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Vancouver and Edmonton Family Law Blog

Children's issues: Edmonton Police Service and child protection

The Edmonton Police Service (EPS) has protocols in place to ensure the safety of every child in the community. Child sexual abuse and severe physical abuse of children are among two of the most heinous children's issues in Alberta and the rest of the world. The EPS child protection section investigates these types of alleged abuses working in the multi-disciplinary Zebra-Child Protection Centre.

Among the cases the EPS investigates are sexual abuse complaints regarding children under the age of 14; sexual assault complaints regarding youth between the ages of 14 and 17 where the minors are in the care of others such as group homes or schools; and serious physical assault allegations pertaining to children under the age of 14. There are numerous other instances when the authorities become involved as well. The EPS also steps in when a child is allegedly in imminent danger or is at risk.  

Children's issues: When bullying becomes a nasty problem

When parents see their children struggling, they struggle, too. One of the most pressing children's issues in British Columbia, as in the rest of the country, is that of bullying. Being bullied can affect a child's welfare in numerous ways and when parents get wind of what's going on, they may feel helpless. There are, however, some proactive things parents can do to help their children.

Firstly, bullying takes in four forms: physical, verbal, social and cyber. A parent will see marked changes in a child who is being bullied. He or she may withdraw from social activities, grades might drop, the child might not want to go to school, may wet the bed, and toys or money may go missing. Talking to children and letting them know the bullying isn't their fault are the first courses of action. Determining how severe the bullying is, is extremely important and letting teachers and school managers know what is going on is also necessary.

Family law: Helping kids the first Christmas after divorce

Major holidays like Christmas are usually a time for revelry, happiness and merrymaking. But for some British Columbia residents who have experienced a loss, the first holiday after that loss can be miserable whether it is losing someone through death, separation or divorce. When it is through divorce, couples who are parents may be able to find some solace when dealing with what they're going through by way of family law tools that may help to make decisions easier -- things like co-parenting plans.

Most people who go through a divorce also need time to grieve and yet the person they've lost may still be a part of their lives especially when they share children. Divorce is somewhat akin to death in that the family unit as it once was is no longer, and the feelings accompanying that realization may be intensive over the holiday season. It is crucial to make the transition as easy as possible for children by allowing them to express their feelings, especially when they are likely not spending Christmas Day with both parents. 

Children's issues: Kids entitled to same human rights as adults

Adults aren't the only ones with rights. When Alberta residents are dealing with children's issues, they should keep in mind that children also have rights -- human rights as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Children have the right to be protected from abuse, discrimination and other things that could put them in vulnerable positions. Canada acknowledges the value of human rights for children and in 1991 ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The convention assures children have individual identities and as such are guaranteed human rights. They have the right to be seen and heard when it comes to decisions that impact their lives. The Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act also exists in Canada which outlines procedures when children's rights are infringed upon. Kids have the option of speaking to an advocate on their behalf is the need should arise.

British Columbia family law: When a child's paternity is an issue

When the paternity of a child is an issue, there are things that need to be done when it comes to child support. However, family law in British Columbia stipulates that even when a man turns out not to be the biological father of a child, he still may be financially responsible for that child. There are a number of things in British Columbia laws that suggest a man is a father of a child.

These things include: if he was married to the child's mother when the child was born; if he was married to the mother and within 300 days before the baby was born, the marriage ended by divorce or his death; if he married the child's mother after the baby was born, but she says he is the father; if both agree he is the father and his name is on the birth certificate; if he was living in a common law relationship with the child's mother at the time the child was born or 300 days before the birth; if he agrees he is the father and signs an agreement  under the Child Paternity and Support Act. If he meets any of these criteria and ultimately denies he is the father, the onus will be on him to prove otherwise. Legal advice may be necessary.

Family law: When a woman wants to keep her married name

When a couple divorces, there may be something a former wife wants to keep that makes her former husband scratch his head: his surname. There is no set rule in family law in Alberta that says she can't do that, but if it's a bone of contention, the man can always make it a part of the divorce agreement. If a man is adamant he doesn't want his former wife to keep his surname and yet she wants to, he may have to make some concessions to get her agreement.

There are several reasons a woman may wish to keep her married surname. Usually if a couple has been married for several years, her last name may be a part of her professional identity that she doesn't wish to relinquish. If the name is well-known in social circles, that could be another reason she would choose to keep it, rather than revert to her birth surname.

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

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