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Surrey British Columbia Family Law Blog

Collaborative law offers peaceful alternative to litigation

Just because your marriage is ending does not mean you and your spouse hate each other. In fact, you may have every intention of remaining on good terms, especially if you have children together. One thing that has the potential to destroy that positive relationship is litigation. This is why many divorcing couples in British Columbia are turning to collaborative law as a more dignified way to end their marriages.

The collaborative process is a group effort to arrive at agreeable terms with less stress than traditional divorce. You and your spouse will each retain legal counsel, and the four of you will meet to discuss and resolve crucial issues, such as property division, child custody and spousal support. To ensure you and your spouse have the best opportunity to make positive choices for your family, other professionals may join the discussion, such as financial experts, child specialists or divorce coaches.

How a bad divorce can make children sick, even decades later

Scientists and medical professionals have long believed that there is a connection between emotional health and physical health, and many studies have borne that out. A recent study made a connection between divorce and children's health with a surprising result. The data makes a compelling case for divorcing British Columbia parents to be extremely mindful of how they treat each other around their kids and the importance of co-parenting harmoniously.

The study involved 201 healthy adults, some of whom had parents who stopped talking to each other after a bad divorce when they were kids, some whose parents continued to communicate after their divorce, and some whose parents did not divorce. Each member of the study group lived in quarantine for five days, and they were all exposed to a common cold virus. Researchers monitored their health and then evaluated their findings.

Smile for the camera! What's with the divorce selfie phenomenon?

A picture of two people smiling like it's the happiest day of their lives. What exactly is newsworthy about that? It's the fact that the subjects of the picture just got a divorce. It's called a 'divorce selfie,' and its another trend gone viral that's caught the attention of the popular media. The old notion of a mean-spirited divorce followed by a lifetime of scorn, or perhaps indifference, is being turned on its head here in British Columbia and around the world.

Everyone knows that stress is unhealthy, so anything one can do to avoid it is a good thing. Stress is nearly impossible to eliminate in a divorce, but it may be possible to minimize it. Rather than choose a litigated divorce in a courtroom, with no quarter given and none asked, divorcing couples today can opt to settle their issues through mediation, or collaborative law. A non-confrontational divorce can lay the groundwork for a healthier post-divorce relationship. That should be of particular interest to divorcing parents of young children. 

Mediation may be one of many ways ease the strain of divorce

No matter what one's reasons are for ending a marriage in British Columbia, it is never an easy process. Legal matters can be stressful, although nonconfrontational divorce methods like mediation may help. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, feeling strong emotions during a divorce is normal. However, if they aren't managed properly, the stresses of a divorce can cause lasting mental health issues. The CMHA offers many tips on how to reduce the emotional impact of divorce, some of which are listed below.

Feelings of anger, sadness, frustration and fear are very common among men and women going through a divorce or separation. If allowed to take control, however, these feelings can lead to prolonged periods of unhappiness. One way to cope with such feelings is simply to talk to someone who is a trusted associate. Unburdening one's self can be highly therapeutic. 

Mediation may be key to avoiding divorce-related health issues

The fact that a divorce can be stressful and emotional will come as no surprise to anyone. What might be surprising to some is that a messy divorce may have a negative effect on the physical health of children. For divorcing parents in British Columbia, choosing mediation over litigation may help to mitigate the effects.

Scientists from two Spanish universities recently released the results of a study looking at the health effects on children due to the divorce of their parents. They looked at 467 boys and girls aged 2 to 18 years old, some from intact families, others whose parents were divorced. The results were startling.

Extreme situations may not prevent spousal support after divorce

Although both the recipient and the payer of spousal support may have strong feelings about the arrangement, support payment awards are not based on emotion. A judge awards maintenance based on an established series of guidelines and calculates the amount with standardized formulae. What this means is that sometimes an award of support may be given during a divorce, even when it doesn't seem to be "deserved."

According to the law in British Columbia, an award of support has nothing to do with the conduct of either party. In some extreme circumstances, however, a judge may deny support payments. During a recent case, examples were cited of cases wherein one spouse was denied support payments because he or she attempted to murder the other spouse.

The marital home may be the trickiest part of property division

During the course of a marriage, the typical married couple accumulates a wide variety of assets, from stamp collections to silverware. For most, the marital home tops them all for value, and its disposition is the most important consideration during the process of property division. Choosing what to do with it may not be easy, but for those who sell, specialized help may be available.

Thanks in part to the recent huge upswing in the real estate market, homes in British Columbia are selling for top dollar. While valuating their assets, some divorcing couples may discover their home is worth far more than what they paid for it. This may seem on the surface like hitting the jackpot, but it could actually be bad news for some people. It may be that the value of the home is too great to be balanced by the rest of the estate, or that neither party can afford to buy out the other party's share. The only choice may be to sell the home and share the proceeds.

Tax implications are worth considering during a divorce

When a marriage ends, just about every aspect of the spouses' respective lives will change. There may be a change in residence, schedule and certainly in personal finances following a divorce. There will also be changes to both parties' tax situations. There are special tax implications every divorcing person in British Columbia should know about.

The Canada Revenue Agency needs to know when a couple's marital status changes, as this affects many aspects of a person's taxes. For example, if the household income drops, which it typically does, that could change the amount of the GST/HST credit, and child tax benefits. Additionally, there may be provincial tax benefits that are affected.

Choosing mediation in BC is a good idea, but who will mediate?

People living in British Columbia have a range of divorce options that did not exist not so many years ago. Rather than going to court, many divorcing couples choose a form of alternative dispute resolution to sort out their marital dissolution in a less confrontational manner. Mediation is proving to be among the most popular choices. However, what guarantees do people have as to the quality of mediators available to them?

Fewer people are taking their legal disputes to court, with one source suggesting the figure may be as low as 7 percent. Despite the increasing popularity of mediation for resolving divorce and family law issues, however, mediation is essentially an unregulated profession. Some in the industry recognize the need for proper training and certification of mediators. 

More facts about property division in British Columbia

When a marriage or marriage-like relationship ends, one life suddenly becomes two. As the couple splits apart, so too must all their belongings. During the process of property division, the combined assets and liabilities of a couple are spread between the former partners before they go off to live separately. Here are some answers to the questions men and women may have about dividing assets in British Columbia.

The Family Law Act of March 2013, brought many changes to the rules for property division in BC. As things stand now, former partners will typically be granted an equal share of the value of their combined assets and debts. Property brought into the marriage or long-term relationship remains in the possession of the original owner. Be aware that time restrictions are enforced: an application for property division must be made within two years of the divorce order, or within two years of the date of separation for unmarried couples.