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Vancouver and Edmonton Family Law Blog

Children's issues: Too many delays for autism diagnoses

There is likely nothing more frustrating for any parent than waiting on a diagnosis for their child. British Columbia parents concerned with children's issues have become vocal when it comes to how the province handles diagnosing children with autism. Parents say the diagnosis procedure also needs to be revamped with more health care providers trained in diagnostics. 

Parents say it's just taking too long to get these diagnoses for their children and it is affecting their children in negative ways. Some parents have even kept their children out of a classroom setting choosing to home school instead because without a proper diagnosis of autism, they can't get additional help for their kids in school. Even so, many children in British Columbia don't get extra help until they're either suspended or expelled which can be difficult for a child's self-esteem and self-confidence. 

Family law: Social worker claims province trying to drive her out

A social worker says the provincial child welfare system wants to get rid of her for going to bat for parents. The Alberta woman -- who has spoken up regarding some issues surrounding family law -- says she is being penalized for defending parents against what she alleges are discriminatory, abusive and deceptive practices within the provincial child welfare system. The woman is often paid through Legal Aid which, she says, has drastically reduced her payment and payment structure.

She says she believes it was no accident that her pay was reduced right after her involvement in a case regarding an apprehended infant where she disagreed with the actions of Children's Services. Legal Aid and Children's Services say that is not the case. In fact, the social worker actually spent 10 years working for Children's Services and left to become an advocate for parents after citing many flaws in the system.  

Family law: January sees increased levels of divorce filings

Once Christmas is over and the glitter of the holidays is coming to an end, couples whose marriages have been in turmoil may decide that a new year is the right time for a fresh start. Some British Columbia couples make the difficult decision to divorce in January -- a month that is a popular one for endings and beginnings. Lawyers who focus on family law see many clients with questions regarding ending their marriages or common law unions during this time. 

January is commonly known among lawyers as divorce month. The divorce rate in Canada is around 45% and with divorce being less stigmatized in society. Not all are fraught with discord and indeed some couples who remain friends after they've untied the knot actually celebrate their divorces. In fact, one British Columbia minister even offers divorce ceremonies allowing soon-to-be non-couples to undo their vows, make a commitment to their children and say a formal goodbye to their marriages.

Family law: Length of spousal support payments can be perplexing

How many years a former spouse should receive support payments has been a bone of contention for quite some time. Alberta residents who pay and who receive spousal support are guided by both provincial and federal family law rules. Those who are divorced are can look to Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (SSAG), but decisions as to how long the support should last remains all over the map. Generally, the longer a couple was married, the longer support is payable, but that isn't written in stone.

Support guidelines, which apply to every province and territory in Canada, were introduced in 2008 with an aim of giving residents a more definitive picture of how support should be calculated. Courts consider two issues when deciding on payments: the length of the relationship and the age of the youngest child when the couple separated. If there are young children involved, chances are the payor will have to make payments for a longer period of time, especially when the recipient of spousal support is the primary caregiver for the children.

Are you eligible for spousal support?

When you realized your marriage was coming to an end, you may have had many concerns, especially if you have children. One important consideration is your financial future and making ends meet, at least for the first few years after the divorce. If you have been out of the workforce for some time, for example to raise children, or if you have depended on your spouse's higher salary throughout your marriage, the changes a divorce brings to your finances can be devastating.

For this reason, you may seek spousal support as part of your divorce. The laws attempt to treat each divorce as fairly as possible, so you may have an idea of what to expect if you are seeking spousal support. However, such support is not a given, which is why having legal counsel throughout the divorce process is an excellent idea.

Family law: Saying I do to a marriage contract

Marriage contracts are becoming more acceptable, but before signing on the dotted line, there are some things of which people should be aware. These types of contracts in Alberta -- which also include cohabitation agreements for couples who choose to live together without marrying -- fall under family law rules. Understanding how the law applies to these contracts is crucial before signing them.

Alberta, as in other provinces, has laws which detail how the division of assets should take place in the event of a divorce or separation. Having a marriage contract can speak to issues regarding a home that was brought into the marriage or relationship or what should happen if a spouse is given a gift before the marriage takes place. They are also used at times when an individual is marrying for a second time. A marriage contract must meet certain requirements under the law, so getting independent legal counsel may be beneficial.

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

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