The famous comedian and actor, George Lopez, and his wife Ann Lopez are ending their 17 year marriage. Sources state that the parties mutually agreed to end the marriage but that they will continue to remain partners of their business and a philanthropic organization called "The Lopez Foundation". They have one child together, Mayan Lopez.
How would the couple deal with the issues arising out of their separation in Ontario?
Custody and Access
The custody of a child relates to important decisions that affect the child. Unlike some of the laws in the United States, it does not relate to the physical custody of a child (In Ontario, it is called 'access' or 'parenting time'). Custody involves the right to make important decisions such as where the child will go to school, what medication she/he will take, what religious upbringing she/he will follow and overall day to day decisions that will affect a child's best interests. Given that George and Ann intend on remaining partners of their organization, "The Lopez Foundation", and the fact that they would like to continue their business together, it is evident that they are on good terms. The Court prefers to award joint custody to parties that have an amicable relationship as it is much easier for the parties to make joint decisions about the children, rather than to argue about said decisions. Based on the foregoing, we can assume that an Ontario judge would likely award the parties with a joint custody regime as they are on good terms together.
Who will get primary residency?
A judge may award primary residency to the parent who primarily cared for Mayan during the marriage and even after the separation. Assuming that George was working during the majority of the parties' marriage, then it is possible that the Judge will award primary residence with Ann and George will have access/parenting time. George will have a difficult time arguing that primary residency should be awarded to him as he most likely has a busy work schedule. Remember that parties can have joint custody of a child (as it relates to joint decision making), even if the child lives primarily with one parent.
Child Support and Special Expenses
Child support is money that is payable to the parent who has Mayan in their primary care. Assuming that Ann would have Mayan in her care, George would have to pay a specific amount of child support to Ann per month. The amount of child support payable is based on the FederalChild Support Guidelines ("Guidelines") that considers George's income and the number of children the payor supports, here being one.
Mayan's special expenses, also known as Section 7 expenses are expenses such as tutoring, dance classes, a nanny and so forth. These expenses are not paid by the child support recipient alone. Section 7 expenses are determined based on whether such expenses are in the child's best interest and the reasonableness of such expenses in relation to George and Ann's ability to pay for such expenses. Typically, parties decide on section 7 expenses together as they are both expected to contribute to same.
In Ontario, spousal support will be awarded to party who can demonstrate that they are in need of it. The length of the marriage will also be taken into account, here being a relatively long marriage of seventeen years. As noted above, the parties have a business together. It is unlikely that either party will make a claim for support given that both parties should have significant capital after the property issues have been resolved. As such, spousal support will most likely not be awarded because neither party is in need of it. If either party was entitled to spousal support, the Court would have regard to the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines. As the title indicates, they are merely advisory in nature and do not have to be adhered to. Conversely, the Child Support Guidelines are to be followed as discussed above.
Equalization of Net Family Property
Equalization of net family property allows George and Ann to share equally the value of assets acquired during the course of their marriage. Each party will need to take into account all the property/assets they acquired during the marriage. The spouse whose net family property is the lesser of the two is entitled to one half of the difference between them. For more information regarding equalization please visit our website. In this case, it is likely that George will have to pay an equalization payment to Ann.