The world has changed significantly in the last twenty years with the rise of the internet. We have seen improvements in communication and changes in how we do business, as the world has become a lot smaller. However, the internet and a smaller world have also changed the way we connect with people, and have increased the pool of people with whom we can connect. As such, finding love and your future partner have greatly changed in the information age as more and more people are meeting online, and more and more relationships are starting from long distances with one spouse moving that long distance to live with the other. Not all of these relationships end happily ever after, and if you are one of these people there are a few things you should know about how this may affect your family law issues.
Today I would like to talk to you about the potential legal implications of marrying or commencing a relationship with someone from another part of the province, country or the world if that relationship has ended. Well, if you and your spouse met over the internet and you live in the same community, then your separation will be just the same as the majority of former couples. However, if you and your spouse met over the internet and your spouse moved to your community in Ontario, there could be some more far-reaching effects.
How can a relationship commenced over the internet affect my child-related issues?
If your former spouse has no family in your community and wants to move back to his or her home town, then this could affect child-related issues such as custody, residence and access. When we refer to custody, we mean decision-making power regarding your children on issues such as health, education, religion and residence. As such, if you and your former spouse are not living in the same community and the children are living primarily with one of you, then that parent will most likely be the sole decision-maker for the children. Why? Well, the parent living in another community than the children may simply not have enough information to contribute to the decision-making process due to distance.
The issues of residence and access can also be affected by one parent moving back to their home town. First, there may be a strong disagreement between the parents regarding the community wherein the children will reside, which is a disagreement that has no winner as the parents and the children will always lose when the children do not see both parents regularly. Second, regardless of where the children eventually land, the greater the distance between the two homes of the parents the more likely the access parent will not be able to take regular access to the children. The net effect is that if the distance is not too far, the access parent may only be able to take access once a month as opposed to several times per month, or perhaps the access parent will only be able to see the children a few times per year if the distance between them is very far. As such, this parent may have the children for most of the Christmas school break, all of the March break, and most of the summer.
How can a relationship commenced over the internet affect my support-related issues?
If your former spouse decides to stay in the same community as you, and if you are the higher income earner, then your spousal support issues could be affected. To explain, if your former spouse moved to your community to live with you, and in the process gave up a thriving career in their home town, then the negative effect this had on their earning power could affect their spousal support claim. Additionally, the distance your former spouse had to travel to live with you, and the family he or she left behind, and the change in cultures experienced by your former spouse can also affect his or her spousal support claim. Basically, as spousal support can have a compensatory element, the things your spouse gave up can strengthen his or her claim for spousal support.
What can you do next?
If you have not yet started your internet romance and your future spouse has not yet made the trip to live with you, then you should think about my earlier comments and discuss these issues with your future spouse. If you are already in a relationship, wherein your separation could be affected by your spouse moving away from or staying in your current community in Ontario, or if your relationship has already ended, then you should consult with a family law lawyer as soon as possible.