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Vancouver and Edmonton Family Law Blog

Children's issues: What does best interests really mean?

It can be a particularly difficult time for kids when they learn that their parents are divorcing. When it comes to children's issues in British Columbia, family court judges will always make decisions that take into account what is in the best interests of the children involved. But, what does that really mean? It might help parents to get some clarification.

In British Columbia, the best interests of the child is used as a guideline in court to protect a child's welfare -- physical, emotional and psychological. It also serves as a yardstick for a child's security, safety and well-being. Parents need to keep a few things in mind when they are considering what is in their children's best interests. Realizing that the courts will use the same measurements may help parents to do what's best for their kids.

Family law: Man in marriage of convenience faces citizenship woes

An immigrant will be having his citizenship revoked for a marriage faux pas. British Columbia and other Canadian provinces and territories do not forgive violations of family law or criminal law lightly. Even so, the federal government rarely revokes citizenship once granted, but it is revoking the citizenship of a Chinese man it says secured his citizenship through a false marriage nine years ago. The government claims the man was in an alleged marriage of convenience to obtain Canadian citizenship.

The man's former wife says she received a sum of cash on the wedding day and an additional sum after the wedding took place. The man divorced the woman two years after the marriage took place. The federal government was ordered by a court to give the man a fair hearing prior to stripping him of his citizenship. 

Date of marital separation important under Alberta family law

The date a couple formally separates plays a major part in the divorce process. Determining that date under family law in Alberta can be confusing and may lead to complications. Unlike proving the date of marriage, doing the same for separation can be complex since a couple may continue to live under the same roof even though they consider themselves separated.

It is crucial to note the exact date upon which a couple separates since the court may use that date to make certain financial calculations such as money owed to one spouse from another. It is usually the spouse who earns more who makes equalizations payments -- from the time of the marriage to the date of separation. When making a decision to select a date of separation, one spouse may prefer a date that is later if net worth has decreased over the years.

Preteens and Divorce

Preteens are generally between the ages of 9 to 12 years old. In terms of behaviour, it’s common to see children in this age group doing more in activities in school, hanging out with friends more frequently, attending birthdays, playing sports, joining clubs, and participating in events.

In terms of personality, children this age are becoming more social and actually begin to understand more about relationships, especially between adults. It’s important to note that while this age group may understand what a divorce or separation means, they may have difficulty with the emotional impact this may have.

Parenting Plans: Holidays and Special Occasions

The first year following a divorce or separation can be difficult for parents and children. How will they spend the summer? Which parent gets to take the children on vacation? Who takes the children trick-or-treating?

These are all issues that parents should formalize in a parenting plan. It may not solve all the issues or special circumstances that come up, but it can lay out the blueprint for how to handle and resolve any problems that may occur.

Even court-ordered child support is not set in stone

The laws of Alberta and other provinces recognize the duty of parents to support and provide for their children. Whether you and the other parent were married or never even lived together, you are both responsible to provide the child with the financial support that allows the child to maintain a standard of living comparable to that he or she would enjoy if both parents were in the home.

It is possible that you and your ex-partner worked out an agreement for support payments. However, unless the agreement is in writing, you may have little legal ground to stand on if a dispute arises. On the other hand, if you have a court approved support agreement, you may be wondering if you would ever have the right to change the amount of support.

Understand your legal options. Make informed decisions. Contact the family law lawyers of Henderson Heinrichs LLP


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