Family Law – Fathers: Myths & Truths

Written by Carpenter Family Law On November 11, 2015

Father's Rights in OntarioAt Carpenter Law (or almost any family law services provider for that matter), we often hear horror stories of fathers being judged harshly during family court proceedings.

They suffer unfair accusations.

They are mistreated by judges and opposing counsel.

They believe that family law in Ontario is tilted against them.

They think they just can’t catch a break.

Dads undergoing divorce & separation have many grievances when it comes to the Ontario Family Court System.

Some of which may be valid. Others are a result of misconceptions.

MYTH: Judges are predisposed to be against men
TRUTH: Don’t blame judges, blame the system

Blaming a “system” is nearly impossible. There’s no one single person trying to impede father rights in Ontario.

The judge ends up taking the brunt of the blame.

A judge’s mandate is to do what’s in the best interest of any children involved.

The system, however, promotes that both parents “put forward their best case” and that the judge must pick one or the other.

And when the judge sides with the mother, fathers are understandably upset.

It’s an adversarial system that creates a “winner takes all” atmosphere that fosters animosity between parents.

The best way to avoid that type of scenario is to use a less hostile approach such as mediation & arbitration to create open and honest lines of communication, where father rights are balanced equally in the equation.

Plus, mediation & arbitration takes things out of the courtroom and away from judges.

MYTH: Fathers don’t actually have “rights”
TRUTH: Yes they do and they’re just as valid as a mother’s

Father's Rights in Ontario

For some reason, the term “father’s rights” brings out a negative reaction among people.

Even worse, there’s a built-in belief that father’s don’t have “rights” when it comes to family law.

Among other things, father rights in Ontario include:

  • Have an ongoing and thriving relationship with their children.
  • Claim paternity.
  • Intervene or have a voice in any adoption proceedings which may take place.
  • Provide ongoing financial child support, even if it’s not needed or wanted.
  • Make collaborative parenting decisions when appropriate.
  • Share joint custody and co-parent.

Remember, these are rights, not privileges, and your ex-partner has the exact same rights.

Father's Rights in OntarioMYTH: Fathers always have to pay child or spousal support
TRUTH: There’s a formula to determine support; it’s not arbitrary

In Ontario child support is calculated through the Child Support Table Look-Up which takes into account the following factors:

  • Number of children
  • Where the “payor” lives in Canada
  • “Payor” annual income before taxes

When divorcing or separating parents are doing so amicably, the established table can help determine an appropriate amount.

As for spousal support, it’s calculated only when the spouse seeking support proves that she (or he) is entitled to it. It’s not meant to replace income from a full-time job.

Lastly, spousal support is almost always paid by the spouse with the higher income to the spouse with the lower income. Gender does not enter into the equation.

So if you – as a father – earn less than your ex-spouse, you can apply for spousal support from your ex-wife.

It isn’t automatically assumed that you, as a father, must automatically pay any alimony.

MYTH: Fathers must automatically move out after a marital breakdown
TRUTH: They don’t

Living together with children in the same house in a broken marriage is awkward, no doubt about it.

However father rights in Ontario include the freedom to maintain residence in the same house, if both parents are capable of living as such.

If mom and dad can co-exist peacefully and not cause any emotional harm to the children, it is possible for them to live under the same roof during divorce & separation proceedings.

Furthermore, there’s no law stating that dads have to leave just because mom said so.

Of course, this is all dependent on the stability of the situation.

If you find that co-habiting with your ex-spouse is stressful and volatile, then it makes sense to find somewhere else to live.

Don’t Give Up the Fight for Your Rights

You’re a dad.

Your marriage is over.

You’re apart from your kids and miss them terribly.

You don’t know what to do.

Firstly, you need to remember that you do have rights.

Secondly, you should know that at Carpenter Law, we can – and want to help.

Contact us today for a consultation. We’ll get back to you within 24 hours to discuss your legal situation.

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