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Create a New Beginning: Filing Divorce in Ontario

A lot of people believe filing a divorce could be a complicated process

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Canada, July 26, 2017: When you are going through turmoil while in a marriage that is not working out for some reasons, you helplessly keep having an urge to put an end to it. A lot of people keep the option of getting a divorce in the back of their mind in a fear of losing the relationship and being tagged as a divorcee. This fear and holding on to a rotting relationship might blind you to only make you suffer more.

A lot of people believe filing a divorce could be a complicated process. And this makes them want to rather give another chance to the relationship. You can’t change a person’s disposition. After a chain of “another chances” that you might give to your relationship, at some point divorce might be the only alternative.

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To be eligible to file a divorce, you should meet the three criteria. If you were legally married in Canada or some other country; you believe there is no possibility of getting back together with your spouse; and you and/or your spouse have been in Ontario at least for 12 months prior to your application, you are eligible for a divorce. If you are not legally married, The Divorce Act of Canada doesn’t apply to you and you are not eligible for divorce apparently.

Is Filing Divorce a difficult task in Canada? Click To Tweet
Types of services lawyers can provide

While The Divorce Act is a federal law, every province and territory is individually responsible for the process of getting a divorce. So, make sure you are filling the right form of your territory or province. Most of the work related to the application can be dealt by your lawyer.

But if you and your spouse live in a country that doesn’t recognize your Canadian marriage, there can be an exception to the residency requirement. Under Civil Marriage act, you may be able to end your marriage by applying for it in Ontario with the help of existing forms from Ministry of Attorney General. If you and you partner are not married and want to separate, you can negotiate a “separation agreement” and child custody related issues under the laws of Ontario.

One important thing you should keep in mind is that Civil Marriage Act only allows you to end your marriage. If you are not a Canadian resident, you can’t get divorce in Canada. In order to end your marriage through Civil Marriage Act, you need to apply to a Superior Court of the territory or province where you and your spouse got married. After ending your marriage through The Civil Marriage Act, other issues, like child custody need to be dealt with separately.

Some of the legally accepted reasons for you to get a divorce are:

  1. You and your spouse have separated and lived apart for a year and consider that your marriage is over.
  2. Your spouse has committed adultery and you have not and would not forgive him/her.
  3. Your spouse has abused you physically, mentally, emotionally, or sexually.

Before you proceed to file a divorce or the starting process of divorce, it would be better if you seek advice from a legal expert in family law prior to it. The family law expert will break the laws down for you and explain you what and what doesn’t apply to your case and how to go about it. He or she will also give you a clear idea about the rights that you hold. You can refer to firms like Hummingbird Law that have talented and professional lawyers and legal advisors.

To begin with the process of filing divorce, you should first fill the divorce application and submit it at a courthouse in Ontario. Follow all the court rules and pay the court fees that you are required to.  In order to get a divorce, you have to pay a certain cost. This is generally something that the legal expert you talk to would let you know about.

Mediation is one of the ways through which you can resolve issues related to child custody, division of property, child and spousal support etc. If you plan to hire a private mediator, you should know that a mediator may be of any profession, like a social-worker, psychologist etc.

If you want to seek legal advice from an expert in family law, at Hummingbird Law, you can find lawyers who work to resolve family related issues in a fair and respectful manner. Their expertise coupled with a rich experience in divorce and separation related affairs make their service top-notch. To know more about family law in Ontario, you can refer to a booklet about related laws that might affect you when you and your spouse separate. It is available from the Ministry of the Attorney General in nine languages.

 

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Muslim Man Divorces Twelve Wives, Murders the Thirteenth; How Safe are Married Muslim Women under the Religious Law?

How is the government planning to protect the married Muslim women in the country, who are often desolated by their husbands?

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MUSLIM MAN
How safe are Muslim women? Wikimedia

Uttar Pradesh, October 9, 2017: Whoever said the number thirteen is unlucky was right. A horrific case of a Muslim man brutally murdering his wife has now come forward.

According to reports, police have arrested Mohammad Mustkeem, a resident of Raebareli, a small town in northern India’s Uttar Pradesh after he allegedly murdered his 13th wife.  While cases of murders within marriages are not new, this particular case is extremely peculiar.

Mustkeem is a practising Muslim and had been married thirteen times. While he had divorced all his former twelve wives, the thirteenth wife was cruelly hacked to death.

The victim and Mustkeem had been married for over four years and also had a three-month-old child. However, the two were believed to fight a lot, because of which Mustkeem had been contemplating another divorce.

But before the 13th divorce could happen, the victim went missing, which created alarm in the Pure Kale Khan locality in the district. Upon search, her body was recovered from the fields near Chulamau village in the district.

According to the police, the victim’s body bore several injury marks that indicate that she had been tortured and strangled to death.

Consequently, the police arrested Mohammad Mustkeem on charges of murdering his own wife.

While no official information has been obtained as of now, locals believe Mustkeem was planning to re-marry for the fourteenth time and had even sought a bride.

While we condemn the victim’s murder, the case involving Mustkeem and his multiple wives has once again brought Triple Talaq under the spotlight, which had been rife in the country till the past few weeks.

Before the verdict was announced on the declaration of Triple Talaq as unconstitutional, census figures revealed that for every Muslim man divorced in India, four Muslim women had been previously divorced. This is also evident from Mustkeem and his former 12 wives.

As per the law, Muslim men could divorce their wives for any possible trivial reason. By contrast, the woman was expected to almost always avail the husband’s consent for a divorce. This robbed women the right to have a say, and to have a secure livelihood and instead granted men the permission to blatantly indulge in matrimony, which is evident from Mustkeem’s life.

While a constitutional ban on the practice has gathered mix responses, the question remains how the change will seep down to the very roots of the society. And how is the government planning to protect the married Muslim women in the country, who are often desolated by their husbands? Until then, cases like Mustkeem and his twelve divorced wives can be expected to continue making headlines.

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Triple Talaq verdict is a small victory. But there are more battles to be won

Are the divorced Indian women getting their due?

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Triple Talaq was a harmful practice faced by Muslim women
Triple Talaq was a harmful practice faced by Muslim women. Pixabay
  • Women are asked to compromise for the sake of family honor, children, not being financially independent and many such reasons
  • It’s a tough decision for Indian women to file for a divorce even if their marriages have been exploitative, oppressive or unhappy
  • The problems are most dreadful for women whose marriages have not been formally ended

 New Delhi, September 3, 2017: Supreme Court’s verdict on Triple Talaq case is like a ray of sunshine. The verdict has been welcomed, applauded and celebrated all across India by the people who advocate for women’s rights. Judgement on Triple Talaq has been possible because of courage shown by strong Muslim women to change the course of their lives and a long struggle of groups such as the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan who did not put their foot down in spite of having to face pressure, threats from the Muslim community and outside of it.

Reactions women in country face when they consider getting a divorce

There are many other societies where higher rates of divorce are often equated with an expression of choice that women possess and the liberation of women. But, sadly this is not the case with India as divorce evokes dark, shameful reactions, taunts, rage, and pity from the society, often a woman is blamed for it. It is not considered as a suitable option for women suffering from unhappy marriages, they are asked to work it out, to solve the differences even if there’s no easy solution to it. They are asked to compromise for the sake of family honor, children, not being financially independent and many such reasons.

Why do Indian women hesitate from taking a Divorce?

It’s a tough decision for Indian women to file for a divorce even if their marriages have been exploitative, oppressive or unhappy. One reason for this could be the low status of women or not enough respect and value given to them in the society, especially rural India. Another reason is that the women who have low income don’t spend their independent share on themselves out of guilt, they utilize most it in taking care of their homes and save the rest. Also, some regressive and unequal practices are still going on like inheritance, asset ownership which means that no matter which religion a woman belongs to they are denied access to owning assets.

It means that most often than not an end of marriage leaves women with a financial crisis, along with emotional pain, on top of that they not only have to manage their own life but also their children’s without much financial aid.

Divorce Percentage

According to 2011 census on Indians marital status, “among divorced Indian women, 68% are Hindu, and 23.3%, Muslim.” This implies that more Hindu women are getting divorced than Muslim women.

The State governments have failed to empower Muslim women, issues related to their rights and needs are hardly addressed by politicians. Thus their social and economic conditions are degrading- they have unequal access to job, education and other opportunities in life.

More failed marriages were recorded in rural India with 8.5 lakh divorced persons and in urban India, the number is 5.03 lakh divorced persons. Maharashtra has the highest number of divorced citizens which is 2.09 lakh persons. The state which holds the record of lowest failed marriages has 1,330 divorcees.

Negatives of Triple Talaq

A Muslim man being able to end a marriage by a means of disrespecting and utterly irresponsible manner of triple talaq (uttering the word talaq 3 times, it can be oral, written or electronic). The practice of triple talaq was gender biased and gave unequal rights to Muslim women. So, it’s a victory worth celebrating that this shameful practice has culminated legally.

Why is Separation more harmful?

More dissolved marriages in India happen through separation and not a formal divorce. It’s a growing concern as separation (abandonment by a husband) is more common for women in all religions than a divorce. It puts women in a more dangerous spot as they can’t ask for alimony as there is no legality connected to it, which further weakens their financial status. Also, their husbands take away their freedom to remarry. According to census data, “More women than men in India are separated (out of a marriage without a formal divorce).”

So, though triple talaq was definitely a truly intolerable practice, it is only one of the ways through which married women could be abandoned. There are women across different communities who continue to face problems of abandonment, also called separation without having a proper means to survive or lead a decent life.

Also Read: Ishrat Jahan, a Triple Talaq Petitioner Writes to West Bengal CM Seeking Security After Supreme Court Verdict

Effectiveness of Divorce Laws

Marital dissolution in India comes under various laws but more often than not, the decisions don’t benefit women in a big way.  No matter how strong or secure is the legal framework, the single legal right that an Indian woman has after getting a divorce- the right of maintenance from her spouse or alimony. But maintenance or alimony reaches them much late due to the ‘prolonged legal processes’ and they are sometimes provided with very small and negligible amounts. Another loophole is that the court doesn’t ensure regular payment from their husbands.

Obviously, the problems are most dreadful for women whose marriages have not been formally ended, who are separated and not divorced from their husbands. Even for those women who have a formal divorce, the courts (be it family courts or formal courts) turn out to be grueling and intimidating places to seek justice, especially for the ones who are illiterate, not much educated, or belong to poor families.

Struggles faced during and after a divorce

Taking Divorce is a tedious process with repeated court trips, cases getting postponed, and lawyers charging heavy fees and most important but sidelined factor- to deal with patriarchal attitudes shown by lawyers as well as judges. All these reasons contribute to women feeling helpless with wasted efforts, and even lead to dissuasion of women (by family, relatives, friends, lawyers) to pursue the cases after a point.  Those women, who have taken up employment (for financial security) after the end of marriage, even if their employer pays them very less, they get little sympathy from the courts regarding alimony.

This should be the focal point in viewing the triple talaq judgment by the court. Muslim women have been successful in getting triple talaq scrapped by law but the war is not over yet. Indian women still have to face difficulties in getting some alimony or maintenance which is due to them, on which they have a deserving right.

Also Read: Namaz Offering Mamata Banerjee Remains Silent on Triple Talaq Verdict

Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act

But, there has been a setback for Muslim women, we are talking about the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act 1986, also known as MWA. This was widely seen as a patriarchal response in response to the clamor by the Muslim men to the Supreme Court judgment in the Shah Bano case in which her former husband was forced to pay continued alimony to her.

“The MWA drastically limited the husband’s liability to his former wife. It stated that once a woman’s iddat expenses (covering three months’ subsistence) had been paid and she had received her mehr (dowry) and any other money or property that had been gifted to her at the time of marriage, the husband had no further financial responsibility towards her.”

This law came was criticized by women activists and others who were sensitive towards women’s rights. It was called a discriminatory law that singled out Muslim women and deprived them of maintenance rights which are available to all the other divorced Indian women. They were taken for granted and the act had some harmful consequences. It encouraged a higher rate of divorce in Muslim community as it allowed Men to get away from the marriage without providing any maintenance for their wife’s survival.

Revision of Act

As per MWA, the husband should provide “reasonable and fair provision” during the 3 month iddat period. A clause was further added in 2001 by a Supreme Court judgment that “during the iddat period, a Muslim man is liable to make a payment to his ex-wife that will secure her ability to sustain herself in the future. As a result, courts began to require men to give their ex-wives substantial lump-sum amounts or to transfer some material assets such as land, a house, or gold and jewelry.”

The implementation of the law made divorced Muslim women heave a sigh of relief and will force the ex-husbands to give a substantial lump-sum amount to their wives. This would thus release the divorced Muslim women from worrying over the unreliability and uncertainty of periodic payments (by law) for maintenance.  This might make them even better off than non-Muslim counterparts. But in most other cases of divorce, lack of financial support from husbands remains a big concern for them.

The war is not over

The point we are trying to make is that the problems faced by divorced Indian women are plenty, and they are because of the social, cultural, economic and legal practices that are still present in all religions. This Supreme Court verdict should be reminders for all of us to take note of this small victory, to keep in mind the loopholes present in Divorce rights still and should also motivate us to take up more such battles in future in order to make our country more gender sensitive. So, that both the genders can live a life of peace and dignity.


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Today’s Social Issues and their Answers to Children

Parents can extract the deeper emotions that the child may not be expressed openly

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Social Issues
Professor Blatt explains the need for having a regular open dialogue with children about social issues. Wikimedia Commons
  • Parenting is a challenging part for most of an individual’s life
  • It is important to have an open dialogue with the children about social issues and stress
  • Discussing difficult topics help children understand the issue and face them more confidently

July 29, 2017: An article recently uploaded by Merck Manual answers parenting questions regarding the social issues that children see in daily life. Steven D. Blatt, Professor of Pediatrics at the State University of New York, answers the best ways to talk out problems with children.

Also Read: Poverty has Remarkable Influence on the Behavior of Children: Study

Children entirely depend on their parent for survival and protection. And the parent sacrifices the entire life for the same. In the growing up process, it is important that children are also provided with love and care. At the same time, they must be toughened up and aware of the potential issues they will face in near future. Coping effectively with stress should be taught at the very beginning to the child.

Prof. Blatt highly recommends active social interaction. What is important is not just interactions inside the home but mostly outside. The externals may include relatives, friends, people at school, parks, religious centers, and other public interactions. Children tend to pick up stress coping ability by handling these interactions. Children also quite remarkably observe adults and observe how they handle stress.

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Along the growing up process, internal conflicts that emerge and cause major disturbance to family structure and order has a deep influence on the child. Challenges such as illness or divorce challenge a child’s ability to cope and further destabilize emotions and social development. An illness, which is quite common, puts the child under distress and naturally impacts his performance in academics and extracurricular activities.

internal conflicts that emerge and cause major disturbance to family structure and order has a deep influence on the child. Click To Tweet

It is not just the child but his family that is stressed. Taking care of a child that is ill is a suffering like no other. Handling a child who has a serious behavioral problem is a major challenge. At this time, support should never be inadequate to the child. With family support comes a sense of security. Essential resources must at all times be employed into taking care of the child.

Life events such as divorce, illness, bullying and other social issues seem scary at a young age. Moreover, events that may not have a direct effect on children are also potentially worrying. Natural disasters, terrorist attacks, international wars, mass executions cause anxiety and fear among children. Subsequently, these fears impact the child for a long period.

Prof Blatt accepts that talking out difficult topics with young children is complicated and not the most chosen approach. However, he suggests open discussion. Open dialogue helps the children overcome their fears of talking about uncomfortable and unpleasant topics. These unnecessary fears which are constant at the back of the mind are thus eliminated as children talk transparently with their guardians.

A child should be able to comprehend that anxiety is a very common phenomenon. They must learn that anxiety is only natural and that it always lessens over time. Steven Blatt believes that regularly discussing such topics with children starting from an early range often results in children being automatically more open about such discussions as adolescents.

A child should be able to comprehend that anxiety is a very common phenomenon. Click To Tweet

The professor further suggests how the discussion should take place. Complex and unpleasant topics should be discussed in a quiet surrounding. The place of conversation must be safe and comfortable. But most importantly, it should be that time of the day when the child is really interested in hearing what you have to say. With this interest, understanding drastically improves.

The parent has to remain calm, open, honest and straightforward. Moreover, all the attention of the parent’s mind should be on the topic at hand. Interestingly, nodding your head when appropriate and even using the phrase “I understand” boost the child’s confidence and encourages the child to confide deeper and further. Retrospective and reflecting on what the child thinks is a big bonus to the ever improving relationship of parent and offspring.

Asking how the child feels encourages a fruitful discussion. It also brings out more emotions on the part of the children. Through this, parents can extract the deeper emotions that the child may not be expressed openly. Offering reassurances and explaining the present situation is always beneficial for the child. Blatt says that parents often overestimate the power of reassurance and that is often the big mistake that is committed.

Also Read: No Parenthood for aspiring Single Parents, says Proposed Surrogacy Law

Another conversation that threatens the open dialogue is when a parent has to address difficult aspects of child’s behavior. For instance, the addiction to drugs or other substances. It may get difficult for the parent to choose a suitable approach. However, the professor suggests being direct is the most effective approach. In a single conversation, the parent’s love, care and at the same time concern must be reflected in their phrases. Then, it should be followed up with hope and support. Also important to keep in mind is allowing the child to speak and explain his thoughts.

Lastly, involving therapists and counselors at difficult times is beneficial to both the parties to the relationship.

– prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394