When a new client arrived for our initial consultation he seemed sullen and distracted. I asked what he was thinking about. He sighed and explained how he always believed that what was held by his company belonged to the company and what were used by the family were family assets. He had a group of

The First Joint Collaborative Meeting

It’s a nerve wracking experience to walk into a lawyer’s office to begin the journey of sharing your intimate marital or common law history. There was no Separation 101 course available in high school and seriously, the thought of ever going through this had not crossed your mind. After a good discussion of the different

Two sides to Joint Ownership of the House with the Children

Parents who solely own a house or cottage think about changing the ownership of these assets to include their children. While there may be sentimental or economic reasons for doing so, care must be taken to understand the full consequences of such a decision. Loss of critical tax credits for both the parent and child

Family Business Valuations and Marriage Contracts

A business owner was discussing seeking legal advice with Sandra, his high school sweetheart, about the impact his flourishing import/export corporation may face once they married. Jacques and his business partner, Sam, started seven years ago what is today a successful international company. There are four divisions employing 38 people; each with a family of

Customizing a Private Approach or Going Public

One of my best friends, Jim, is facing what he sees a tough road ahead. It’s not that he and his wife are separating; it’s the unwelcome help he’s receiving from his gym mates. One soccer buddy boasts that Jim must lead the troops and show the rest of the guys what we’re made of.

Betrayal or Good Economic Sense?

For senior adults stepping into their second marriages, the tough conversation is often about the marriage contract. Not so long ago, this discussion would have been a nonstarter and certainly a deal breaker. Feeling personal betrayal during this honeymoon phase, a tough discussion about money seems to come from nowhere.  The spouse being asked to

3 Tips from Experienced Clients on Picking the Right Lawyer

There was no course in school where you learned how to select the right family law lawyer. And, you probably didn’t need one back then. Now, you’re considering making a transition from being in a relationship to going solo or, from being solo to being a couple. It’s a good move to understand what legal

Give with Your Heart …and a Few Conditions

This article was published in Morgan Meighen & Associates inFocus Timely Investment Insight Spring 2012 Edition Given today’s uncertain economic times, parents may decide to financially assist their children now rather than traditionally providing a bequest contained in their will. They may purchase a starter home for their child; transfer a select class of shares

Collaborating Family Differences: Essential Elements 1

Facing what might be the toughest, most fearful time of your life, is admitting that your marriage may be over. It’s a tough and emotional time. It’s hard to imagine what comes next. 1. Collaborating: What’s it all about? In common with innovative medical research, architectural design, theatre productions, collaborative family approach is a voluntary

Step Up: Collaborate!

First Thoughts

Whether you are entering into a relationship; already sharing a home together; or you or find yourself at the end of your marriage or long term partnership, developing a comprehensive prenuptial, cohabitation, marriage or separation agreement can be a daunting task.

How do you start? How do you create an ideal parenting plan? How do you divide the funds held in a joint account and who will carry the jointly held mortgage? Do the terms in your prenuptial agreement need to be reviewed when you decide to marry? What is the difference between a family home and a matrimonial home?

To create a viable long term agreement by directly involving you, a critical participant with your spouse or partner, requires acknowledging difficult emotions, distinguishing individual goals from interests in common, and being able to deal promptly with urgent needs. It also means ensuring that each spouse openly and fully shares with the other all information necessary to understand the big financial picture. Consider the current cash flow, future resources available for retirement, and savings available to fund the children’s post secondary educational programs. With each spouse fully understanding their legal rights and obligations and with complete financial information in hand, they will be able to critically assess all possible options: sorting the viable and durable ones from those which sound intriguing but are unsustainable. Working with a mutually agreed framework also helps to develop trust and consensus.

The Toddler, His Toy and a New Skill

Introducing the Collaborative Process

I stopped to watch this little toddler and his encounter with a wrought iron railing. With his stuffed toy firmly in his little grip, he ventured confidently between two posts of the railing as though they didn’t exist. He quickly gained his balance standing on the bottom rail and excitedly waved his arms freely on the other side of the posts. He was fascinated that he could see his arms and his toy waving over there. His parents stopped in their tracks, turning to watch him with knowing expressions on their faces.

The toddler’s confidence slowly waned to insecurity. He became unsure how to continue forward with his beloved toy still in his grip.  Without uttering a word, the father gently took the toy from the toddler’s hand, and watching the child’s eyes pop wide in wonder, the father moved the toy in a slow, gentle arc from in front of the child to beside the child outside the end post. The toddler followed the movement of his toy and stepping backwards, he freed himself. He joyfully reached out for his toy and fell back in step behind his parents.