The landscape of family law in Ontario continues to evolve, with several significant rulings in the last 12 months shaping the field. This article highlights their impact on family law practice and offering insights for legal professionals in Ontario.
1. Vaccination Decisions: J.N. v. C.G., 2023 ONCA 77
A pivotal decision by the Ontario Court of Appeal in J.N. v. C.G. addressed the contentious issue of children’s vaccination against COVID-19. The Court established a presumption in favor of Health Canada-approved vaccinations, placing the burden of proof on the parent opposing vaccination. This ruling significantly influences decision-making authority in vaccination disputes, emphasizing the role of regulatory approval as an indicator of vaccine safety and effectiveness.
2. Rejecting the Tort of Family Violence: Ahluwalia v. Ahluwalia, 2023 ONCA 476
In a notable judgment, the Ontario Court of Appeal rejected the creation of a new tort of family violence and coercive control in Ahluwalia v. Ahluwalia. The Court found existing torts—such as battery, assault, and intentional infliction of emotional distress—adequate to address family harm. The decision underscores the legal system’s approach to intimate partner violence and its complexities. The damages awarded were reduced, emphasizing the sufficiency of compensatory and aggravated damages over punitive damages. Leave to the Supreme Court of Canada has been requested by the wife, so stay tuned for further developments on this important issue.
3. Trust Claims in Equalization: Karatzouglou v. Commisso, 2023 ONCA 738
The Court of Appeal for Ontario addressed the issue of trust claims in marital property disputes in Karatzouglou v. Commisso. It was decided that a spouse cannot make a trust claim on behalf of the other for the purposes of equalization. This ruling clarifies the standing in trust claims within family law and emphasizes the private nature of such claims.
4. Occupation Rent: Chhom v. Green, 2023 ONCA 692
The Court of Appeal’s decision in Chhom v. Green marked a shift in the approach to occupation rent in family law. The Court held that occupation rent need not be “exceptional” to be reasonable. This ruling could influence future decisions regarding the occupation rent, particularly in the context of high rental prices and interest rates, encouraging swifter resolution of disputes over jointly owned homes.
5. Informal Domestic Contracts: Anderson v. Anderson, 2023 SCC 13
In Anderson v. Anderson, the Supreme Court of Canada provided guidance on informal separation agreements that do not meet formal statutory requirements. The Court emphasized the importance of assessing such agreements for validity based on ordinary contract law principles and the substantive fairness in line with the statutory scheme. This decision aids in understanding how courts might approach “kitchen table” agreements in property division contexts.
These cases from the last 12 months highlight the dynamic nature of family law in Ontario. They demonstrate the judiciary’s adaptation to contemporary challenges, from vaccination disputes to the recognition of intimate partner violence. Legal practitioners in Ontario should closely follow these developments, as they offer valuable insights into evolving judicial trends and their implications for family law practice.
Let’s continue to elevate the practice of family law in Ontario!
Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog post is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice. Consult with a qualified family law attorney for advice regarding your specific situation. Goldhart Mediation & Arbitration is not responsible for any actions taken based on the information presented in this blog.