Surrey British Columbia Family Law Blog

Islamic marriage contracts and divorce in British Columbia

The breakdown of marriages affects people of various customs and religious backgrounds in different ways. When it comes to those of the Islamic faith in British Columbia and the issue of divorce, things can get even more difficult when religious-based marriage contracts are part of the scenario. It has been challenging for lawyers as well as for the courts.

A maher is a traditional Islamic marriage contract. When a couple of that faith decides to divorce in Canada, it is pretty much the same -- considerations are given to issues like spousal and child support and custody. But when a couples marries with these contracts in place and there are specific agreements regarding things like assets contained within them, a family court judge has to decide on their validity. In one such instance, the maher of an Islamic couple in British Columbia said that in the event the couple should divorce, the husband had to give his wife a kilogram of gold. The judge ruled that the contract was valid and ordered the man to his spouse $56,498.62 which was the value of that amount of gold at the time.

Family law: Genetic testing on immigrants

Genetic testing is used in many immigration cases, and experts are saying this practice could be dangerous. These kinds of issues in British Columbia and in all of Canada come under the family law umbrella and are, for the most part, controversial. Biological relationships have been confirmed or denied by DNA tests by immigration authorities since the 1990s, and in some cases, private ancestry companies have been used to conduct those tests.

Opponents to the tests believe they may be going too far and can even be used to ascertain whether a possible immigrant is likely to develop a disease that could possibly be taxing on the health care system. As it stands, the legalities are few when it comes to conducting these kinds of tests on possible immigrants. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) doesn't specifically make mention of genetic testing, so that omission leaves the door wide open for interpretation.

Money woes after divorce affects spousal support payments

Changes to the income of those who are paying spousal support are reason enough for them to ask for reductions in what they have to pay. When a couple goes through a divorce in British Columbia, it may be that the partner who makes more money may have to pay support to the one who doesn't make as much or who doesn't work at all. Recently, there have been rumblings among many who pay support to have the amount lessened when they face financial hardship. It's important to note that spousal support is distinctly different from child support.

It should be noted that courts in Canada will only entertain lowering spousal support payments if the payor's financial situation takes a turn for the worse. The court looks at each request on an individual basis, asking common questions such as how long was the couple married? Is there a change in the payor's employment status or a decrease in wages? Did the payee stay home to care for children instead of working outside the home?

Parents' actions during divorce can affect their children

No person is free of having made or of making mistakes. British Columbia parents strive to be the best parents they can be, but when divorce is looking more like a reality, it may be hard going while the couple tries to sort out who is going to do what and when with the children. There are some things for a couple to ponder – and that may help their kids – before they decide to call it quits. 

It may be too rash for one parent to move out of the family home right away. One person can move into a spare room. Until parents iron out details regarding child custody or have a separation agreement in place, it's better if both parents remain in the home unless violence is involved. Divorce begets volatile situations, but the next piece of advice experts give is to try to rein in negative emotions since parents' actions and words can affect their children.

Family law: When situations change child support payments

The law does not look favourably on those who skip out on child support payments. Family law in British Columbia makes is quite clear that children come first and making support payments is in their best interests. Sometimes, though, life has a way of creating situations of financial hardship, making it difficult for the payor to fulfill his or her child support obligations.

Not paying can have serious repercussions -- like having wages garnished, a passport seized or a driver's licence revoked -- so it is important that the payor let the payee know of a change in circumstances. The parents may be able to iron out a new payment amount and schedule or the case may have to be heard by a family law judge. If the original payment amount was ordered by the court, the new amount has also got to be filed with the court.

Revisiting Your Estate Planning After Separation Is Essential

Imagine you’re separated from a spouse you legally married but didn’t bother to divorce as you didn’t want to marry again. Instead, you formed a common-law arrangement with another spouse.

You’ve maintained a life insurance policy for many years with your ex-spouse as the beneficiary. You assume that the separation will make your common-law spouse the beneficiary of your insurance policy. But after you die, the insurance company pays the benefit to your ex-spouse. There may be little your common-law spouse can do about it, even if you intended that the common-law spouse receive the insurance payment. The ex-spouse is still the beneficiary, as the beneficiary designation was never changed.

January seems to be divorce month in British Columbia

Once December's merrymaking comes to an end and life gets back to some semblance of normality, the new year can be a time when some couples have the serious breakup talk. In British Columbia, January seems to have been labelled as the month for divorce talks and there may be many reasons for this. It may be that a couple has been thinking of separating for a while, but both people decided to wait until the holidays have passed, especially when children are involved. 

January just makes sense for many people to do some serious introspection about their lives and if a marriage has been unhappy for some time, the start of a new year may seem appropriate to start thinking about what a new life would look like. For some, January is the perfect month to start discussing how separating would look and what steps need to be taken. By the same token, it may also be the perfect time to give the marriage one last-ditch effort by talking to a marriage counsellor.

Divorce doesn't need to have negative effects on kids

If parents go about splitting up in a way that feels like the war of the worlds, it could have a long-lasting effect on their kids. There is no getting around it, divorce in the best of circumstances is difficult, but when British Columbia parents keep their children out of the lines of fire, they truly are acting in their kids' best interests. Divorce always leaves some impact on everyone involved, but staying in an unhappy marriage is, according to experts, even more detrimental to everyone's mental health.

Abandonment issues are what many children of divorce may feel, so it is important that both parents make it clear that they are not leaving their children, that the family dynamic is changing, not ending. Parents are the ones who can protect their children from divorce by consistent positive reinforcements through words and actions and especially through how each parent treats the other in a child's presence. Blaming and shaming each other or a child is unacceptable.

The wisdom of divorce after years of being separated

When a couple has been separated for many years, they may be asking whether it's a good idea to make the split legal. British Columbia married couples who are thinking about divorce after living apart for years should really look at all the issues involved when making the final cut to their relationship regardless of how many years they've been apart.  They really have to look at their own situation and what they would be losing. 

When a couple divorces, one partner may lose out  financially. One spouse could be benefiting from the other's extended health care benefits, for instance. He or she could also be getting funds from a life insurance dividend or be included in a will. Divorce will likely nullify these things. 

Family law: Arguing over residential arrangements could hurt kids

The best interests of the children should always be at the forefront of any divorce agreements. Family law in British Columbia has rules in place to see that this is the case.  When parents start to quibble over splitting their physical time with their children on a 50-50 basis, chances are it becomes about what is best for them and not for their kids. When arguments ensue about who is with the kids and for how long, it can create problems in children that may follow them into adulthood.

Parenting plans should focus on each child having a meaningful relationship with each parent. Whatever arrangements are made should reflect that. Removing conflict from a child's life may prevent the child from seeking out some mode of escapism that isn't healthy. 

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