Family law issues can feel overwhelming because they are uniquely personal: they impact your most intimate relationships. These issues can directly impact your and your family’s future, and a compassionate and knowledgeable family lawyer can help you reduce stress and make the right decisions.
Family law issues may involve:
- Child Custody
- Separation and Divorce
- Spousal or Child Support
- Pre-nuptial or Co-habitation agreements
- Domestic Violence
At its heart, child custody is about who makes decisions for children. Biological parents generally have the legal right to make decisions about their children such as where they live, where they go to school and their religious upbringing. This is true even if a child lives with one parent most or all the time.
When there is a divorce or separation, a court may decide where children will primarily live, with the other parent having specific visitation times. Sometimes, a court will order the parents to have an equal amount of time (joint custody). In child custody cases, the court will first consider the best interests of the child. A child custody attorney can help create a plan to figure out the best arrangement for you and your children and then present your proposal to the mediator or judge.
Ending a relationship is difficult and can be overwhelming. Legally separating from a married or common-law partner means you will no longer be sharing a life together.
Being in a common-law relationship does not mean that you are married, but it does mean you have a lot of the legal rights and obligations of a married couple. So, determining if you are in a common-law relationship can be important in understanding your rights and responsibilities. While separation ends a common-law relationship, it may not end the complex issues related to the end of the relationship.
Divorce ends a legal marriage. To get a divorce in Canada, you must be separated for at least a year and go through a legal process and get a court order that says the marriage has ended. While a year separation is required, you should start making interim arrangements related to issues like property and support as soon as possible. Interim agreements can apply while the details of the final divorce are worked out. If it is difficult to come to an interim agreement, a court or arbitrator can make an interim order until the divorce is granted.
There are many approaches to resolving the complex issues related to separations and divorces. A divorce lawyer can help you navigate these complicated issues during a very difficult time.
During the trying times of a divorce or separation, support is a major issue. Support means each parent's financial responsibility for the children and to the other spouse. These amounts are often based on each party's finances. Children are legally entitled to child support from the parent who doesn't live with them (usually until age 19). Spousal support helps ensure that a former partner doesn't struggle financially while becoming independent. Standard amounts of support are usually based on the Canadian Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines.
Talk to a lawyer to help figure out if you should be paying or receiving support and whether the guidelines for support amounts make sense in your circumstance.
Marriage and Co-habitation create legal rights. Pre-nuptial and cohabitation agreements set out what will happen to your property if your relationship ends. Without an agreement, a court may determine how property is divided. Determining in advance what might happen to your property can reduce conflict and save both parties time, effort, energy and legal fees. It can also help protect your relationship by giving both partners more certainty. A consultation with a lawyer can help create a plan based on your mutual understanding with your loved one.
Adoption is when parents are assigned legal rights to take over the parenting responsibilities of a child. Adoption in BC is governed by a provincial law called the Adoption Act. In considering adoptions, a court will consider the child's best interests (including respecting cultural identity for First Nations children). When you adopt a child, you take on all the parental rights and responsibilities that birth parents have, and the birth parents give up all of theirs. Adoptions can become complex when the permission of the birth parents is not obtainable. You can learn more about adoption in Canada by visiting the Adoption Council of Canada website. A compassionate, experienced attorney can help you navigate this process.
Intimate partner and child abuse are sadly common occurrences in many relationships and can rob victims of their power and sense of control. Abuse can be physical, psychological, emotional, sexual or financial. There are many community resources that can help victims get to safety and process their trauma. A lawyer can also help you apply for a family law protection order that applies in British Columbia. A protection order can keep someone away from you or your children and prevent contact or stalking. It can also get the police to help gather personal belongings or remove the perpetrator from the family home. Once family members are safe, a lawyer can also help you consider if it makes sense to start a lawsuit seeking damages for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and punitive damages.
If you believe you need a qualified attorney’s help with your legal problem, you can book a free 15-minute meeting now. Connect with the lawyer via video chat, have them assess your case and provide you with options to move forward.