Practice Areas


Assisted Reproduction Law

Also sometimes referred to as ‘Fertility Law’ or ‘Reproductive Technology Law’ this practice area encompasses all the legal aspects of using donors or surrogates to assist in reproduction. This practice area requires specific legal expertise separate and apart from the basic knowledge of a family law practitioner as the legislation in Saskatchewan does not contemplate many issues encountered by Saskatchewan families who require third party assisted reproduction. For example, in Saskatchewan a ‘birth mother’ is deemed to be the mother of an infant and is therefore registered on the birth certificate and with vital statistics as the mother; this leads to a significant legal issue for parents using a gestational carrier where the ‘birth mother’ is neither the genetic mother nor the intended mother.

There are several other examples in this area where the legislative scheme in Saskatchewan has fallen out of date with advances in science and medicine and legal assistance is required to ensure things proceed smoothly. Our office recognizes that when couples reach the point of requiring legal advice to navigate these processes they have already faced many obstacles to becoming parents and we are committed to providing assistance in an efficient and sensitive manner.

Our office, and specifically Sheri Woods, has a specific interest and experience in all aspects of Assisted Reproduction Law having dealt with:

  • Surrogacy Agreements (where the surrogate is both the gestational carrier and the egg donor, but not the intended mother);
  • Egg Donor Agreements;
  • Sperm Donor Agreements;
  • Gestational Carrier Agreements (where the surrogate is not a donor but carries the genetic baby of the intended parents);
  • Interim Custody Agreements (in the case of surrogates or gestational carriers: governing the legal transfer of custody of the infant from birth until such time as the Declaration of Parentage Order issues); and
  • Declarations of Parentage (obtaining a court order to have the intended mother registered on the infant’s birth certificate in place of the surrogate/gestational carrier).

We encourage couples to obtain a full legal consultation early in their assisted reproduction process so they are aware of the legal implications in Saskatchewan of using a donor, surrogate, or gestational carrier. Our office has assisted intended parents and donors with the negotiation and finalization of Agreements, declarations of parentage, and various aspects of LGBT family planning.
 

 


Family Law

Our office offers family law mediation services and collaborative family law in addition to a traditional family law/litigation practice; clients beginning the process of formalizing a separation are encouraged to think critically about what process best suits their need: litigation, mediation, collaborative law, or otherwise. Léa Lapointe at our office is a certified collaborative family law lawyer and Karina Jackson is a certified mediator.

Clients facing family law issues are doing so at a time in their lives fraught with financial uncertainty and emotional stress. Clients need a highly skilled and effective lawyer to assist them through their family law matters, but they also need a good ‘fit’ with a lawyer they can trust and communicate with effectively. The first step in any family law issue is necessarily a comprehensive consultation appointment not only to educate the client and answer their immediate questions, but also to lay the foundation for a good working relationship between lawyer and client.

The family law lawyers at our firm resolve the vast majority of their files by way of negotiated agreements being careful to find a balance between not escalating conflict while also effectively advocating for their client’s interests. Not all matters can be resolved by agreement and in complicated situations or those involving issues such as domestic violence the most effective course of action may involve court application(s). It is the role of your family law lawyer to outline the costs, timelines, advantages and disadvantages of the different processes available to you so that you may make informed decisions about how to proceed and what you may expect for results.

The issues that we deal with regularly include:

Divorce / Separation: including contested and uncontested divorces as well as legal separations of married couples and common-law relationships.

Child custody and access: ranging from co-operative shared parenting structures by agreement to high conflict custody and access litigation, mobility applications, supervised access or exchange programs, and variations of pre-existing arrangements.

Property Division: of the family home and family property including situations where one or both parties operate a business, farming operation, professional corporation or similar where expertise is required to pursue the appropriate valuation as well as tax and other implications on division.

Emergency Intervention Orders: applicable in situations of domestic violence where the utmost care is required to ensure the client (and children) is safe from harm at the time of family breakdown.

Exclusive Possession of the family home: in certain circumstances where it is necessary for the parties to reside separately until their property division matters are resolved an exclusive possession order can limit one party’s access to the family home.

Child Support: obtaining (and enforcing when necessary) child support orders or agreements, including situations where the payor’s income may need to be imputed due to underemployment or unemployment.

Spousal Support: acting for both payors and recipients to determine whether an entitlement to support exists and if so what the appropriate quantum should be, having regard to the circumstances of each party; ascertaining the appropriate income to be used in the case of business income, family businesses (ie: farming operations), professional corporations and otherwise.

Separation Agreements: the negotiation and preparation of comprehensive agreements addressing property division, parenting, and support, allowing the parties an efficient and effective resolution to their family law issues in a cost effective and cooperative manner.

Persons of Sufficient Interest (ie: grandparents): often arising when parents are unable to care for their children and a close relation wishes to apply for custody of or access to the child(ren).

Adoption: including step-parent adoption, finalization of private adoptions, and independent legal advice for a parent giving up their child for adoption and for children over the age of 12 who are asked for consent before their own adoption is processed.

Pre-nuptial or co-habitation agreements: highly recommended in the case of blended families, second marriages, or any situation when the couple wants their intentions recorded in writing in an enforceable manner – these agreements can address what will occur with property and support in the event of the death of either party or in the event of a separation/divorce.


 

 


Real Estate / Estate Planning

In conjunction with our family law work we also meet our client’s needs for real estate transactions and estate planning. Our office regularly handles residential real estate purchases, sales, and refinancing while our estate planning services include the drafting of Wills, Advanced Health Care Directives, and Powers of Attorney.

Any general inquiry questions about our rates or fees in this area can be directed to our support staff at 306 955-9610 or office@mandwlaw.ca. You can also visit our contact page to get in touch with our office.
 

 


Dependent Adults / The Adult Guardianship and Co-decision-making Act

When adults do not have or lose capacity to make decisions respecting their finances and/or their personal care, families face many challenges in obtaining assistance for their loved one. This is especially the case if the adult does not have a Power of Attorney appointed before losing capacity. In Saskatchewan, The Adult Guardianship and Co-decision-making Act allows someone close to the adult to apply to the court to be appointed as property and/or personal guardian.

Lawyers practicing in this area need to work with you and your family to assist in making an informed choice respecting the degree of guardianship required and the terms for an order that will be effective in assisting the dependant adult. We can also assist with complications that may arise in annual reviews of guardianship orders or if disagreements arise between family members on what decisions are in the dependent adult’s best interests.
 

 


Criminal Defence

The implications of a criminal charge or conviction can include travel restrictions, loss of employment, a criminal record, no-contact orders with friends or family members, loss of a driver’s license, and of course the risk of incarceration or restrictive probation conditions. The severity of the repercussions necessitates retaining skilled and experienced legal counsel to assist in your defence.

Criminal defence lawyers can assist with anything from traffic safety violations to the most serious of criminal offences. Some matters are cleared up quickly and others need to proceed through to a trial in either Provincial Court or the Court of Queen’s Bench. Some of the many charges that our office has experience handling include:

  • Driving offences (ie: .08 / impaired driving / dangerous driving)
  • Controlled Drug and Substances (ie: possession / trafficking)
  • Personal injury offences (ie: assault / domestic violence / sexual assault)
  • Theft / break and enter
  • Weapons related charges
  • Manslaughter / murder
  • Criminal negligence
  • Outstanding warrants / breaches / failures to appear
  • Youth Criminal Justice Act offences (young offenders)
  • Dangerous Offender Hearings

 

 


Child Protection / Child and Family Services

The nearly unfettered discretion afforded to the Ministry of Social Services is necessary for our province to be able to intervene effectively when a child is being abused. However, with discretion comes the inevitability that people will disagree with how that discretion should be applied. There are over 3,000 Saskatchewan youth in the care of social services if we include children in care under PSI (familial placement) orders. Legal Aid handles the vast majority of parents’ counsel work in this area but if individuals do not qualify for Legal Aid they are left with the options of private counsel or court appointed counsel and our office can assist in either capacity.

Questions about how to have independent legal representation appointed for a child or youth in care can be directed to the Advocate for Children or the Counsel for Children Office . Our office accepts appointments from the Council for Children Office on a regular basis to provide legal representation to children and youth in care so that they may have an informed and direct voice in the decisions affecting them. To request a lawyer for a child or youth involved in a child protection proceeding you may complete the referral form found at the following website.