Surrey British Columbia Family Law Blog

Can dogs be a tool in the mediation process?

There are a number of emotional areas of the law. Mediation can be one of those processes that can be emotionally taxing, and there may be help for British Columbia residents having a tough time going through the family mediation process: having an even-tempered, tail-wagging friend in the room. Apparently, a dog can be a man, woman and child's best friend when it comes to emotional legal proceedings like mediation.

Dogs and humans have evolved together over thousands of years. Therapy dogs can have a calming effect on people who are under a lot of stress and that may mean during mediation talks. They may, in fact, be one of the best tools a lawyer or mediator can use during the mediation process. Dogs are known for reducing stress, promoting trust and enhancing communication between people, so it stands to reason they might be a good fit during mediation where these attributes are crucial.

Strife during divorce may affect children adversely

No one may be as affected by a marital split than a child. Divorce is usually a difficult process for a British Columbia couple to go through, but it may be even more so for their children. In fact, the fallout of divorce may create behaviours in a child that usually wouldn't be typical of him or her. It may be harder for a child to concentrate on tasks, may cause a child to fidget more or create hardship when needing to manage tasks -- especially at school.

In some cases, a child may even be misdiagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), when, in fact, he or she  may just be dealing with something known as attention divided by divorce. A child may act in the same way in either case, so it's important for teachers to understand what is happening in a child's home life. When a child experiences high conflict at home, he or she may show signs of that in a classroom.

Family law: Sharing major lottery winnings with a former spouse

Hitting the lottery jackpot would make most people jump up and down for joy. But the delight might be short-lived for divorced British Columbia residents who get a windfall if they have to share the winnings with a former spouse. These are the types of issues that fall under the provincial family law umbrella, but they're not always so cut and dried.

Much might hinge on where in the divorce process the couple is at the time one had the fortune of winning the lottery. A lot depends upon a couple's unique circumstances whether a major lottery winning would have to be shared. In most parts of Canada, the sharing of lottery winnings when a couple is either separated or divorced is unlikely to be ordered by a court. But estranged or divorced couples have still fought over it.

Divorce in British Columbia: Is mediation right for you?

Coming to an amicable agreement during a divorce may take some work. After all, a couple is likely divorcing because they can't agree on major issues within a marriage. So divorce mediation in British Columbia may help to smooth out some of the rough patches that couples face when coming to a divorce settlement. A mediator may be worth his or her weight in gold in this respect.

In essence, the couple controls the outcome of the mediation process while the mediator facilitates that process by laying the negotiating ground rules, keeping communication open between the parties and acting as a sounding board for the couple. Mediators will encourage the couple to come to some consensus on issues that may be causing problems. There is no set time for the process to take place. It depends upon the issues that need to be ironed out be the individual couple.

Family law: Some calling for Amber Alert System remodification

The Amber Alert System (AAS) has helped reunite many abducted children with their families. Family law in British Columbia -- and in all the country -- makes the best interests of a child paramount, and that includes keeping a child safe from harm. Although the AAS has helped many kids, some Canadians are thinking the system could be better, and many have complained that the shrill sound coming from their cell phones in the middle of the night isn't creating fans of the system. 

Canadians are calling for the AAS to be overhauled. Some people have been so irked about being awakened in the middle of the night by the alarm that they have called 911 to complain -- something for which 911 is not intended. Some believe that the system is operated poorly, despite the fact that it has been successful in finding abducted or lost children. 

Family law: When the paternity of a child is in question

There are many reasons why it may be necessary to ascertain who a child's biological father is. Paternity falls under British Columbia family law rules. Knowing who a child's father is may be important for situations concerning child support or child custody and doing what is in the best interests of the child. It should be known, however, that even if a man is found not to be a child's biological father, he may be held responsible for providing financially for a child, depending upon the circumstances.

There are criteria in British Columbia for presuming that a man is a child's biological father. These include if the man was married to the child's mother on the day the child was born. It could also be that he was living with the child's mother in a romantic relationship when the child was born or within 300 days before the birth of the child; he was married to the child's mother and, within 300 days before the birth of the child, the marriage ended by his death or by divorce.

Grey divorce poses unique challenges for British Columbia couples

Younger couples whose marriages end may have much with which to contend, and most of that may involve their young children. But that doesn't make divorce any less easy for older British Columbia couples whose children have left the nest. More couples in their 50s and beyond are choosing to divorce, but grey divorce can come with its own set of issues.

Older couples may have amassed far more combined assets that will have to be divided during the divorce process. There may, in some instances, be more at stake financially. Divorce used to be something very rarely seen among older married couples, but with changing times have come changing attitudes, and some couples decide that, once the children are grown, there is nothing more to keep them together. In fact, while only 4 per cent of married Canadians aged 65 or older were divorced in 1981, that number in 2013 had risen to 12 per cent. 

Getting through the divorce process with a checklist

As with most things in life making the decision to end a marriage or a common law relationship may take some planning. British Columbia married couples who have made the decision to divorce may find it helpful to have a road map of some sort as they move ahead as single individuals. Having a checklist of the things that need to be done may help the divorce process to be less complicated and less time-consuming.

Divorce is already fraught with what are often volatile emotions, so knowing what needs to be done can be a source of comfort in a trying time. First on the list should be the gathering of important documents such as bank account statements, copies of tax returns, credit card information, mortgage papers, wills, insurance policies, etc. It's necessary to cancel all joint credit cards and bank accounts and to pay off any debts incurred in both names, if that is financially feasible. Establishing individual credit is also important, so obtaining a solo credit card may be a wise idea.

Bill affecting divorce receives Royal Assent in parliament

Bill C-78 recently received Royal Assent in the federal parliament. The bill -- which affects British Columbia residents in the throes of divorce as well as other couples in the country -- strengthens federal family laws and also brings them into the 21st century. These are the first changes made in 20 years to three major laws affecting families.

The three federal laws that now have been formally amended are the Divorce Act; the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act. The new law will focus on having individuals do what is in the best interests of children involved in divorce, speak to family violence, make the justice system more efficient and accessible and help to reduce poverty. In keeping with these goals, the government plans to implement more streamlined processes to do so.

Family law: Paying child support after a child turns 18

There are times when child support doesn't end when a child turns 18 years old. British Columbia family law rules indicate that, if there is a maintenance order or an agreement that states otherwise, a payor must continue to pay child support until the order is no longer in effect or until the date stipulated in an agreement, which could mean until a dependent child finishes his or her post secondary education. Other factors that make an older child a dependent can include the child continuing to live at home, having a disability or a chronic medical condition, or being unable to find sustainable employment to live on his or her own.

British Columbia has the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (FMEP), which operates under the Family Maintenance Enforcement Act (FMEA). Payors pay their support to the program, which then disseminates the payments to payees. It is also responsible for monitoring and enforcing any support orders or agreements. Prior to a child reaching the age of majority -- or 18 years old -- a payee must inform FMEP of the child's circumstances, after which time FMEP will decide if support should continue or not. 

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