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Vancouver Family Law Blog

What to do with jointly-held real estate after a breakup

Buying a home together is often an act that solidifies a relationship in a special way. You may feel that you are putting down roots or establishing a future with your partner. Legally, however, you are taking on the mutual obligation to pay a mortgage and the shared responsibility to maintain the property. Because you enter these agreements together, you must break them together, too.

When your relationship doesn't work out, you will still have the ownership of the house and all its commitments between you. Making decisions about what to do with the house is often a challenge because both partners must agree. If you and your spouse or partner are separating, it is wise to obtain reliable information about your options and obligations when it comes to the house you own jointly.

Children's issues: Chosen families in the LGBTQ realm

Family means many things to many people these days and gone are the times when most all families consisted of mom, dad, kids, family dog and the station wagon. Even though diversity is acceptable today, some British Columbia residents who are part of the LGBTQ community still don't get the support of their biological family members. Some children's issues may also be affected when kids begin to spend time with chosen family members -- or people who are accepting of diverse lifestyles.

For instance, parents who are in same-sex unions may have close friends who support them and who they consider family. These people usually become close to any children of the couple and may be provided with unconditional acceptance, love and support by these chosen family members. Often these chosen family members come from necessity.

Family law: Do therapists ever suggest divorce?

Many couples who are having marital difficulties try therapy to sort out their issues. There are some tools under family law in Alberta that may help them, but when they have pretty much tried everything including therapy and nothing seems to be working, do therapists ever recommend divorce to end the suffering? Most therapists say they steer clear of giving advice of any kind and let the couple make their own decisions. 

Some therapists have told couples there is nothing more they can do for them when no progress is being made. Some couples might want to continue to communicate to keep their marriages in tact and even the slightest hint from a therapist who doesn't think that is possible may be detrimental. Many therapists suggest if a couple has been to a therapist who advises divorce, they might do well to seek out a different therapist.

You don't have to end your marriage in a court battle

One of the reasons you may be hesitating to follow through with your plan to file for divorce is because you do not want to find yourself battling it out with your future former spouse in an Alberta courtroom. Few people would blame you for wanting to end your marriage in a less adversarial fashion. Fortunately, you can.

Many Alberta couples have turned to mediation as a way to resolve their marital issues without the animosity and acrimony that often happens during a traditional courtroom proceeding. Using this alternative method of dispute resolution gives the parties the chance to retain control over the fate of their families in a more amicable forum. The key is that both of you must voluntarily enter into the process, which means you are willing to compromise and work together to reach a settlement.

Parenting plans a challenging part of family law

British Columbia parents may give little thought to how they manage the many tasks that come with parenting. They may even make last minute decisions for schedule changes during frantic mornings or through texts during the day. Parents who are separated, however, do not always have the luxury of being spontaneous with their plans. In fact, one of the most challenging elements of family law is devising a parenting plan that is both predictable and flexible.

A parenting plan is more than just a schedule of when each parent will have custody of the children. In addition to providing a fair division of parenting time, the plan can determine which parents will make decisions on important matters, such as the practice of religion and educational goals. A complete plan may also address issues like the exchange of belongings, communication between parents and limitations on travel.

Family law: Financial duties of unmarried parents to their kids

Having children, in most cases, is a life-long commitment. In any case, it is a financial commitment until they turn 18 years of age, even when the parents of the children were never married. In Alberta, family law stipulates that parents have the legal obligation to support their children and that includes financially. A parent has a financial duty to his or her child even if that parent doesn't play a role in raising the child or didn't wish to have a child at all.

There are grey areas in some situations such as financially supporting a child that is not related biologically. If the person had a role to play in raising that child, it could turn out that he or she may have to support the child financially. The nonbiological parent in an unmarried, same-sex couple situation may also be ordered to pay child support in some circumstances. 

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


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