For almost 20 years, our DIVORCEmate News & Views newsletter has been an important source of information for our 7,000+ software users - product news, productivity hints, seminar schedules, updates and new product announcements, Judicial quotes, Family Law and technology information, humour and more. Please ensure that this e-mail is circulated to all family law professionals including: lawyers, judges, mediators, professors, accountants, law clerks, support staff and students. We will no longer mail a printed blue newsletter. Click here if you no longer wish to receive this newsletter.
Tools One Update: An important Tools One update will be released as soon as the final SSAG paper is available to the profession. Please note that no action is required by the user unless you have turned off the default "automatic update" feature in your DIVORCEmate One software, or your Annual Subscription has expired. Our DIVORCEmate One software updates are transparent and automatic.
DIVORCEmate One users who have purchased update CD's will receive a CD in the mail
More SSAG News
The Spousal Support Guidelines in B.C. - The Next Generation
Recently Professors Rollie Thompson and Carol Rogerson addressed family lawyers in British Columbia at a CLE program and presented an updated paper on the current and future status of the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines... we have that paper for you.
We especially like the following regarding "restructuring":
"... The calculations provided there are very simplified and do not take into account the time-value of money, the various future contingencies that could affect the value of awards over time, or tax consequences. In practice, more sophisticated calculations may take such factors into account. Computer software programs may assist in some of the calculations required by restructuring. See for example DIVORCEmate's new SUMmate Quantum v. Duration Analyzer."
Here is paper's conclusion:
"As we scramble to complete this paper, we have to remark on the richness of the British Columbia case law using the Advisory Guidelines. Lawyers and judges have tried to use the Guidelines to achieve sensible results in a wide range of cases. But the cases so far still reveal a lack of consistent reference to entitlement, restructuring, duration and exceptions as ways to maintain flexibility within the general scheme of the Advisory Guidelines.
Our purpose in this B.C. paper has been to encourage lawyers to go beyond the ranges for amounts, beyond the formulas, to boldly go where no lawyer has gone before. In this next generation of use, lawyers should make use of these four "useful tools" - entitlement, restructuring, duration, exceptions - to analyze hard cases and to make more sophisticated arguments under the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines."
This latest B.C. paper is a must read for all family law professionals!
Ontario Court of Appeal Likes SSAG in Fisher
In a recent decision, the Ontario Court of Appeal positively endorsed the SSAG and expressed optimism that "with experience, the Guidelines will become accepted as a reliable tool for resolution of many cases, subject always to the important caveat that due consideration be given to the parties' individual circumstances."
The Ontario Court of Appeal also confirmed what Rollie, Carol and we at DIVORCEmate have stressed all along: they (SSAG) are not just formulas or software calculations; if SSAG are applicable, then you must apply the complete SSAG to the particular situation at hand. The software calculation is only one component.
They [SSAG] must be considered in context and applied in their entirety, including the specific consideration of any applicable variables and, where necessary, restructuring.
This means considering such issues as entitlement, location within the ranges, restructuring and exceptions, including ceilings and floors, based on the actual facts of each individual case!
On the issue of the appellate standard of review, the Ontario Court of Appeal had this to say:
... when considered in their entirety and subject to their limitations, the Guidelines also assist in informing an appellate standard of review ...
In my view, when counsel fully address the Guidelines (SSAG) in argument, and a trial judge decides to award a quantum of support outside the suggested range, appellate review will be assisted by the inclusion of reasons explaining why the Guidelines do not provide an appropriate result. This is no different than a trial court distinguishing a significant authority relied upon by a party.
As an aside, the Ontario Court of Appeal also confirmed the SCC's position on review orders, generally discouraging their use:
Review orders in effect turn an initial order into a long-term interim order made after trial. Accordingly, they should be the exception, not the norm. They are appropriate when a specified uncertainty about a party's circumstances at the time of trial will become certain within an identifiable timeframe. When one is granted, it should include specifics regarding the issue about which there is uncertainty and when and how the trial judge anticipates that uncertainty will be resolved.
SUMmate Quantum v. Duration Analyzer is the only family law software product that can calculate lump sum equivalent calculations, as well as, trading off quantum for duration and duration for quantum based on personal income tax, the cost of money over time and other actuarial considerations. These trade-off methods may be applicable in any restructuring scenario.
New Child Input in Tools One (Version: 2007.1214) by Simon Knowles
One of the most common questions we get from Tools One users is how to properly input the children for different custody situations. These living
situations can get quite complicated, with some of the children residing with one parent and some shared equally between the two households. In an effort to
make the software easier to use and more intuitive for our users, we recently added a "Child Input Help" window accessed from the "Children" tab; the bright red button is hard to miss!
"Child Input Help" makes it easy for users to input the children for many different custody situations; simply enter the information for each child including their age, who they reside with and whether there is a table amount payable for that child, and then click "OK" and Tools One will transfer the information in the relevant input areas on the "Children" tab. Presto, you're done! Now even the most complicated custody situations are easy!
We are redesigning our website in order to reorganize the content and give our users more access to information.
Among the enhancements will be a "My Account" area for DIVORCEmate users where firms will be able to view and amend their DIVORCEmate account information.
Pay Per Use account holders will be able to view file activation and deposit records and make account deposits.
Annual Subscription account holders will be able to view and amend their subscription products and number of licenses, and see a current list of registered users.
A new "For the Public" area is under development, which will provide members of the public with paid access to a simplified online child and spousal support calculator, and free access to a library of internet links and a search tool to help them find a family lawyer in their local area who uses DIVORCEmate software.
Please watch for our new website during the 2Q 2008.
We are currently in the process of preparing a Marriage Contract, which will be added as a new module to our Precedents One software in the 2Q of 2008! If you have any precedents, suggestions or clauses that you would like to see incorporated into our precedent, please feel free to send them to Christine Montgomery at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All pay Per Use accounts will receive this new Precedents One module at no additional charge. All Annual Subscribers may purchase the new Marriage Contract for a small fee. We will let you know the cost and availability shortly. Please watch our website www.divorcemate.com for more information.
This summer, DIVORCEmate Software was a major contributor to Gilda's Club "Summer in the City" camp for children affected by cancer. As well, we were a major sponsor of the Gilda's Club 8th Annual Cutler Classic Golf Tournament. www.gildasclubtoronto.org
We also support other charities including a small and worthwhile charity called, The People Bridge Charitable Foundation which funds small, yet essential projects around the world. www.peoplebridgecharity.ca
DIVORCEmate is pleased to donate our software to worthy not-for-profit or charitable organizations who offer services directly related to helping people involved in the process of family law... our latest donation was to the YWCA Vancouver and Battered Women Support Services, Vancouver.
DOCUdavit Solutions and the Law Society of Upper Canada by Sid Soil
As many of our users are aware, Sid Soil formerly of DIVORCEmate Software Inc., has moved over to our sister company DOCUdavit Solutions Inc. Sid's company is busy providing scanning services and litigation support software to the legal profession across Canada.
The Law Society of Upper Canada comments on scanning your closed files?
We are often asked what the Law Society has to say about scanning and destroying closed files. This practice tip appeared in the Ontario Reports - Practice Tips on October 13, 2006 and on the LSUC website.
Q. To save storage costs, I would like to convert closed client files or documents to electronic or some other non-paper form. Can I do that?
A. ... the Law Society of Upper Canada requires that certain accounting records or documents be producible in paper format. Assuming there is no mandatory requirement to maintain these documents in paper form, the documents may be converted to electronic or non-paper form for ease of storage. Regardless of the format you choose (electronic or microfiche), make sure the format maintains the trustworthiness, readability and accessibility of the information for the entire duration of the retention period. ...Refer to File Retention (pdf) for a discussion on proper management of closed client files.
New DOCUdavit Litigation Support Software
As well as scanning and coding your documents to any litigation support software such as Summation, Concordance or CASEmap, we have developed our own DOCUdavit Litigation Support software which now allows you to open any type of file in native format including Word, Excel, PowerPoint presentations, videos and photographs. The best part is that when we scan your documents, the software is FREE. It will also allow you to scan, load and code your own documents into our software and disburse the cost to your client. If you are interested in setting up a demonstration, contact Sid Soil at DOCUdavit Solutions. email@example.com
What some of our users are saying about DOCUdavit Litigation Service and Software:
"Wow - that's so cool!" - Julie Kirkpatrick - Law Office
"Your service helped immensely. Having multiple boxes of paper disclosure, well organized and instantly and easily accessible on my laptop, kept me three steps ahead of the other side at all times." - Brian Ross, Pinkofskys
"Have You Checked Out Upper Canada Document's 'FormCentral' Lately?"
Steve Clarke, one of our software programmer/developers and an Ontario lawyer, has developed and markets a simple, yet highly effective software program called FormCentral through The Upper Canada Document Company Inc.
FormCentral gives Ontario law offices access to Estate Administration, Civil Litigation, Small Claims Court, Ontario Corporation, Canadian Corporation, and the Polaris Real Estate forms, in Word and WordPerfect formats; all for just $250.
If you are a Pay Per Use account holder, this is a reminder that your minimum annual non-refundable deposit for our Pay-Per-Use option is equivalent to three (3) new client files per year. This means a minimum deposit of $350 including tax (ON, BC) or $175 including tax (other provinces) must be paid every 365-day period.
We will hold all your deposited funds and carry them over year-to-year for your future use. However, if your minimum annual non-refundable deposit is not used within 3 years of payment, it will be forfeited.
On Thursday, November 15th 2007, Mark Harris spoke to a large gathering at the Ontario Bar Association dinner. The topic was "50 DIVORCEmate One Tips and Tricks", however the session quickly became a primer on the use (and abuse) of DIVORCEmate Tools One, specifically CHEQUEmate Spousal Support Calculator and SUMmate Quantum vs. Duration Analyser. The attendees listened for more than 90 minutes.
National Family Law 20th Anniversary Program will be held at the Deerhurst Resort and Conference Centre July 14 to 17, 2008 (registration & reception July 13) Muskoka, Ontario. We suggest you make your arrangements early, as this conference will be an early sell-out!
"We simply build software "tools" for the legal profession; much like Black & Decker builds wood-working tools for the carpentry profession. We built a SSAG calculation tool that, when used by a skilled professional, produces accurate and creative results in less time, based on many more brain-storming scenarios than are possible by hand." Mark Harris, President, DIVORCEmate Software Inc.
DIVORCEmate celebrated 20 years in the family law software and support business. To help us celebrate, please visit us at the OBA's Annual Institute in Toronto on February 4th... we'll have lots of giveaways and a few surprises!
You must visit our "Library" on the DIVORCEmate Website. It has lots of easy-to-read and interesting articles. Subjects include: Child Support, Documents of Interest, Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines, User Guides, and Websites of Interest. Please see www.divorcemate.com/library.aspx.
Western Canada Gets Trained by Steven Krieger LL.B.
As a lawyer, I worked and studied in some of our greatest Canadian cities: Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Vancouver and Yellowknife. I enjoyed my recent training trip to Manitoba and Saskatchewan all the more because it is the first time that I visited these provinces. In November, I held DIVORCEmate training sessions in Regina, Saskatoon, and Winnipeg. It was a wonderful experience.
Although DIVORCEmate is Canada's leading family software that is used extensively in many of our Provinces by lawyers, legal aid, and judiciary, we are just starting to increase our clients in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The November training was the kick-off campaign that will bring us to these cities at least once a year for training and meetings.
A training session was held in REGINA on November 13 at the Radisson Plaza Hotel Saskatchewan overlooking Victoria Park in the downtown area. I enjoyed speaking to many lawyers and admired the elegant historic hotel and was pleased to find that holiday decorations were on display to brighten up the season in a cozy English-style atmosphere.
Next was training in SASKATOON on November 14 at the modern Radisson Hotel Saskatoon in the downtown area. I enjoyed speaking to many lawyers and walking in Meewasin Valley Park. The training room and warm hospitality of the hotel were outstanding. Rough Rider fever was evident everywhere as the Saskatchewan fans congregated at the hotels to support their team as they advanced to the playoffs and would ultimately capture the Grey Cup!
I spent a couple of days in downtown WINNIPEG and training was on November 16. The session was very well received by a warm and attentive group of lawyers. Comments echoed that they were pleased that DIVORCEmate had come to Winnipeg. Contacts were made with the Court of Queen's Bench and Manitoba Legal Aid.
Here's what Winnipeg lawyer Victoria Lehman had to say about DIVORCEmate's Steve Krieger's training session:
"Best to you in the New Year, also, and thank you very much for following up. I had my first application of the software in Court in December, and it was very well received, especially since, unlike my opposing colleague, I had included the documentation with figures for the basis of the results, rather than only the monetary conclusions. Your advice was invaluable and greatly appreciated. As I said to you at the seminar, and while I am also sure your skills as an advocate are superlative, YOU ARE A BORN TEACHER! (my highest compliment and regard!)"
Eastern Canada Embraces DIVORCEmate by Michael Perlman
In early November, DIVORCEmate once again hit the road for a 10 day, 6 city tour of Eastern Canada. The tour took us from Saint John NB to St. John's NL and many places in-between.
Tools One training seminars were done at each location as well as some "In-House" private training sessions and numerous "Sales" Demos ... and "yes", we were able to accomplish all this despite the "Blueberry" beer in Moncton and the "big storm" in Halifax.
We met with over 100 users and ended the trip with a bang in St. John's NL where 20+ people were in attendance for a lively and "spirited" Tools One training session.
Special thanks to the group in Sydney NS who recommended the "Cabot Trail" drive. The "trail" loops around the tip of Cape Breton Island and along the Atlantic Ocean. It is truly one of the most beautiful and scenic areas of our great country and an exhilarating drive. If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend it. You won't forget it!
Finally, DIVORCEmate wishes to thank everyone who attended our sessions as well as the law firms who graciously let us through their doors. We look forward to seeing you again.
CSG and SSAG on Palm and Blackberry by Flloyd Morgan
Imagine the power of DIVORCEmate software in the palm of your hand.
Technology is advancing by leaps and bounds and handheld devices are part of that explosion. PDAs, PALMs, Blackberrys, smartphones and the like are not only a social phenomena; they are a boon to the seasoned professional family law practitioner. DIVORCEmate Software plans to ride this wave as we prepare to deliver our software on these new age platforms.
First up, our quick calc Child Support Guideline table amount application will be available for most handhelds devices by the 2Q of 2008. Our clients that use the PALM platform will be able to beam calculations to other Palms, save calculations and also print the results. Blackberry users will be able to do both CSG and SSAG using our special website interface. Data services will be required to run this application.
Our commitment to our clients is the driving force behind this new direction and we greatly appreciate your comments, views and reviews. If you are interested in finding out more about these applications, please contact Flloyd at the email address below.
What The Judiciary Has Been Recently Saying About DIVORCEmate...
"Counsel for the parties presented and argued in favour of the above amounts pursuant to calculations in spousal guideline tables calculated under DIVORCEmate, SUPPORTmate and CHEQUEmate. I have reviewed those calculations and the financial statements as to income and expenses filed by the parties..."Jakubowski v. Kopacz-Jakubowski, 2008 CarswellOnt 2 (Ont SCJ), per P. Kane J.
"I have run my own Supportmate calculations using the 2007 income and child support amounts that I have found above, and the breakdown of the respondent's 2007 income shown in paragraph 35 of his Factum. While the applicant did not provide a detailed breakdown of her $93,500 in net investment income, for purposes of the calculation I assumed that half consisted of taxable capital gains and half "other taxable income". Based on those assumptions, setting monthly spousal support at $3,000 would roughly split the parties' net disposable income."Jivov v. Jivov, 2007 CarswellOnt 8402 (Ont SCJ), per D.M. Brown J.
"Counsel for the mother provided the Court with CHEQUEMate Guidelines calculations... Applying the SUPPORTMate calculations to the above figure provides the following information: If $1,700 spousal support is awarded this would leave the husband with 69.9% Net Disposable Income of the parties. If $1,900 spousal support is awarded this would leave the husband with 67.1% Net Disposable Income of the parties. SUPPORTMate takes into account the reduced income tax payable by the reflecting the deductibility of spousal support. The calculation also includes government benefits and refundable credits. Two recent decisions lend support to that the above range of $1,700.00 to $1,900.00 is fair and reasonable."Rea v. Rea, 2007 CarswellOnt 8257 (Ont SCJ), per G.P. Smith J.
"As a result, the Applicant and Respondent are required to make further written submissions, including CHEQUEmate and SUPPORTmate (DIVORCEmate Software Inc.) calculations and also to address the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines provisions to me before the terms of spousal support are decided. The Applicant shall have 15 days to make submissions and the Respondent shall have 15 days to respond, then the Applicant shall have a further 10 days to reply." Austin v. Austin, 2007 CarswellOnt 7130 (Ont SCJ), per R. Smith J.
"Mr. M's income was $62973 in 2006 and Ms. W's income was $23,340. Utilizing the CHEQUEmate Spousal Support Guidelines Calculator would result in a monthly spousal support range from $ 0 to $337 from January to April 2006, from $ 0 to $288 for May and June 2006 and from $106 to $554 from July to December 2006. Mr. M's annual income for 2007 has been determined to be $75,384 and Ms. W's has been determined to be $23,800. Utilizing the CHEQUEmate spousal support calculations would result in a monthly spousal support range of $364 to $901 from January to September 2007."M. (L.) v. M. (I.), 2007 CarswellNfld 333 (NL UFC), per J.D. Cook J.
"The tax-free portion of the plaintiff's annual income totals $81,120. The taxable portion is $100,632. His income is taxed at the highest marginal rate. According to the DivorceMate calculator, which the parties agreed could be employed to determine the tax gross-up, the additional gross-up income is $61,980. The plaintiff's total income for support purposes, therefore, is $243,742."B. (P.C.) v. B. (T.L.), 2007 CarswellBC 2606 (BC SC), per P.J. Rogers J.
".... The CHEQUEmate Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines software indicates a range of $100 to $336 in these circumstances. Given the short five year marriage, but also considering the economic disadvantage to the Applicant from the marriage breakdown along with the other factors under the Divorce Act, I order spousal support in the amount of $200 per month from August 1, 2006 to February 1, 2007 for a total of $1,400."Man v. Phamisith, 2007 CarswellOnt 7117, (Ont SCJ), per J.A. Blishen J.
"The Veterans disability benefit is a substantial amount of money to receive on a tax-exempt basis. It is the majority of the Respondent's income. It is fair and reasonable that it be grossed-up. Based on the Divorcemate Guideline Calculator, taxable income of $16,671.00 (Armed Forces Pension) and non-taxable income of $27,519.00 (Veterans disability benefit) totaling $44,190.00 would be grossed up to $57,471.00."Savery (Redding) v. Redding, 2007 CarswellNfld 317 (NL SC), per K.J. Goulding J.
"The parties have provided me with a SUPPORTmate planner calculation based on incomes of $30,000.00 for Ms. Petersen and $140,000.00 for Mr. Petersen. They did so at my request. Using those figures, the Guidelines suggest that the appropriate child support, after set-off, is $944.00 per month to be paid by Mr. Petersen to Ms. Petersen."Petersen v. Petersen, 2007 CarswellBC 2507 (BC SC), per H. Holmes J.