Frenkel Tobin LLP in the News Media

December 6, 2022

Gaslighting — its use as a sword and a shield in Canadian family law

The word “gaslighting” has dethroned “vaccine” as the 2022 Merriam-Webster word of the year. Based on the increased number of searches on for the word gaslighting (1,740 per cent to be precise) it appears to be the new pandemic that Pfizer may now need to find another vaccine for.

In a survey conducted by the National Domestic Violence Hotline in 2014, 2,500 hotline callers were asked about their experiences of domestic violence. In response to the question, “Do you think your partner or ex-partner has ever deliberately done things to make you feel like you are going crazy or losing your mind?” nearly 75 per cent answered positively. And in response to the question, “Has your partner or ex-partner ever threatened to report to authorities that you are ‘crazy’ to keep you from getting something you want or need?” just over 50 per cent of callers answered “yes.”


December 5, 2022

Canadian Food Prices and the Role of Paralegals in Family Court

Libby Znaimer is joined by David Tobin, lawyer with Frenkel Tobin LLP. The Law Society of Ontario is now allowing Paralegals to provide some family legal services through a new license. So, what will paralegals be allowed to do and what will they be limited on in this context? Mr. Tobin weighs in on the latest.

November 22, 2022

My Divorce Journal: A Guided Path To Moving Forward With Pat Butler

I chat with author Pat Butler who has cowritten a superb book called: My Divorce Journal: A Guided Path To Moving Forward.

In our interview, Pat discusses the 5 stages that people go through and the challenges of each stage.

November 16, 2022

Considering vulnerable parties in family law matters

Clients who go through the process of divorce usually relay a nerve-racking experience from the time they enter their lawyer’s office to the moment their legal issues are settled.

As family lawyers, we see many strong individuals openly weep in our offices. They share with us their confessions of failure, regret and vulnerability. We guide them, console them and try to provide tailored legal strategies.

But sometimes, we are tempted to step outside the moral comfort zone. Sometimes, our own clients demand unreasonable results at the expense of the opposing party.


November 10, 2022

#Divorce 67: 😌 The emotional side of divorce (from a divorce attorney)

David Frenkel, family law attorney, talks about why he wrote a book that helps people through the emotional side of divorce too.

November 9, 2022

#Divorce 66: 🤔 Looking back, what did you learn from your divorce?

David asks Rob, 'looking back, what did you learn from your divorce?'

November 8, 2022

#Divorce 65: 🙋‍♂️ 3 important questions to ask your divorce attorney

David Frenkel, family law attorney, shares 3 important questions you can ask your divorce attorney before going all-in with them.

October 7, 2022

Thirteenth Annual Bread and Butter Issues in Family Law

Get the practical insights you need to confidently navigate the issues arising in your daily practice with this popular annual program.

The Honourable Justice Chappel, Yunjae Kim and David Frenkel will be presenting on October 7th, 2022 at the Ontario Bar Association, Annual Bread and Butter Issues in Family Law. Yunjae and David are excited to share their Canadian Family Law Quarterly paper on Separation Date Principles and Assessment Guide.

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September 21, 2022

Standing up to inflation by varying one outdated spousal support order or agreement at a time

Amidst the steepest inflation rate in decades and food prices rising by 8.8 per cent this past year, many Canadians face the growing difficulty of affording daily expenses.

Given this context, it may be time to check your spousal support order or agreement and see whether it can be varied in light of these economic uncertainties.


July 15, 2022

Why determining the date of separation in family law is so complex

Analysing the case law for patterns can help avoid unnecessary conflict and litigation

Believe it or not, there have been hundreds of court decisions over the last few decades where judges had to decide when a couple separated. People went to court and spent tens of thousands of dollars for a judge to determine whether a relationship broke down on a Monday or a Friday. June or July. 2017 or 2022.

And why so much litigation on such a trivial issue? The answer is not so simple.


February 14, 2022

Divorce lawyers hear their clients’ deepest traumas. They need therapeutic training

Clients share stories of being cheated on, rejected, abused and financially devastated. Many need a lawyer that is more than just an advocate.

Clients regularly entrust them with their most intimate secrets, too embarrassing to share with even their closest of confidants.

They regularly share stories of being cheated on, rejected, abused and financially devastated. Their legal advisers come face to face with despair and unimaginable pain, which at times can take their breath away. This special breed of lawyer is obliged to navigate complex mental health issues that correspond to the current upheaval, and often historic childhood traumas.

And yet, divorce lawyers are not psychiatrists, nor are they trained therapists or counsellors.


January 5, 2022

Lessons learned at my first family law trial

As a younger version of myself, I used to imagine my first trial as a lawyer.

While some trials have a team of lawyers and articling students, many lawyers, especially in family law, do it alone. I still wonder how these lawyers record the testimony while also eliciting it. At many points in the trial, I found it difficult just to keep up. Even as the lawyer who was not conducting the cross, capturing the information as accurately as possible was not an easy task.


November 22, 2021

As a first-year lawyer during the pandemic, I needed to reflect to reconnect

When young lawyers feel isolated, they should remind themselves what initially drew them to the law

If you graduated from law school in 2020, you did not have the opportunity to enjoy either an in-person law school graduation or a call to the bar ceremony, and it feels like we have suddenly become lawyers without time to look in the rear-view mirror.


November 12, 2021

Parenting plans and the holidays: A true Christmas miracle | Carly Mellon

The holidays are hard. There, I said it.

In all the classic Christmas Hallmark movies, the holidays are portrayed as a time of constant happiness with families getting together, the snow always sparkling and everything working out in the end.

In the real world, that is not always the case.


September 30, 2021

Family law and gymnastics: Unexpected similarities | Carly Mellon

I have always thought that my past life as a gymnast would one day haunt me. Somewhere deep inside as I used to fly through the air pretending to be the next Nastia Liukin, I knew that somehow my future would be affected with each twist and tumble. I just didn’t know exactly how — until recently when I somersaulted into the eye-opening world of family law.

From the point of view of a retired competitive gymnast, and recently licensed paralegal training now as a legal assistant, I have had the most unexpected realization — that family law gymnastics was more than just a cliché. In fact, I have discovered similarities that I hope others in my profession would find interesting and helpful, just like I did.


June 17, 2021

Family Law CLE

Covid-19 and Family Law: a summary of legal issues and practical changes affecting law clerks and lawyers in the post-pandemic era

Covid-19 has brought about changes to the way that family law lawyers and law clerks run their practice. Some changes occurred because of the pandemic (e.g. reduction in paperwork) and some just happened along the way such as the amended Divorce Act. Many of these changes have been helpful, some challenging and others are currently evolving as we all try to forge ahead during this new and uncertain reality.


February 22, 2021

Stopping anti-vaccination debate from entering legal system | David Frenkel

In A.P. v. L.K. 2021 ONSC 150, one parent decided that her children should not be vaccinated while the other disagreed.

One may argue that the threat of a cost award is enough of a deterrent. However, it is not. The reality is that the vast majority of cases are settled prior to trial and in those situations, litigants just want the bleeding to stop regardless of how it started. As a result, the individuals starting the frivolous cases are rarely penalized.

And if the case does go to trial, the amount of the cost award almost never covers the expenses incurred and time lost.

So is there an alternative? There may be, but it would take courage and resolve to challenge the status quo in a thoughtful manner.


April 2, 2020

Current guidelines for urgent parenting motions during COVID-19

Family law court decisions have started rolling out in Ontario and across the country in response to the Superior Court of Justice’s Notice to the Profession, released March 15, relating to non-child protection matters.

Family law court decisions have started rolling out in Ontario and across the country in response to the Superior Court of Justice’s Notice to the Profession, released March 15, relating to non-child protection matters.

The relevant part of the notice is as follows: “Only urgent family law events as determined by the presiding justice, or events that are required to be heard by statute will be heard during this emergency period, including: a) requests for urgent relief relating to the safety of a child or parent (e.g., a restraining order, other restrictions on contact between the parties or a party and a child, or exclusive possession of the home); b) urgent issues that must be determined relating to the well-being of a child including essential medical decisions or issues relating to the wrongful removal or retention of a child.”


January 27, 2020

Marriage Story: Important lessons for divorcing spouses

Sometimes a motion picture is not only worth a thousand words but can also be a helpful and informational resource for divorcing spouses. The 2020 Oscar-nominated movie Marriage Story is one of those pictures.

Faced with unreasonable and aggressive tactics by an ex-spouse, sometimes one has little choice but to respond heavy handedly.

In Marriage Story, Driver’s character did just that. Otherwise, he stood to lose custody and an opportunity to be significantly involved in his child’s life.

However, what is often not discussed is the alternative — the alternative to not respond in kind but with understanding and compassion.

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November 13, 2019

The tragedy of A.M. v. C.H.: Time for an interventionist approach

The case of A.M. v. C.H. 2019 ONCA 764 is a custody dispute case involving the parental alienation of a 14-year-old boy who refused to live with his father despite a custody reversal order. Even more tragic, the son assaulted his father, resulting in a criminal no-contact order between them. To do nothing cannot be the best option. Rather, perhaps a novel approach should be tried by learning from the lessons found among the carnage of this case.

All in all, the father was left with essentially nothing, despite spending years in litigation and likely hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees. The troubled son will likely continue his rebellious ways and be left without a family and without a real home to come back to.

Even for family law lawyers, this case is appalling and simply a tragedy, where the legal system failed to provide a child a chance of forming a positive relationship with at least one of his parents.

To do nothing cannot be the best option. Rather, perhaps a novel approach should be tried by learning from the lessons found among the carnage.


October 3, 2019

Producing financial disclosure in family law: A poem | David Frenkel

When it comes to financial disclosure, some family law litigants just don’t seem to appreciate the importance of full and frank disclosure. While a few recent decisions are considered leading in the area, including Roberts v. Roberts 2015 ONCA 450, some people may just need a more simple way to understand that their inactions do more harm than good.

Mind you, I am a family law lawyer and very far from a poet; but, if I can just persuade one person to produce their financial disclosure and minimize unnecessary litigation, the following poor attempt at rhyming may just be worth it.


July 2, 2019

Counselling for family law clients during a sea of change

Have you ever gone boating? Have you ever had your boat capsize in the middle of a sea and gotten stuck on a raft wondering if and when you will be saved? Family law clients often feel this way. They are floating in a sea of confusion and stress. At this point perhaps family law clients should consider placing counselling closer to the top of their priorities, especially when they are negotiating or litigating their matrimonial affairs.

Although it may cost a few thousand dollars, counselling may actually save clients thousands more in legal fees if, as a result of positive therapy, they are able to make more rational and sensible decisions while fighting with their ex-spouse in court.

The benefits of therapy, mental stability and controlling impulsive behaviour in the context of family law cannot be overstated.

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February 11, 2019

Grey divorces pose legal challenges

Divorces that happen later in life can have unique legal challenges, such as the proximity to retirement, life insurance and whether or not grown children become participants in the proceedings.

Because retirement is much sooner or has already happened in grey divorces, that requires a change in these support agreements.

“The extra challenge [for lawyers] is crafting and drafting an agreement that takes that into account,” says Frenkel.

Frenkel says medical benefits of spouses are often a consideration in these cases because many insurance providers will have provisions to cover a former spouse as long as they are not divorced.

“When you’re drawing up your agreement, you should be cognizant of that [stipulation],” says Frenkel.


January 30, 2019

Couples join less in holy matrimony and more in heavenly ignorance

The 2019 Metro Convention Centre Canada’s Bridal Show had an unexpected visitor; namely, the family law firm of Gelman and Associates. They registered a booth, sat down in pairs and watched happy couples walk by and stare at them in bewilderment.

Their first realization was that the people at the bridal show likely discounted the well-known statistic that divorce and separation affect approximately 50 per cent of all relationships. More importantly, among the 50 per cent of breakups, the details of many of those are simply heartbreaking. Those heartbreaks often result from entitled individuals making unreasonable claims. There are many examples in family law court decisions.

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January 15, 2019

About Face: Essays on Addiction, Recovery, Therapies, and Controversies

About Face: Essays on Addictions, Recovery, Therapies, and Controversies seeks to broaden the conversation around addiction in Canada. Featuring essays by a diverse group of writers, About Face delves into the major categories of addiction: drugs, alcohol, sex, pornography, video games, gambling, body dysmorphia, and eating disorders. With stories by those suffering from addictions, experts in the field, and service providers, this anthology is a far-reaching intervention into one of our country’s most rapidly expanding social problems.

Opioid Addiction: Proactively Addressing Legal Concerns with Child Custody by Lisa Gelman and David Frenkel

Sex Addiction and Evidence in Canadian Family-Law Courts by David Frenkel


December 11, 2018

Hidden mental health issues and family law

The term “mental health” is now at the forefront in everyday conversations, headlines in the news and government agendas. However, when it comes to family law, more subtle forms of mental health are often overlooked despite them being the difference between an amicable separation and financial disaster.

These emotions are the undercurrents that often are ignored when attempting to settle matrimonial cases. They are forgotten as couples and their lawyers fight about custody, support and property division issues. But is it wise to pass over these hidden issues?

Basic psychology tells us that individuals are regularly influenced by the interplay of thoughts, emotions and behaviours. “I’m bitter because you chose to sleep around behind my back” can translate into “I am not budging from my position of wanting the highest level of spousal support from you.” “I am angry at my wife’s parents for ruining our marriage” can result in “I want to have joint custody no matter what factors are evident from the family history.”

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October 4, 2018

House of Commons Hansard #332 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session

Cathay Wagantall Yorkton—Melville, SK quotes David Frenkel.

July 20, 2018

A different perspective on divorce: How it can help the individuals and the families

It is a way of removing toxicity from the home. It is a way of expelling dangerous influences. It is a way of protecting children from poor role models and examples that would otherwise continue if not for the divorce.

The waiting room in our family law firm is an interesting place. The men and women that come in for the first time often have this aura of embarrassment about them. They divert their eyes. They shift in their chairs. It is almost as if they are hoping that we, the lawyers and staff, do not realize that they will soon be talking with a complete stranger about their failed relationship. They fill out their intake forms, wondering “How did I become just another statistic?”


January 22, 2018

Paradigm shift needed

The world is changing and we have to keep up. The dangers our children face today are no longer the issues of yesterday.

Challenges children face include suffering repercussions from bitter divorces and self-esteem issues that can lead to depression, drug use and suicide.

Family law lawyers and other professionals, such as the staff at the Children’s Aid Society, see how these ailments affect our communities.

Consequently, it may be time to have a conversation about whether we as professionals could utilize our experience and knowledge to teach and warn children before the harmful effects occur.

A paradigm shift in the way we approach the above challenges may be necessary since these dangers are real and not simply confined to poor and marginalized communities.


November 23, 2017

Courts consider whether alcohol mixes with employment in imputing income

Society and the courts recognize that many factors contribute to substance abuse and addiction, and that any illness, including alcoholism, is rarely a matter of fault. However, when an individual attempts to use alcoholism to gain a monetary advantage in the courts, the refusal or failure of a party to take all reasonable steps to deal with such an illness can be viewed critically.

According to Conan O’Brien, scientists announced they have located the gene for alcoholism and that they found it at a party, talking way too loudly.


October 16, 2017

Sex addiction and evidence in Canadian family law courts

Courts in Canada have rarely considered sexual addiction as a relevant factor in determining family law issues. The reason is likely because the evidence needs to be significant in nature, and even so it may not be enough to influence a decision with respect to child custody or spousal support entitlement.

According to Newsweek magazine and other sources, Harvey Weinstein is en route for “sex addiction” therapy. Weinstein is now part of a growing list of celebrities that have relied on this rationale to explain their infidelities. Those other celebrities include Charlie Sheen, Rob Lowe, Tiger Woods, Anthony Weiner, Russell Brand and, ironically, Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols, among others.

As a family law lawyer practising for more than 10 years, I have met many clients who have suffered unimaginable pain and embarrassment from their spouse’s infidelities that included sexual addiction. My job as their counsel is to always ensure that their emotions are validated but also to advise them how the law and the rules of evidence apply to their particular case.