Surrey British Columbia Family Law Blog

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. 

Family law: Final separation agreements may not be final at all

If a separating couple is going to have a documented separation agreement, they might want to know that it may never be a final document. Separation and divorce in British Columbia are governed by family law. Agreements drawn up without legal advice may be scrutinized by the court if parts of the document are erroneous.

For instance, such a document was written by the husband of a British Columbia couple who was separating. A judge decided that the one-page, double-spaced document left out a number of important details and stipulated that the document was final. When the husband decided he didn't like the agreement and thought he deserved more of the pie, he tried to have it declared invalid on a number of grounds and began family law proceedings. A judge ruled that the agreement was not final, which paved the way for the husband to pursue added compensation from his estranged wife, who was a business owner. The judge actually ordered the wife to pay the man $150,000.

Family law: Woman given OK to use in vitro embryos

A woman who wanted to use frozen embryos to conceive a child after she divorced from her husband has been given the go-ahead by a judge. These kinds of decisions in British Columbia as well as the rest of the country come under the family law umbrella. The woman's former husband did not agree with her wish, so they woman pursued the legal avenue.

Federal law states that people who create embryos from their sperm and eggs should both have control over those in vitro embryos. The law also states that if one spouse changes his or her mind about the embryos, they should not be used. The Ontario judge who made the ruling, however, set a precedent by overruling the federal law that some say was not a wise move even though neither party has any genetic connection to the embryo since eggs and sperm were purchased from other donors.

Divorce for older couples can create financial hardship

Couples who have been married for many years most likely have amassed many assets together. When an older married couple in British Columbia -- for whatever reasons -- decides to call it quits, there may be a lot at stake financially. Divorce later in life comes with its own set of problems.

Incidents of divorce are rising even for couples in their 60s and 70s. At this point in a marriage, there may be many assets to divide. There also might be an issue of one or both individuals needing to return to the workforce in order to be able to stay afloat financially and that could pose a real problem since some employers don't look favourably on hiring older employees.

Family law: British Columbia divorce files publicly accessible

Marriage and divorce are federally mandated in Canada, but most other family law issues fall under widely varying provincial laws. Divorce records in British Columbia and others in provinces and territories -- with the exception of Quebec -- aren't sealed and so every personal detail can be publicly scrutinized.

That means if court records contain such things as information about affairs, naked photos, evidence of abuse -- all this private information isn't so private after all. These files can be teeming with information to which neither individual would want anyone to have access, but there is no way to stop someone from obtaining it once it's in a divorce file. In addition to all that, there could also be information relating to a marital home, bank accounts and debts owed. These files could read like a salacious novel.

How much say should teens have in their parents' divorce?

Teenagers usually have very definitive thoughts about things and are at an age where they like to assert their feelings. But when a teen's parents divorce, should he or she have a say in what transpires in the process? One British Columbia Court of Appeal judge thinks not, at least in one particular case.

A 17-year-old female was denied the chance to voice her opinion in her parents' contentious divorce. She told the media she doesn't understand the ruling since no one can make her do anything she doesn't want to do, including going to counselling. Since 2003 when the couple divorced, the young woman's father has seen very little of her, accusing her mother of alienating his daughter from him.

Can divorce affect British Columbia residents' careers?

There is no denying that life after a marital breakup changes. But, can divorce also affect a British Columbia resident's professional life as well? Most people work hard in their careers. They aim to excel in their chosen professions, so there are some things that can be done to prevent what is happening in life personally from impeding life professionally.

It's important that a supervisor or manager be told when an employee is going through something as rough as a divorce. It may affect work performance or the employee may need some time off. A work place may have the resources to help employees in such situations such as providing a counsellor to speak to. Some people who have been ordered to pay child and/or spousal support may think about quitting their jobs entirely in the attempt to lower the amount of support to be ordered. That's not a wise step.

Family law: The fairness factor of spousal support

Life can seem unfair at times. When a British Columbia couple breaks up, there are family law rules in place to ensure there is as much fairness as possible in the divorce process. However, a former partner who pays spousal support may not see it that way. If a couple can't come to an agreement on a figure, a judge will do it for them, so there is a lot to say about trying to work out a settlement.

The rules aren't written in stone when it comes to financially supporting a former partner. But the aim of support is to level the financial playing field. So, when one spouse earns more than another, financial support may be in order. Other factors that may play a bearing on the amount of support is how long the couple was married and whether there are minor children involved.

Understanding property division laws could help prevent disputes

When couples in British Columbia end their relationships, there are often two primary concerns -- what happens to their children and what happens to their property. Unless you entered into an agreement prior to your relationship that divides your property upon divorce, you will need to address this issue during your proceedings. You will also need to go through this process if your common law relationship lasted for a minimum of two years.

The trick is knowing what category each piece of property falls into since this will dictate how it will be divided. Having at least a basic understanding of how the property division process works could help avoid any unnecessary disputes borne out of not understanding how the law views your assets.

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