the language — for the second time.

The Aboizneid children have spent most of their lives in Canada and deportation means leaving their friends, school and plans for the future behind, again. 

“I feel as if I’m a Canadian myself. It’s just like a hole in my heart … when they tell me I’m not,” Samira said. 

Family says they felt isolated, unsafe in Chile

The Aboizneid family’s story, like many stories of people seeking refugee status, has several twists and turns. 

Monir Aboizneid and his wife, Ahlam, fled the Palestinian territories in 2005 with their infant son, Tariq. 

They went to Chile, which has a large Palestinian population, and eventually gained citizenship there but Monir said as Muslims, his family still felt isolated and

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The impact of mental illness on your family law matter

Click here to watch the Video

In this video, CGW family law partner Justine Woods talks about the impact of mental illness on your family law matter.

Video transcript

Hello, hello, everyone. I’m Justine Woods. I’m the family law partner at Cooper Grace Ward and what we’re going to talk about today is the role of mental health in family law matters.

Now, mental health is significant in family law matters, as in all others. Firstly, in relation to the issue of capacity and in simple terms, that means as a client you have to have the legal ability to give instructions to understand advice.

Now every state and territory in Australia has different but very similar laws about what the tests are, and it’s really the capacity to understand and process information and to make informed decisions to some extent about your own affairs. Now what it doesn’t mean is that you can’t be suffering from some kind of physical injury or have some diagnosed mental illness. In fact, I’ve had matters where my own client or the other side, and sometimes both had early onset dementia, for example, other forms of brain injury and with the support and assessment of their doctors, they were still found to have legal capacity. Because it’s not having perfect brain function or genius, it’s being able to understand information and decisions that are going to be significant in your own life. So, that’s the very dry aspect of mental health, if we can call it that, in that context, where people find it more worrying in a family law context and depending on whom I’m acting for, it’s either presented to me as a question about ‘I have depression, anxiety, bipolar, sometimes schizophrenia, various other diagnoses, I’ve been hospitalised. What will that

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Burns’ bairns and bedroom tales, examined from a 21st century family law perspective

On 25th January, many will be celebrating the life of Robert (or “Rabbie”) Burns, Scotland’s National Bard. Burns was an extraordinary poet of considerable literary talent. His legacy and works, including Tam o’ Shanter and Auld Lang Syne, are renowned across the world and are an intrinsically linked part of Scottish culture. But what of the character of the man behind some of the best-known poems ever written?

“A man’s a man for aw that”

Many have written, through a modern lens, of the perceived flaws in Burns’ character and his life choices. He is often cited as a prime example of human weakness. Burns did not shy away from admitting the aspects of his character which may be frowned upon by others, with the directness, honesty and sincerity he displayed in many of his works.

Burns’ many children

It is documented that Burns fathered (at least) twelve children. His first child, Elizabeth, was born to one of his family’s servants, Elizabeth Paton. He had nine children to the love of his life, Jean Armour, whom he eventually married. Only three of those children survived past infancy. Before marrying Jean, Burns fathered a child to another servant, May (or Peggy) Cameron. Jenny Clow, another servant girl, gave birth to a son (Robert Burns Clow) and local barmaid Ann Park gave birth to a daughter (Elizabeth) after Burns married Jean.

If Burns had lived in twenty first century Scotland, he would have a legal obligation to aliment (i.e. provide financial support) for each of his children until they reached the age of twenty five if they remained in full-time education in accordance with Section 1 of the Family Law Scotland Act 1985. He would require to pay child maintenance to each mother and for each child until that child reached the

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This Month In Nova Scotia Family Law – December 2022 – Family Law

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MacNeil v Yeadon, 2022 NSCA 79

Justice Cindy A. Bourgeois

Subject matter: Retroactive Child Support | Prospective Child

Mr. MacNeil and Ms. Yeadon were divorced in 2011 and share two
children. In 2019, Mr. MacNeil applied to decrease his child
support payments because to their oldest child was attending
university and living away from home for most of the year. Ms.
Yeadon opposed a decrease of child support and requested a
retroactive increase in child support. At the hearing, Justice
Cormier determined that Mr. MacNeil had experienced a significant
increase in income which he failed to disclose to Ms. Yeadon. Mr.
MacNeil was ordered to pay $193,607 in retroactive child support
and $7,061 in ongoing monthly child support for both children.

On Appeal, Mr. MacNeil argued that the hearing judge made
significant errors in determining his past and current income. He
also argued that the trial judge failed to properly apply legal
principles in determining whether a retroactive award was

Mr. MacNeil asked the Court to accept fresh evidence of his past
and present income, which was an expert Guideline Income Report
calculating his income according to the child support guidelines.
Justice Bourgeois did not permit the Report to be introduced on
appeal. Although the Report was relevant and could have affected
the outcome of the hearing, it existed prior to the hearing and
could have been presented to the judge at that time.

The parties agreed that the income attributed to Mr. MacNeil at
the hearing was inaccurate. In calculating Mr. MacNeil’s income
between 2018 to 2021, the judge collectively overstated Mr.
MacNeil’s income by at least $869,000. Justice Bourgeois
described the hearing judge’s calculation of Mr. MacNeil’s
income as

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