Michael J. Marra has been a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada since his Call to the Ontario Bar in 1981. After his first 6 years practicing in a small general practice with an emphasis on Family Law and General Litigation, he was appointed as Regional Solicitor for the newly created Support and Custody Orders Enforcement Program (SCOE - now Family Responsibility Office – FRO) branch of the Ministry of the Attorney General. He was actively involved in the implementation of this new and controversial program on a province wide basis and in the Hamilton centered region in particular.
He was responsible for the staff legal training while working on a team basis with the administrative managers and the introduction of the program to the judiciary, local bar, and public. He was responsible for all litigation in the Hamilton centered region which included St. Catherines, Welland and Niagara Falls, Cayuga, Simcoe, Brantford, Milton , Burlington, Oakville, Guelph, Kitchener, Cambridge and Hamilton Courts both at the Ontario Court and Superior Court level including all appeals.
In March of 1989 Mr. Marra left his position with SCOE/FRO in response to an offer to practice family law with George Czutrin (now the Honourable Mr. Justice George Czutrin, Superior Court of Justice) in his dynamic family law group in Hamilton along with their colleague Virginia Mendes de Costa.
This was a dynamic practice which involved new approaches to rapidly evolving areas of family law, particularly in the areas of spousal support, complex financial situations, fraudulent spouses, trust claims, unfair agreements, protection of children's rights, estate litigation, high conflict custody and access situations and mediation methods. At the same time, Mr. Marra continued his excellent working relationship with the Hamilton SCOE/FRO Branch and carried out legal services on behalf of the Director for three Courts each week, typically Hamilton, Kitchener and Guelph and/or Welland.
Since Mr. Justice Czutrin's judicial appointment in June 1993 Mr. Marra, has practiced as a sole practitioner carrying on a selective private practice along with extensive representation of the Family Responsibility Office. When the Hamilton FRO office was closed by the Ontario Government in October of 1996 Mr. Marra continued to represent the FRO as a primary area of his practice carrying out the majority of the FRO court work in Kitchener, Cambridge, Guelph, Milton, Burlington, Oakville, Welland and Niagara Falls until 2005-06. Mr. Marra has not represented the FRO since June 2006.
Mr. Marra was a member of the Family Law Executive of the Hamilton Law Association from 1987 through 1994 during which time extensive reforms were initiated in Hamilton that formed the foundation for the new Family Law Rules that exist throughout the Province.
In addition, commencing in 1991, Mr. Marra was part of the comprehensive mediation pilot project at the Unified Family Court and is a trained mediator.
Mr. Marra is a former member of the Office of the Children's Lawyer panel for Waterloo-Wellington and Halton and is a past member of the Hamilton-Halton Collaborative Law Association and current member of the Waterloo-Wellington Collaborative Law Association.
As part of Mr. Marra's representation of the Family Responsibility Office over the years he clearly saw the need for representation of those individuals who need to have their child support orders changed but have difficulty locating or retaining counsel who have sufficient experience to deal with these issues for an affordable fee.
As such, since 2005 he has developed a number of model for delivering high quality legal services in such cases by way of a flat rate based retainer agreement or value based service delivery systems.
Mr. Marra's many years of representation of the Family Responsibility Office and its predecessor organizations has given him special expertise in such matters. Since 2009, with the downturn in the Ontario economy and job market his practice has been increasingly focused on Support Payment Change & FRO cases. He regularly receives referrals from other family law lawyers to offer representation and assistance on FRO matters.
In addition, Mr. Marra represents clients who are newly separated and has extensive experience negotiating property, support and parenting settlements. Complex financial situations can be managed with an efficient and practical "win-win " approach.
Since 2008 Mr. Marra has been a Dispute Resolution Officer ( DRO ) at the Superior Court of Justice in Milton and is a member of the DRO Panel conducting mandatory conferences on motions to change in the Superior Court of Justice in Milton.
He is a regular presenter and participant in numerous legal professional education seminars and conferences related to the subjects of support payments and enforcement.
Since the launch of www.thefrosolution.com in 2006 Mr. Marra and his team have clearly recognized the widespread need for basic information, systems and tools for families in the family justice system. The volume of phone calls and emails to his office has confirmed that assisting parents on a case-by-case basis is not producing a change in overall system.
Accordingly, Mr. Marra and his support team have developed the Support Information Exchange (SIX ) www.yoursix.ca to help families organize, manage and comply with their family support responsibilities. As Founder of Support Information Exchange Inc., Mr. Marra is committed to helping parents generally be in the best position to fulfill their child support obligations and responsibilities in accordance with the governing law.
Commencing March 1, 2013 Mr. Marra has relocated his office to the historic village of Elora, Ontario where he is focusing his practice on financial mediation, consultation services for FRO issues ( primarily for counsel ) and selective out-of-court negotiation matters.