DONNA A. WOWK
Donna has practiced family law for over 35 years. She has extensive trial experience and has appeared in all levels of court in Ontario. As a result of her experience practicing in various geographical locations and in all areas of family law, she is a lawyer with a broad knowledge base about the intersection between family law and the many other areas of law and human behavior that it touches.
Donna was senior counsel to the Children’s Aid Society of the Niagara Region for nineteen years where she worked with social workers, police, mental health professionals, and addictions specialists, to name a few. She broadened her experience and skills working at two boutique family law firms, first in Hamilton, Ontario and, more recently, in Toronto, Ontario, practicing in all areas of family law, including property issues, child support, spousal support, and domestic contracts. Donna has worked with specialists in multiple areas of law, including corporate, tax, and estates.
She left the Children’s Aid Society of the Niagara Region to join Harper Jaskot LLP after collaborating with R. John Harper on an appeal to the Ontario Court of Appeal. Donna left Harper Jaskot LLP shortly after the appointment of R. John Harper as a judge of the Family Court, Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
Donna spent the last 12 years at Niman Gelgoot and Associates LLP, another highly respected family law firm, where she had the benefit of working with Harold Niman who is recognized as one of the best family law lawyers in the country. Donna and Harold continue to collaborate on cases.
She has participated in Working Groups and Government Consultations, including with respect to child protection legislation, draft legislation regarding the protection of personal health information, and the Civil Justice Review Task Force. Donna organized a focus group for the ‘Panel of Experts’ review arising out of the province’s Child Mortality Task Force.
Donna has served on Boards and Committees, including Child Advocacy Centre Niagara, the Advisory Board of the Community Mental Health “Outreach” Program, the Community Liaison Committee for the Family Court in St. Catharines, the Social Planning and Research Council of St. Catharines and Thorold, Vision Niagara Planning & Development, and the Unified Family Court plementation Committee for the St. Catharines site. She served on the Family Rules Committee for nine years, appointed by The Honourable Heather Smith, during her tenure as Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Justice. Donna also served on the Community Liaison Committee for the Family Court in St. Catharines, appointed by The Honourable Patrick LeSage, during his tenure as Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Justice. Donna has also volunteered her services as an online mentor for Legal Aid Ontario.
She has conducted numerous workshops and spoken at many conferences on a wide variety of topics, including evidentiary issues, the Family Law Rules, how to conduct a trial, child protection issues, the intersection of child protection law and family law, factums, risk management for children’s aid societies, parental alienation remedies, the interface between the Education Act and the Children’s Law Reform Act, and an advanced roundtable in family law. Donna has written articles on a wide variety of topics including children’s evidence, parental alienation, the rights of foster parents, and contributed a chapter on evidence in child protection proceedings for Evidence in Family Law, co-authored and edited by Harold Niman.
Donna has completed advanced training in parenting coordination and is looking forward to further expanding her range of services by assisting parents in implementing their parenting plans and helping them to resolve conflicts.
GABRIELLA SCHNEIDER, Law Clerk
Gabriella graduated from the University of Southampton in England with a Bachelor of Laws.
She is a listener and assists clients in navigating the emotional family law process. Moreover, she is dedicated to keeping her clients’ legal costs manageable and assisting them through what can be a difficult process. She always has the clients’ wellbeing at heart and works hard to ensure the best possible result.