A match made in legal heaven

Canada's top family lawyers square off in $500-million divorce

By Bruce Laregina

On Friday June 14th, 2013

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Toronto Life‘s July 2013 story on the divorce of Michael McCain, CEO of Maple Leaf Foods, from his now ex-wife Christine unveils their luxurious lifestyle loaded with million-dollar mansions, extravagant parties and 80-foot yachts. But when the wealthy couple went to court over Michael’s estimated worth of $500 milllion, the split also revealed who Canada’s top family lawyers are.

Michael, who inherited his fortune from his father Wallace McCain, hired Stephen Grant — whose home was featured by Precedent — and Gerald Sadvari to argue his case. The duo, who collectively have more than 70 years of experience working in family law, left McCarthy Tétrault LLP to open their own firm, Grant & Sadvari. They have handled many high-profile divorce cases, including the one between billionaire David Thomson and his former wife Laurie Ludwick.

Knowing that she needed to hire a lawyer of comparable experience to stand a chance, Christine hired Harold Niman of Niman Zemans Gelgoot LLP. Niman, who Toronto Life named as the city’s best divorce lawyer in 2009, represented the now ex-wife of Michael’s brother Scott in their divorce (while Grant & Sadvari acted for Scott).

Grant, Sadvari and Niman argued over the details of McCain’s complex marriage contract throughout 2012, and the trial made headlines in January 2013 when the court ordered Michael to pay Christine a monthly interim amount of $175,000 — a Canadian record for spousal support).

The lawyers eventually reached a settlement in May, avoiding a court date set for November. The financial details of the settlement are unknown, but it is likely close to the court-awarded monthly support figure.