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Vancouver and Edmonton Family Law Blog

Children's issues: The important role of stepmothers

Blended families are becoming more the norm in the country and around the world. One of the most important children's issues in British Columbia surrounds the relationships between stepmothers and their stepchildren. Stepmothers have not always been given good press or been painted in a rosy light in movies, but most stepmoms are working hard to change the negative perception of the roles they play in their stepchildren's lives. 

For the most part, stepmothers have always been portrayed as evil or dark in the movies. They have been seen as manipulative and out for their own gain and definitely not wanting what is best for their stepchildren. A three-year study showed that stepmothers are treated unfairly as having a negative role in their stepchildren's lives largely due to decades of negative stigma. But research has also showed that stepmothers actually hold the family together after the negative impact of divorce by providing emotional support to children and helping them through tough transitions.

Family law: There are financial options in a grey divorce

Couples who divorce later in life may have a newfound emotional freedom, but it may come at a hefty financial cost. Divorce is ruled by family law in Alberta, which spells out how a couple's assets and debts should be divided upon separation or divorce. When couples divorce after many years of marriage and when the people are 50 years of age or older, grey divorce, as it is known, can seriously impact each person's pocketbook.

Statistics Canada data shows that the highest rates of divorce in the country are among older couples. Some of these couples have already started using their retirement savings and if there is no income flowing into the marriage and assets have been divided, each may need to use those assets to stay financially afloat. If they own a home, most experts suggest selling it to increase their income. If one spouse pays the other support, any pensions are considered income and so taxed as income for the payee and can be claimed as a deduction by the payor.

Family law: Options for couples thinking about divorce

Making the decision to divorce may be one of the most challenging decisions a person will ever make. Most British Columbia couples have much invested in their marriages and ending a relationship is never easy. Family law in the province provides some guidelines for couples to follow if they choose to end their marriages. But before ending a marriage for good, experts suggest each person may want to consider doing a few important things.

Spouses should know there is help for them together and independently if they are thinking about divorce as an option. Personal therapy and marriage counselling may clarify some murky issues with which spouses may be struggling. Couples counselling may help a couple to work through problems they can't work through on their own, while individual counselling may help each person with any insecurities and stress that could be taken into the marriage.

Family law: Separated Alberta couple duke it out over debts

If a couple divorces and they have taken care of splitting their assets and their debts, one would think that is the end of the story. Not always, apparently, as one former Alberta couple found out recently. Rules in these cases fall under the family law umbrella in the province. The couple in question was pretty financially successful during the marriage, but the businesses they owned had to be liquidated after they separated, causing a battle on how to split the proceeds.

Apparently, the couple let these important issues slide -- including coming to a decision as to resolve the financial aspect of their split. After six years of being apart, the man racked up more than $115,000 in debt via credit cards and a line of credit, while the woman had less than $1,500 of debt on her credit card. The man suggested his former wife should be responsible for half of his debts, and of course, she didn't agree.

Children's issues: Funds earmarked to reduce poverty rates

Poverty has a penchant for destruction in many ways. Sadly, many children's issues in British Columbia are enmeshed with this societal problem, however, the provincial government says it intends to do something about it by putting $5 million on the line for municipalities to be able to come up with local action to help lower the overall rate of poverty by 25% and the rate of child poverty by 50% over the next five years. Funds are earmarked for the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) for work under the Poverty Reduction Planning and Action program. 

It is hoped, the province says, that the money will enable community organizations and municipalities to identify the most dire situations in their areas and to come up with insular solutions to fight poverty. Projects that include children, housing, families, income, social supports, education and training and employment will be given priority. The province had already pledged $6 million in June of this year to projects aiming to reduce and to prevent homelessness. 

What is an annulment?

An annulment is a legal document that says your marriage was not a valid marriage. There are other ways to end a marriage, such as separating from your partner, or filing for a divorce. However, an annulment is not a way to end a marriage. Instead, it is an official document that states the marriage did not exist in the first place.

As outlined on the Alberta government website, there are certain criteria that must be met in order to qualify for an annulment. Among the reasons are that you were already married to someone else, meaning you could not marry a second person. Another reason could be that you entered the marriage under duress or pressure, meaning you did not enter it under your own free will.

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

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