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Vancouver and Edmonton Family Law Blog

Divorce in Canada for Foreign Residents

The Act to Amend the Civil Marriage Act was tabled today in Ottawa.  It seeks to adjust the act to allow non-Canadian residents married in Canada to be able to get a divorce in this country.  Until this legislation passes, there are two bars to non-residents getting divorced here.  The first is the residency requirement.  At least one of the two married people must reside for at least one year in the province through which they are applying for the divorce.  The second is that the current state of the law will not allow people to get divorced if their resident state did not acknowledge the marriage as valid to begin with.  This is usually not a major hurdle.  Marriage in Canada is generally accepted as valid throughout the world.  Canada, however, recognizes and authorizes same sex marriages and there are many jurisdictions in the world which neither allow nor recognize those marriages. The newly proposed legislation provides that if people marry in Canada, and if the jurisdiction in which the parties reside does not recognize the marriage, those people can get a divorce in Canada.  The specifics are as follows:

New 2012 Child Support Guideline Tables: Update Your Payments!

As of December 31, 2011, there are new Child Support Guideline Tables for child support payments.    If you are paying child support, you need to update your payment as at January 1, 2012 to bring it in line with the new table amount to avoid the possibility of falling into arrears.  This is the case even with an existing court order or separation agreement that specifies the amount of child support that is payable.Please contact our offices to find out if your support obligation needs to be adjusted to reflect the new table amounts.

Should I pay or should he owe now?

I was recently asked  if a person could be held liable for debts that were taken on by a spouse in his or her name only. Generally speaking, if Bob and Alice are spouses, Bob incurs a debt in his name, and Alice has not co-signed or in some other way promised to the creditor that she will also be responsible for the debt, then the creditor can't demand payment from Alice just because she is married to Bob. What the creditor can do if the creditor isn't getting paid, is get a judgment against Bob and, if Bob still refuses to pay, ultimately go after the assets in Bob's name. Creditors may try to intimidate Alice and tell her they have a claim to the assets in Alice's name too (collection agents often tend to be quite aggressive) but as long as no "triggering event" has happened, they would be bluffing. The triggering events in BC are when:

New Child Support Guideline Tables

The Child Support Guidelines have been due for an update, and the DOJ has obliged.  They have posted new table figures which will be used to make Guideline Child Support calculations from December 31, 2011 onwards.  The adjustments are not even across the board.  In some higher income cases, obligations have been nudged slightly higher.  For some medium income calculations, the payor is actually required to forward less money.   If you have a child maintenance obligation, or if you are receiving child maintenance, it would be a good idea to look at the new tables.

Common Law Property Division Changes Coming

On November 14, 2011, the Provincial government introduced Bill 16, which features a comprehensive revamping of the property law regime in the province.  One significant change is that Property Division, which did not previously apply to “common law” spouses under part 5 of the old Family Relations Act, will now apply “common law” spouses.The bill has not yet been passed, and of course there may be amendments or it may not pass at all.  However, now is the time to take a serious look at your situation if you are in a “common law” relationship.Of particular relevance to those in “common law” relationships is the proposed transitional section 252 of Bill 16.   Section 252 provides that if you have an executed agreement regarding property, or if you have started a court proceeding regarding property division, before the act comes into effect, then the old Family Relations Act will apply to your case.  If you are in a common law spouse with the lion’s share of the property and considering separating, get to a lawyer to discuss your options as soon as possible.  Delaying could be very costly.

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


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