The 25th Week

Introduction to Canadian Family Law


How immigration affects family life
Immigration is often a serious challenge for the family. The relationship between husband and wife, parents and children as well as attitudes toward the elderly are changing. Traditional roles and relationships within the family may change and some family members do not agree with their new roles.
I know of one case where the husband (an engineer) and the wife (a doctor) decided after immigration that both of them could not start a career at the same time. The medical profession is recognized as a priority and the wife managed to become a doctor. While she was studying, passing exams and achieving a medical license, the husband at the same time led the household and cared for the children and wife.

The legend of an arrow bundle has not lost relevance
All family members need to understand that it is easier to overcome immigration barriers if they are a strong family. You probably know the old legend: The father suggested that quarreling sons break a bound together bundle of arrows and they could not do it. But when the bundle was untied, each arrow separately could be easily broken.
I sincerely hope that after immigrating there is peace and love in your family; however if you have free time, you should learn more about Canadian family law.

Will your marriage be recognized in Canada?
For a start, see the brochure, What You Should Know about Family Law in Ontario, which is available at: www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/family/familyla.pdf. Its sixty pages describe the features of the Canadian family law and, in particular, focus on issues such as the order of registration of marriage and divorce, the rights and duties of husband and wife and how to resolve family conflicts. If there are quarrels in the family, it is good to consult the Family Counselling Services in your area.
Canadian laws governing family relationships may be differ from the laws that operate in the country which you came from. Will your marriage be recognized in Canada? It will be recognized
if it is not against the laws of Canada. For example, in Canada, marriages between close relatives are prohibited. Civil and religious marriages are both recognized.

What is Common-Law
In Canada, there are relations referred to as Common-law, when husband and wife are living together without an official marriage registration. However, they have the same rights and responsibilities as people who are living in a registered marriage. When they cease to live together, the wife can apply for child support and part of the property although their marriage was not registered.

Canadian divorce
Divorce in Canada also has special features: there is both the official divorce and separation. For example, a house or apartment in which the married couple has lived for a long time is their common property and after the divorce, the proceeds of the sale of the residence will be split in half, even if it belonged to one of them before marriage.

Do not offend women and children
There is a legal protection in Canada for women, children and the elderly against physical or mental abuse. In Canada, there are services where women can apply in the case of ill-treatment. The Assaulted Women's Helpline works daily around the clock; its number is 416-863-0511 in Toronto. Contacting this phone number the woman will be able to tell about her situation in her native language, get advice and such assistance as a temporary shelter, medical and legal care (This line is serviced by 150 languages).

Special organizations of Canada are watching that children are not being abused. If you have problems with children in Toronto, you can call 416-924-4646 or go to the Children's Aid Society. The branch of this organization in North York is located at 789 Don Mills Road, and its website is www.torontocas.ca. More information about Canadian family law is available in libraries where you can find a special brochure published by Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO). On the site, www.cleo.on.ca, some issues of family law in Canada are covered in different languages.
According to local regulations, you can leave children home alone only after they turn twelve years old. Physical punishment of children in Canada is prohibited and children may complain to the police. If your children feels uncomfortable in a kindergarten or day care and they refuse to go there, talk about this problem with the manager of the day care.