Marie: good morning Montreal! Just moving on with our awareness series, learning from our professionals, sharing the knowledge with experts because especially during these times, we have some very very serious decisions to take and I think we’re all kind of questioning a little bit some of our own habits and upbringing and thoughts, so something to talk about with our guest every Monday of course, its Maitre Sheri Spunt. Let’s welcome this fabulous lawyer. Good morning Maitre!
Sheri: good morning how are you?
Marie: praise the lord mam, made it through the weekend, starting another week were still standing
Marie: I don’t set my bar too high. People say what do you wish for Marie and I always say breath, because nothing else really matters
Sheri: ya we can’t do anything without that, that’s our starting point
Marie: ya exactly our starting point. My friend used to say geez your expectations are low Marie I said really you think it’s easy to have great healthy breath every day, you gotta work at it
Marie: Maitre, speaking of breath, I can’t breathe. That’s all we’ve been hearing going on two weeks in a couple of days. I’m referring of course to the demonstrations and the protests. Everybody is dealing with it. The change will come through the next generations which means what people are telling their children today is what’s going to carry or make any changes. How are you, I mean I’m sorry before I get to legal questions, how are you dealing with it maam and your own children and that, can you share that with us?
Sheri: ya it’s an incredibly difficult time and it’s a nightmare that happened right before everyone dies, this is not something new and this is not something that hasn’t been happening but it was for everyone to watch and see, frightening and a wake up call I think to the world. And I think the thing that is most important to me on a personal level as a parent is education and it all starts at home. And one of the things that we’ve been working on since this has really been brought to the forefront is resources and tools for our clients, for parents to be able to work with their children on this because it all starts at home and we’ve all been reading and learning and educating ourselves and I think the most important thing is that racism Is taught, it’s not something you’re born with so we need to start with it early and start the conversation, speak about diversity. I remember reading to my 2-year-old four years ago a sesame street book that was on all different colors, and different races and explaining that were all different but were all the same. And I remember having that conversation early on because one of my son’s best friends is Indian and talking about different skin colors. Kids are curious, they have questions and we need to give them answers to the questions and teach the dialogue before it becomes something that’s problematic, explain the difference, explain what countries we all come from, why do we come from different countries and so on. So we’ve curated a list as a starting point of books that you could read with your kids, books for parents to read themselves , some videos…kids are very visual learners and I think that even the process, you know were providing these tools for our clients to read with their children but it will also help our clients too because if you look back at the systemic racism, it’s because our generation and the generations before us didn’t get that education so it’s also going to be education for our clients too, the parents in how to navigate it themselves. Even though it’s on an elementary level. Btu it starts there. So I think that our goal is to make our children and our families change the conversation n and with knowledge is power and this all stems from a place of ignorance and so were working together my team to try and building a library database with useful information to be able to pass on that information and learning
Marie: okay but now the classic question and I sure hope you have an answer for us because you got us all excited. Where can I order or can I order these videos and books?
Sheri: ya so on our website we have a list that we started compiling of books for kids and videos. The links for the videos are on our website that’s at sherimspuntavocats.com. and all these books are available, most of them are available on amazon or indigo books. The videos are linked right away on our website and were still working. This is a very preliminary list so were adding books slowly after we make sure they’re age appropriate and so on. And so were going to keep working on this list of resources because I think it needs to be a work in progress and we’re going through the process ourselves
Marie: now you know someone said to me kids today are a bit like and I love the example I gave, they said Marie remember star wars or even star trek, let’s go with star wars the first one, remember when they’re in the bar or when they’re showing social platforms, everybody’s different, including chubaka right and all the other ones, the robots the guy with the one eye on the forehead, another girl sitting at the bar had three arms, and nobody’s looking at them weird because it’s the future and we’ve accepted these differences and I thought my god, I was hoping when I first saw that on star wars that we would get there sooner but anyways its taking us a while but you know what this might be the cry that is being heard around the world
Sheri: ya and I think it just has to continue past the media talking about it, it just has to continue. It has to become a part of our children’s education. If this is the wakeup call then it is and it’s here and the conversation needs to keep happening and keep going and it should be in schools and talked about. It shouldn’t be something taboo and it shouldn’t be something that the conversation only in families of difference or families of color. It has to be discussed in every household, right? Because it starts at home. So, it’s the parents’ responsibility. And also, it’s our responsibility to talk to our parents too and a lot of people are saying these are difficult conversations to have but it’s the older generation that’s problematic as well because unfortunately for them, a lot of them weren’t provided with the education and the dialogue and the conversation and the resources. Well now they exist. And I just think it’s never too late. So, if your parents are 70 or 65, whatever it be, younger or older, the same conversation you’re having with your kids, have with your parents too.
Marie: absolutely 100% because they didn’t mean any harm, they were just repeating what they grew up with. Those grandparents that you’re referring to. I’m looking at those 70-80-year olds, that have seen a lot of changes in society. Jews are bad they killed baby Jesus, Muslims are bad they’re denying our baby Jesus was the best, the Buddhists oh my god… I remember back in the sixties the divisions over religions and I thought, seriously were all praying for a better world and we can’t get together on this? We’re dividing ourselves based on whose religion is the best, the nicest the most comforting the right one, common man.
Sheri: we need to come together now more than ever. Because you know what? It’s also the first time in the world that everybody is going through the same thing so outside of race, outside of economic background, everybody is suffering going through the same experience and this is the first time, at least in my lifetime when we’ve ever had a situation like this where everybody is on lockdown. Most people were working from home. Everybody is trying to keep their families safe. Everybody is trying to find ways to navigate this. And the saying that’s going around, ca va bien aller and were all in this together, it’s a really different time so let’s use this time that were all in this together and start being nicer and kinder to one another and helping one another and working together to eradicate this. And it’s almost the timing that people are home and have time to do the reading, take time to think, to think about their upbringing or childhood, which conversations were had or weren’t had. So, let’s use the time we’ve been given, this extra time and use this opportunity to do something good wit it
Marie: you know, all these religions I mentioned plus another dozen that are probably forgotten, they’re all up there looking down on us saying oh my god you’re so close to figuring it out you’re all so close that we are all one breed called the human breed and I’m going to and this because I have some questions for you obviously, I saw a beautiful graphic. It had seven Labrador retrievers in a variety of shades. The two black ones, the brown one, the yellow one the blonde one the white one. And the caption said, you got a problem, were all the same. And I thought that was so beautiful
Sheri: ya it’s so true
Marie: anyway, you know somebody else said to me, Marie what are you trying to do, forcing us, we have to like everybody? And I said look dude it’s a personal thing, you know when you go into your home, if you don’t like Greeks, you don’t have to invite me into your home, don’t spread the hate, be diplomatic, that is your personal opinion, and you’ll never invite me in your home, that’s your prerogative, nobody’s forcing you to love everybody if you’re really struggling with it. So, what we’re saying is just hold back on the hate please
Sheri: ya and give a little extra love, everybody needs a little extra love these days
Marie: ya but for those people that have trouble, that are struggling with it that were brought up with prejudices, that’s real for them so again, take baby steps. If you can’t love right away, start by trying not to hate. Hate a little less every week, you know what I mean. And slowly well make a transition and try and bring it to the love
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Marie: we have our first question for lawyer Sheri Spunt. Alright. Maam its unfortunate but we talk about families trying to work it out but it’s not happening. Somebody had a question. They said, if we could ask you, when you make up your mind the man made up his mind, he comes to see you he said, I want to file for divorce. What actually happens if he does not want to be in the house when the spouse is informed. Take us through the first five steps, what would it be
Sheri: ok so there’s a few different scenarios obviously in how that can play out. Scenario 1 if monsieur or madame wants to leave the residence, that’s one thing. If monsieur or madame wants the other party to leave that’s a different thing. So, let’s say one person voluntarily wants to leave, they can do that before seeing a lawyer. Do we advise it? No not necessarily but can they do it? Yes, they can do that. They can leave on an amicable basis, I’m leaving I’m renting my own apartment and were going to deal with this either through mediation, were going to deal with this on our own, or were going to deal with this through lawyers. So that being said, once that happens, the next steps follow. Usually once the dust settles and people leave the house then it’s easier to try and negotiate. I suggest people try and negotiate before because once you leave the house you do essentially lose a certain I don’t know if control is the right word, but you lose a certain ability, well first of all to come back in the house because that decision has been made and then the person that stays in the house is usually with the kids. So, you want to make sure that you have a plan in place to see your children and what that’s going to look like. So, scenario one is one person leaves amicably. Scenario two both parents want the other one to leave, so what do we do and both refuse to leave. That’s when we would draft an application which would include either an application to get divorced, an application to separate, and in there we would include the request to have exclusive use of the family residence to one parent. Now how quickly can you get into court, our clients ask? I need them gone today or tomorrow. So usually, pre-Covid, when there is an urgent situation, when there is domestic violence going on, or child abuse or it’s just a toxic environment for the children to live in because of the tension and the fighting, we would then draft an urgent application to move out of the house, to have one person to have exclusive use of the residence, and that used to be ten days was the legal delay and if there was an exceptional measure, we could be in court up to 2 day safter the other party receives the proceedings. Obviously if someone’s in danger, we tell them to leave the house in the meantime but if not were in court pretty quickly and then the judge will decide who should leave the home. If there’s children who live in the home, the judge is going to decide based on the children’s best interest which parent should be staying at the house on a temporary basis. So, this is all essentially going to court as an emergency for the court to tell the family who’s staying in the house on a temporary basis until there’s a final decision made
Marie: excuse me mam just a quick question. You said that in a general term, so you mean that if a mother is a bit unstable or if the courts see, they might actually choose the dad to stay at the house with the kids?
Sheri: yes if both parents have a request for exclusive use of the family residence, if that’s what the judge decides that it’s in the best interest to live with mom in the house, is it in the child’s best interest to live with dad in the house, or if there’s two moms which mom or if there’s two dads, which dad. The courts are going to determine based on what’s in the child’s best interest, that’s all that they care about. They don’t care about the gender roles or what that might be they care about what is in the child’s best interest at that moment in time until a permanent decision is rendered in that family. So that’s one way to do it. There are also 2 other options that exist. So, when you decide, okay today is Monday June 8 I am done, week 13 Covid, I can’t take this anymore, once that decision has been made there’s other options that exist without necessarily one of the parents moving out on a permanent basis. So one of the other options is living separately under the same roof so that’s both parents are still in the same house, it happens to a lot of couples, one parent moves to the basement , someone moves to the couch whatever, and they basically start living their separate lives but still living in the same house until they have a more permanent solution worked out. That’s another thing that a lot of parents do. and that’s not perfect of course because then your children continue to be exposed to the conflict and so on and it kind of gives a sense of false hope that mom and dad or mom and mom are going to reconcile. And the third option is something that’s called nesting and nesting is something that the courts find very favourable to a lot of families. So, what that is instead of the kids packing their bags every week or every few days, it’s the parents who pack their suitcase so they leave. So, let’s say a custody arrangement is one week one week, parent A packs up their bag, they go to an apartment, sometimes the parents even share the apartment so when the other parent B’s week, they stay in that apartment, or they each get their own. So basically, the kids never have to move. Its already a very difficult transition for the children to process and to deal with their parents’ divorce or separation. This gives them a little bit of structure and stability during that time so the families will rotate. The parents will rotate and it gives the kids time to process it, it gives the parents time to find their own place to go, and to see how the whole situation is going
Marie: ok Maitre I learned something today, I love learning, nesting now I understand the wording. I like it. Because at the end of the day, the kids being dragged around here and there…I love it. I think a consistency when you’re young you know having, especially the home, I think it’s a great idea. Only one question. Can it be forever? Does it have to be temporary
Sheri: it’s pretty temporary I mean the longest I’ve seen it really go on is a year. A year is every long. Sometimes the parents will decide to nest until the house is sold, the family residence is sold or until they find a new home but it doesn’t really work on a permanent basis because then both parents are keeping two apartments or sharing the same apartment and also once the parties are divorced, usually one party buys out the other party for the family residence or the family residence is sold so it is a temporary solution but it works nicely for some families. It doesn’t work for every family of course. There are certain cases where it’s very contentious and one of the parties doesn’t want to be living in that space anymore or what have you but it is case by case, it is another option that the courts certainly do favor when it’s possible.
Marie: ok let’s go back now and do the question again but wen there’s no children involved. I assume that’s much easier?
Sheri: yes, its easier but then again how do we decide who’s going to leave. If they’re married then it’s still considered a family residence so well still apply these rules of family residence that both parties have equal rights to the residence save and except certain exceptions. But in that case, they would decide what makes more sense, maybe one party has more financial means or there’s another rental property that’s available. They’re really going to decide on a case by case basis who would be less inconvenienced by having to move out. If the couple is not married, then it’s the rule of property that apply. So, if they don’t both own the building then obviously preference is going to be the person who owns it, the owner is going to stay
Marie: okay this is my next question. They’re not married, they bought the property, its only in one of the names but both were contributing to making payments because of course when you’re in love, you never picture the day you’re breaking up, the trust, yah he’s my best friend my lover whatever, what happens in a case like that maam? The other one contributed also to buying that property but it might not show on documents
Sheri: ya it’s a too bad so sad type of situation unfortunately. I wish I had a better answer for that. I mean I’ve seen cases, where there’s compensation that can come into play. It’s very frustrating and you’re trying to show a paper trail, look I paid this mortgage payment, that mortgage payment, I renovated that bathroom, what are you talking about, so really that s a little bit problematic but you know it all comes down to fairness too. You would hope that despite the fact that you’re separating, that your partner would be reasonable and say ya you did put in $20 000 to renovate that bathroom and you did pay January to July and I’m not enriched because of it, because you contributed, and you’re impoverished, because you don’t have that money anymore and you put it into my property. So, there’s also a claim, I think we’ve talked about it already on this show about unjust enrichment, when there’s been an imbalance and it’s to compensate the other party for the contributions that they’ve made
Marie: okay because I figure if you don’t want to give me some compensation for the beautiful bathroom, you’re going to be left with that I paid for, I can undo all the repairs to the bathroom but wouldn’t that be a shame.
Sheri: Ya that gets ugly right
Marie: well hello because at the end of the day, remember truth to power, if he did fix it, if he or she did make those payments for example from January to July, just tell the truth you’re separating but tell the truth
Sheri: just be reasonable and that’s the thing, and we really do see people at their worst and sometimes it’s hard to be rational when you’re going through the pain of separation but sometimes you need to take time to breathe and to let the dust settle before we start the negotiations so that everyone can work on fairness
Marie: I remember with the pets, I’m going to go to Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux. They just were not in love with each other anymore but there was no hate int hat divorce. The only problem they faced were the two dogs.
Sheri: we have that, we have other families that share custody with their kids and with their dogs and the dog goes back and forth with the kids. In that scenario, that would be in the best interest of the kids because the kids love their dog, they’ve always been used to having the dog their whole lives, so why should they be deprived of that so that’s also something that I’ve seen and I’ve seen divorced couples also that have shared their cats or their dogs because they’re like children to them. That has to be people again who are on relatively good terms because not everybody can go on sharing their pets
Marie: no. I’ve seen some very ugly breakups where you just can’t stand to be anywhere near anyone or anything that had anything to do with that person
Sheri: ya 100%
Marie: and I feel sad for those people because it must be hard to live with such hate inside you
Sheri: it’s exhausting to fight like that but sometimes it takes a breaking point or something to click that life’s too short or that it takes more energy to be angry than it does to forgive. But again, it doesn’t all happen at the beginning, it’s a process that happens slowly over time
Marie: do you know of anybody before the marriage that will agree, or can they come to see you or a lawyer and put certain stipulations in their agreement for example, once a year we will have separate vacations, you don’t ask questions, you don’t even have to tell me where you go really nut we have that moment of freedom of our own time, whatever we want to do with it, where each one can go away on their own. Can you put things like that?
Sheri: of course, you can do whatever you want as long as it’s not against public order so as long as its not against anything that’s illegal or public order you can stipulate something like that and I think that’s important because that’s setting up expectations. We want everyone to start off on the same page. Everybody knows what they’re getting into, what’s important to them and I think if there’s things like that, we know ourselves best and are honest with ourselves, your partner can’t know you if you’re not honest with yourself, and if you know that you need to have that one week or two weeks a year to be able to keep it all together, then all the better, then let your partner in on it. And let them be on the same Page. But then you might have a partner that says well I’m not comfortable with that, what are you going to be doing on that vacation, so you can certainly plan for that
Marie: alright what you don’t know doesn’t hurt you, was an old saying
Sheri: it may come back and bite later but who knows
Marie: I know a situation like that where the guy had an affair but she fell in love and she kept hounding him and the wife found out, it wasn’t pleasant. Another thing somebody wants to know, if one of the parents is a smoker and drinker, cigarette smoking maybe some cannabis, and a drinker, a regular drinker, the other parent not at all, it was actually one of the reasons they separated. Can you say that while the children are with that spouse that drinks and smokes, can you ask that they do their drinking and smoking away from the child
Sheri: you can do more than that. You can ask that there be no drinking and smoking while that parent has custody of the child. That is sometimes a condition to certain custody arrangements and its written in the judgment or the consent agreement that the parties signed that the other party agrees not to drink or smoke or any other substances while they have the custody of the children. Again, the courts, they care about one thing and one thing only, the best interest of the child. So that means it’s in the parent’s best interest if the other parent is a drinker, smoker whatever, certainly not in the best interest for the child to be exposed to that so they ensure the parents are safe and it’s a safe environment for the children and they’re not subject tot that
Marie; can a father say, alright my wife wants us to separate, she wants to keep the kids, I travel a lot fine, but I would like it to be in the agreement that when she goes out, when she decides to be away, no babysitters will be called, I offer my service, I want to be with our children when she’s not there. Can you swing something like that?
Sheri: ya that’s kind of like a right of first refusal so to a certain extent. So lets say there’s a parent who travels for work and would need someone to stay over with the kids or something like that, that’s something that happens often also but these things have to be foreseen in advance so again that would either be in the court judgment or a consent agreement that the parties would agree to that if mom or dad are not available, that the other person has the first choice, instead of going to the grandmother’s house or grandfather’s house or what have you, that they would have the right to be called for. But I mean if it’s for a 2-hour affair, you’re not going to have the other spouse come sit on your couch and babysit. So again, everything’s within reason but that’s definitely something that we see to prioritize the children’s time to be able to spend time with parents rather than nannies, babysitters or grandparents.
Marie: you want to remarry. How much say does the dad of the children have, if anyone what characteristics your new husband is bringing to that family group?
Marie: what if he’s some kind of wacko from the bugaloo religion who’s going to turn my children into right wing nutcases?
Sheri: so to use your term “wacko”, if it would be considered harmful to the children or if there’s really a reason that it’s not in the children’s best interest to be with this person, then the courts can decide that that parent either will not have custody of the child or that during the custodial time that the kids are with that parent, that they won’t be present. But again, you have to prove that that person is harmful to the children, that there’s a serious reason the children shouldn’t be with this person so they really have to be a danger to the children. Either the father or the mother would decide that that spouse or partner is not around when the kids or there and then if they decide that they don’t agree and that’s not the case, they might at that point forfeit the custody arrangement that was in place but it has to be objective and not based on nothing, I’m jealous
Marie: ok so before we go to break, if grandparents are aware that their daughter has hooked up with the wrong people and their grandchildren are now exposed to illegal activity, use of drugs etc., can the grandparents save those kids?
Marie: they can?
Sheri: of course. Grandparents can, I mean we all have a duty, a responsibility and an obligation that if children are in danger, we have to contact the authorities. That’s what the director of youth protection is there for, so they can do what’s called in French a “signalement”, in English it’s called flagging the DYP so basically you’re letting them know that there are children in a dangerous situation and then it goes through the authorities and then the director of youth protection will evaluate the family to determine what is going on there and if the children are in fact in danger but that is every law abiding citizens responsibility to call it out if there’s children in danger either psychologically or physically and to let the authorities know
Marie: Me Spunt you’re so comforting, you’re just fabulous
Marie: health choices, Maitre, when things are going pretty good in a couple, and something comes up regarding the health of one of the children, the parents are on completely different sides for how to proceed with that health issue, who has final say?
Sheri: well parents in Quebec, share parental authority v50-50. So, one parent doesn’t trump the other. So that being said when they’re trying to make a decision you would hope the parents can sit down, create a pro and con list and try and figure out what’s in the child’s best interest again. But that doesn’t always happen. So, then the next thing is to lend itself to the courts. So even married couples, I don’t know how long they’ll last if they can’t make those decisions together, but even separated couples, it’s something we see a lot in terms of debates and differences of opinion based on medical interventions or medical treatment sand then it’ll be brought to the court, they will ask for medical expertise if its something that’s complicated and if that’s the case, then they would present all the information and data to the judge and the judge would decide who’s decision they think would be in the child’s best interest with respect to that. If the parent wants nothing to do with the child and there’s an exceptional circumstance of course, there’s always certain situations that are different and one parent either has either had a rupture of parental authority, which means it’s been revoked or they don’t have the say then one parent can do it alone. If for example after a difficulty with an important decision, a judge can render in their decision that going forward, all health decisions will be left up to one of the parents and that would avoid the parents from having to go back to court repeatedly. So that’s that. And now basically our courts are back up and running. They’re working hard to make everything safe at court, putting up plexi glass in the courtroom even though before family law was huis clos, which means it was closed to the public, other family lawyers were allowed to be present in the room, so this is no longer the case. So, it’s really just the parties who are involved who are allowed to be present in the room. Masks, gloves, sterilizing everything. They’re really trying to make the courthouse a very safe place to be and of course, some of us still have to be there so they want to make sure that they’re doing it and accommodating it and making everybody feel comfortable and safe while they’re there. And on that note, even the supreme court of Canada is implementing zoom and offering ways that the public can watch in on certain hearings and work that’s going on behind the scenes as well. So were really started to see a shift in the court system right now. We still have video trials going on as well. So, there’s a mix of both, a hybrid, I think they’re trying to keep cases that don’t have to be physically in court on video or zoom calls but what it is allowing our clients to do is continue with their proceedings. So, we were kind of halted at one point so now were back to having the ability to do the work that we need to do, to resume divorces and files that were just starting when Covid hit. So now were starting to see things normalize a nit
Marie: there are still physical appearances in certain cases by lawyers in the court?
Sheri: ya so there are always exceptions of course. Some people don’t have the technology or the ability to do that, some of the cases are very sensitive and they’re better done in person. So, it really depends on the situation but in general they’re trying to keep as many people out of the courthouse as they can. Court of appeal was doing some video. There are other cases that are happening next week in court of appeal those are in person. I would say the silver lining has been that this has forced the Quebec courthouse to go digital. And it was something that hasn’t been done, it was an almost insurmountable task to be done and were still not fully there yet. But it certainly initiated something way before the plans were in place to take this digital leap based on the current times but I do think that part of it will never go back to the full capacity of being there in the courthouse. I think that now they’ve found that it does work, I think it’s more efficient for our clients. Its more cost effective. Some days we would have to go to court we would show up at 830 in the morning and your case doesn’t get heard until 330 pm. Now when I’ve had cases on the orle in court and were doing it remotely, I carry on with my fay, continue with my other files and when I get the call, I drop everything else I’m doing to give my all to that file. So it’s really, for clients, it’s very interesting shift and change because it will make litigation a little more affordable and those court days won’t have such a big bill at the end of it of lawyers literally having to sit there and wait their turn so that’s a huge shift I would say. We are doing swearing affidavits and commissioning by facetime. Again, to keep everybody safe. So, we have a commissioner that works with us who will facetime our clients, will commission them, sign it scan it and send it back and its working. That’s really the positive coming from this. And I think that one of the really interesting things is that we’ve looked to other justice systems and we’ve said, how can we make ours more efficient. I had a client who came from Germany and she used to say we had an appointment and she said you show up either sharp or on time and your session starts. She couldn’t believe that we waited until, I believe it was 4:05, to get heard and the courts close at 4:30. So this has forced us to lead a a path to a digital world, to make things more efficient for our clients, to make things more affordable an di really think that we will certainly keep a large part of this as we keep going and I think it’s also less burdensome for them on the courthouse as well, less physical files that are there. This has shifted our legal community forsure in Quebec I think for the better and it will be interesting to see how things change as time goes on.
Marie: it’s funny you made reference to how the Germans are on time, because in one of the Jason Bourne movies, he plans his whole escape based on the timing of the German trains like to the second
Sheri: this is next level for us, we explain to clients so how much is a court date going to cost, I have to shrug my shoulders and say I don’t know it depends when were called and heard. Even parking at the courthouse. It saves clients on this cost if we don’t have to go in and its more environmentally friendly. There’s just so many pluses to it and like I said we relearning and changing with it and evolving every day to see what’s new but I think this will be a change for the better for our legal system forsure
Marie: oh yes, this Covid thig yes it’s a challenge but did it challenge our creative juices and sometimes we do come up with something better. I have a question, extra alimony, when the father fives x amount for the children who are with the mom, the divorce happened when they were very young, they did not foresee that the children will need glasses or eve braces. These are extra costs. Can the mom claim them?
Sheri: how long after?
Marie: I don’t have that info
Sheri: so look again, anything that has to do with the kids has to be evaluated on what’s in their best interest but in Quebec we have a rule not to go back more than 3 years. So, let’s say there were special expenses, that what we call those braces, orthodontist, ballet, guitar what have you, those are considered special expenses, they’re outside of child support. Child support is to cover basis expenses such as lodging, shelter, clothing and food. This is something extra, special expenses
Marie: attends une minute, our daughter needs glasses, ca c’est un extraordinaire?
Sheri: I’ve heard glasses be on both lists, special expenses and not, lets treat it either way, whatever list its on, if a parent is owed something and their insurance doesn’t cover the full amount, the balance of what’s not covered by the glasses is to be shared on a pro rata basis of both parents income. So, one parent makes 70% of the other and the other is 30%, one parent pays 30% of the glasses, the other one pays 70%. But let’s say bills have been accumulated for 8 years and the parent who is paying it never submitted it to the other parent, the court is going to say its 3 years, you go back 3 years. The parties can agree to go back more but the Code tells us 3 years. The same for child support. We encourage our clients, if there’s something you’re owed money for, submit the bill to the other parent, submit it within 30 days and usually you would request payment back anywhere between 10 and 30 says to get the refund. But if you’re not on top of it and you’re not sending the bills to the other parent, then you’re like oh wow it’s been 8 years you owe me $5000, no one’s going to appreciate you very much and the courts are going to say it’s fair to go back 3 years not more. So everyone stay on top of your bills, if you want your daughter to switch from ballet to dance or our son to switch from ballet to dance, well then you have to speak to the other parent about it because then the other parent is going to say no I don’t agree in dance I only agreed to ballet, I’m not paying for it. So, you have to have the prior consent from the other parent before registering the child. If you don’t, then you’re on the hook to pay for it yourself. So again, open communication and dialogue between the parents, most important thing. And stay on it
Marie: where can someone reach you should they want to start a conversation
Sheri: they can call our office line 438-383-5458, were all working socially distant and were all available. And for the books and videos, on our website www.spuntcarin.com and if you go to our blog section, it’s our most recent article that we posted. We really try and provide to our clients resources for parenting.