Tag: family dispute resolution
Attending a Virtual Conference: Insights from the Family Dispute Resolution Institute of Ontario Conference
On November 16, 2020, the Family Dispute Resolution Institute of Ontario (“FDRIO”) held its annual Conference. Hull & Hull LLP was proud to once again sponsor this excellent event. Due to social distancing requirements the Conference was completely virtual, including presentations, break-out sessions, and wellness breaks.
Although the Conference is geared toward family lawyers and professionals working in the field of family dispute resolution, estates matters are often impacted by family tension and disagreement. Consequently, family dispute resolution strategies and insights are valuable tools for any estates practitioner and particularly for estates litigators.
Addressing Anti-Black Racism and Confronting Unconscious Bias
This year’s keynote speaker was Moya Teklu, a member of Legal Aid Ontario’s General Counsel’s Office and Adjunct Professor at the University of Toronto – Faculty of Law. Ms. Teklu delivered an impactful presentation entitled “Addressing Anti-Black Racism” and provided tips for approaching discussions about race, racism, privilege, and marginalization.
Unconscious bias refers to the rapid judgements about other people and situations that a person makes without awareness of their own thought process. These judgements are formed based on a person’s lived experience, cultural context, and personal background. Legal professionals have a responsibility to develop cultural competencies and awareness of unconscious biases to prevent their interference with the lawyer-client relationship and advocacy. Ms. Teklu’s presentation incorporated many interactive exercises to teach legal professionals how to critically confront and to reduce their unconscious biases in order to combat anti-Black racism within our profession, the legal system, and the community at large.
Best Practices for Technology in the Time of COVID-19
Legal technology has become a hot topic over the past nine months as legal professionals have adapted to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. While technology has allowed legal professionals to carry on work during these unprecedented times, many of the tools we use every day can increase law firms’ susceptibility to cybersecurity threats.
Speakers Colm Brannigan, Mauro Gris, Steven Bradley, and Vicky Ringuette addressed these concerns directly in their presentation entitled “A Brave New Techy World – Advanced Options for Your Practice.” The Presenters touched on product guidance when using platforms including Google Hangouts, Zoom, and Cisco WebEx in order to create safe meeting environments for practitioners and their clients. Some security tips for video conferences include avoiding taking screenshots, using secure passwords, and regularly updating software.
Hull & Hull LLP congratulates FDRIO on yet another informative Conference. For more information on the Conference, visit FDRIO’s website.
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We often hear of the importance of forging and maintaining good relations with the in-laws. Hence, wishing to keep everyone united, and the spouse happy, we avert our gaze when the one in-law overindulges at the Christmas party, we bite our tongue when another in-law refers to us as “hey, you in the yellow”, and we put on a stiff smile when yet another in-law visits us on our birthday to ask for a loan. In one recent Ontario case, however, we see the grim consequences of having too good a relationship with one’s in-laws.
The cautionary case of Kent v. Kent arose from a legal dispute between the deceased’s son-in-law and her grandchildren. Perhaps unaware of her son-in-law’s inclinations towards insatiability and ingratitude, the deceased left equal shares of her home to the three eventual litigants. By and by, the son-in-law sought a declaration that he was entitled to a much larger share. He argued that since his mother-in-law had registered his late wife as a joint tenant (the transfer was gratuitous), and he and his late wife had moved in a decade after, the house “became their matrimonial home”. He relied upon subsection 26(1) of the Family Law Act:
“If a spouse dies owning an interest in a matrimonial home as a joint tenant with a third person and not with the other spouse, the joint tenancy shall be deemed to have been severed immediately before the time of death.”
The grandchildren countered with the presumption of resulting trust. According to this legal principle, despite legal ownership, property should be returned, or result, to the person who actually paid for the property (the beneficial owner). The presumption can be rebutted if the transferee can show that the transferor intended to gift the property (Pecore v. Pecore).
The Court ruled in favour of the grandchildren, finding that because the transfer was made from a parent to a child, with no consideration, the presumption of resulting trust applied. The son-in-law, who could not muster any evidence in his favour, did not rebut the presumption. The Court also ascribed significance to the Will itself:
“The provisions of the will and transfer made by Marian in July 2015 suggest that she believed that she was the sole owner of the property, and in a position to dispose of it as she did.”
This ruling might provide some comfort to those who have invited their married, adult children to live in their homes. It is a bitter fact, though, that the son-in-law’s conduct can bring no good to the reputation of in-laws, and that if his example is followed, we might see more in-laws receiving bequests of “thirty pieces of silver” or trusts comprised of stockings full of coal.
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Suzana Popovic-Montag and Devin McMurtry
We were proud to support the second annual Family Dispute Resolution conference, “FDRevolution,” held by the Family Dispute Resolution Institute of Ontario (FDRIO) last week. The FDRIO mandate includes providing information for the public and legal professionals about family dispute resolution (FDR) processes and options.
The primary focus of the FDRIO is, unsurprisingly, family law. There is a lot, however, that those of us who practice in estates can learn from FDR. We have blogged many times about the importance of family dynamics in resolving estates disputes. Last week’s conference provided a lot of valuable information about managing family relationships and effectively avoiding and resolving family disputes.
Remember culture affects everything
Baldev Mutta and Amandeep Kaur of Punjabi Community Health Services, Peel Region gave a presentation on cultural competence. They reminded the audience that culture affects decision-making, communication, and social interactions.
Legal practitioners must be aware of how culture affects their own perceptions and a client’s perceptions of a legal issue. It is important for lawyers and mediators to suspend judgement and recognize how a client’s cultural lens is different from the dominant “Canadian” culture. FDR practitioners can better help clients by asking clients to identify and describe their perceptions of the conflict or issue and then determining what values and beliefs led to that perception. Understanding how and why a client is making certain decisions can help lead to a successful resolution.
The importance of Emotional Intelligence
The keynote speaker Karen BK Chan spoke about the importance of emotional intelligence (EI) and provided some practical tools to use in dispute resolution. Chan suggested that EI is twice as important as IQ or technical skills, which she described as “threshold capabilities.” A high EI can help lawyers and mediators manage tense situations. Some practical tips for strengthening EI include: listen to , ask for, and reflect on feelings; promote empathy between parties in order to facilitate dialogue; and to name and normalize strong emotions.
For information about the FDRIO and news and events, see their website.
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