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Vancouver Family Law Blog

Understanding division of property rules in divorce

A breakup can be complicated, both emotionally and practically. Couples often express their bond with each other by accumulating things as partners, such as a home, vehicles, jewelry or other valuables. British Columbia laws for division of property are not limited to married couples. If two people have lived together as if they were married for two years or longer, the laws for asset division may apply. Therefore, it is important for all couples going through a breakup to understand their rights and what they might expect from the legal process.

If a couple separates, they must determine which of their property is family property that is jointly owned and which is excluded property to which only one spouse can claim ownership. Excluded property may include anything a partner owned before they got married or began their cohabitation. Items like inheritances, individual gifts and damage awards or insurance payouts, such as from an accident injury, are typically excluded.

Divorce grief is a natural part of this family law process

Even those in British Columbia who are ready to move on from their marriages may be surprised to experience feelings of loss when they decide to meet with a family law professional and begin divorce proceedings. Marriage often sets the stage for a couple's hopes and dreams, and divorce may seem like the end of those dreams. While some may have already adjusted to being apart from a spouse, especially if they have been separated for some time, grieving the marriage itself can often be an entirely different process. However, there are ways to get through it successfully.

Emotional upheaval is often part of major change. Divorce can be one of the most tumultuous changes many people go through. Taking the time to recognize those feelings of loss can be an important part in the healing process. Forgiveness is also critical, and divorcing spouses may have to find creative ways to forgive themselves and each other for the things that went wrong in their marriages.

Family law: Court of appeal lets teen continue hormone therapy

A transgender minor has been given the green light by an appeal court to proceed with hormone therapy. The British Columbia Court of Appeal handed down a solid family law ruling in a recent case in which a B.C. teen wanted to continue with hormone therapy despite the opposition of his father. The child was born female, but identifies as male, though the child's father tried to stop the hormone replacement therapy.

British Columbia's Supreme Court decided it was in the teen's best interests to continue with hormone replacement for gender dysphoria, but the child's father appealed the decision. The court went one step further stating the teen be referred to as male and those who address him should use his male name. The provincial Court of Appeal decided that the teen's wish to continue hormone replacement treatment is valid and that he would no longer need approval from his parents.

Children's issues: Reporting child abuse, neglect in Alberta

It is incumbent upon all individuals to do their parts to protect the welfare of children. One of the most pressing children's issues in Alberta is that of child abuse and even though parents are primarily responsible for the safety and well-being of their children, there may be times when others have to step up and report suspected incidents that may be harming a child. Anyone who suspects a child is being neglected, abused or sexually exploited should report it to a Child Intervention caseworker in Alberta.

Reporting can be made anonymously, but if not, names and personal information of those reporting incidents will not be divulged. If a child trusts an adult enough to tell that adult what is happening, the adult should reassure the child that what's going on is not his or her fault; tell the child he or she is believed and supported; comfort the child and react to what the child is saying without fear, shock, disbelief, anger or judgement. A caseworker will ask the person making a report a number of questions about the child, his or her family and anything pertinent to ascertain whether or not the child is in immediate danger.

How to Prepare for your Initial Consultation with a Family Law Lawyer

If you are thinking about separating from your partner or have already separated, and you are ready to meet with a family law lawyer, there are a few things you can do to prepare for your initial consultation. Preparing for your consultation will allow you to maximize the time you have and get as much out of the meeting as possible. Knowing that you have the necessary information and/or documents may also help you feel more comfortable - meeting with a lawyer can be a stressful and overwhelming experience!

Children's issues: Suggested policies that may end child poverty

Certain policies that have been suggested by anti-poverty organizations may go a long way to ending child poverty in single-parent households in British Columbia. Children not having their needs met is one of the most challenging of children's issues in British Columbia today. Even though just 20% of kids are living in single-parent homes in the province, more than half of them are living at or below the poverty line.

Most of those homes -- 85% in fact -- have a female as head of the household. There are definitive reasons why they and their children are living in poverty: most are on welfare or receive disability payments. And nearly two-thirds of employees who earn a minimum wage in British Columbia are women -- many of whom are the only breadwinners for their children. 

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


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