Surrey British Columbia Family Law Blog

Separation date important for determining divorce date

Deciding to separate leaves a couple with many things to consider. When separation will ultimately lead to divorce, British Columbia individuals need to keep in mind the date they actually separated since that will have a bearing on a number of issues. It's not always the easiest to pinpoint an exact date, however, since some couples decide to remain under the same roof during the separation. 

If a couple no longer maintains a level of intimacy or no longer have a sexual relationship (have separate bedrooms) and have made that decision based on separation, the time that decision was made could be used as the date of separation since couples living in the same space can still be separated under the law. But when couples separate and decide to reconcile or if one individual regards the relationship as ongoing, the separation date could actually be clouded. The court looks at a number of factors if a couple can't agree on a separation date.

Making the decision to talk about divorce like adults

A couple making the decision to end their marriage may have had some volatile conversations leading up to that decision. But experts say moving into a new decade British Columbia couples should learn how to discuss divorce in a more adult-like manner -- even when the issue is usually fraught with high emotions. The first step in discussing divorce is honesty since staying in a marriage when all avenues to rectify contentious issues have failed is not doing either individual or any children of the marriage any good.

Some of the major issues that need to be ironed out are child custody, what will happen to the family home and even who will take over the care of any family pets. Finances also need to be on the table including the issue of spousal support. Keeping a civil attitude toward a soon-to-be former spouse is also crucial when making decisions on these significant issues.

Family law: Things to think about before a divorce settlement

Once a couple has made the decision to end their marriage, they may want everything to be settled as quickly as possible. There are rules under family law in British Columbia that must be followed, however, rushing into a settlement without thought of the future may be a mistake. Many people focus on the present rather than thinking about what kinds of lives they want in the future, so taking time to think about that during the divorce process is very important.

Ideally, a divorcing couple will want to agree on a settlement that meets the needs of the present, while keeping the future in mind and providing for any children as they move into adulthood. Each spouse will want to ensure his and her financial security moving into the future as single individuals. Thought should also be given, experts suggest, about the former couple always having a connection if children came from the marriage. 

Keep 3 things in mind during family law mediation

When British Columbia parents decide to part ways, emotions often run high. Feelings of resentment, anger and sadness often interfere with fruitful negotiations. If they keep three things in mind, however, it may be possible to put those feelings aside in order to receive the maximum benefits possible from family law mediation.

First, it helps to put the children's needs first. Would bickering with the other parent make the situation better for them? Would trying to keep the other parent away from the children out of spite or anger help the children in the short or long term? More than likely, the answers to these questions is "No." In that case, both parents should put their feelings for each other aside in lieu of meeting the children's needs.

Divorce doesn't need to ruin your mental health

When a married couple decides it's time to part ways, many aspects of life will be affected. Divorce -- although sometimes the only final solution to a rocky marriage -- can bring with it more than just financial difficulties. Experts say divorce can also wreak havoc on the mental health of British Columbia couples and their children. Problems that might arise during separation or divorce -- like those concerning finances -- could roll out into other areas, causing mental stress.

In fact, statistics show that the debt stress often faced by divorcing couples can bring on added worries. Should the home be kept or sold? Who will pay child support and how much? Who will the children spend most of their time with? These are all questions that can't be sidestepped in divorce and weigh heavily on many people.

Family law: Researcher says not enough done to end child marriage

The law states that doing what is in the best interests of children is imperative. There are rules in family law that safeguard children, but some believe that Canada is falling short when it comes to ending child marriage despite the fact that there are laws in place that protect children in British Columbia and the rest of the country from such situations. In fact, some experts say thousands of legal child marriages have taken place right in Canada over the last 20 years. 

An assistant professor at a prominent Canadian university conducted research recently that found that more than 3,800 marriage licenses involving minors as young as 16 were issued in Canada between 2000 and 2018. She amassed the data from the country's vital statistics offices, which issue marriage certificates. British Columbia issued 49 of those marriage licenses. The stats don't include common law unions involving minors or situations where Canadian minors were taken out of the country to be married and then returned. 

Will Variations: What You Need To Know

A will variation is when someone requests a change to a will after the passing of a loved one. Whether a spouse, adult child or grandchild is requesting the change, it’s essential to understand the nature of the requested change.

A will variation is not intended to alter the wishes or intentions of the deceased. This means that if property was evenly divided among surviving siblings, but one sibling didn’t like the property he or she was left with, this would most likely not qualify for a will variation.

Separating fact from fiction in the divorce process

There are all kinds of misconceptions about what divorce is and what it isn't. One thing is for certain -- divorce isn't easy, but knowing fact from fiction when it comes to the process in British Columbia may help couples get over any hurdles they might face. The first thing to understand is that Canada has a no-fault divorce system, so the adultery card generally doesn't play a part in deciding on matters like child custody or property division.

Another misconception for many is that if a spouse won't sign divorce papers, the divorce can't happen. That's not so. An individual can apply for divorce if the grounds for divorce have been met, which includes living apart from a spouse for a year or more. When it comes to couples in a common law union, each province has its own laws, though issues of child and/or spousal support and division of assets and debts also come into play.

Family law: Appeal court says teen can continue hormone therapy

A teen can proceed with hormone therapy to transition from female to male, the B.C. Court of Appeal recently ruled. The British Columbia panel of three judges ruled that the teen, who identifies as male but who was born female, doesn't need further consent from his parents in order to proceed with treatment. Family law in the province says that a mature minor can consent to medical treatment without parental agreement.

In this case, the teen's father was against the hormone therapy of his now 15-year-old child. Two judges said the teen was caused significant pain from his father who didn't respect his wish to transition and that a breach in their relationship is not in the child's best interests. The judges were told the father allegedly failed to speak with his child's medical team or even to discuss the issue with his child.

Matrimonial home may cause confusion during property division

Yours, mine and ours. That's what needs to be decided when it comes to property division when a couple is headed for divorce. The matrimonial home is likely the thing around which the biggest and often most contentious decisions are made. Separating property -- including the matrimonial home -- is governed by provincial legislation in British Columbia, whether the couple is married or unmarried, in a heterosexual relationship or a same-sex one.

To qualify as a matrimonial home, a property must be ordinarily occupied at the time of the couple's separation. The problem is, these types of terms leave room for various interpretations. The couple might own a cottage which still could be considered a matrimonial home since it doesn't have to be occupied all the time. More often than not, a family court judge will rule that a recreational property can also fit the bill of a matrimonial home if used within a reasonable time prior to the separation. 

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