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Vancouver and Edmonton Family Law Blog

What is a separation?

A separation is when two people decide to end their domestic relationship. It is not a legal term, and it’s not something that is granted by a court of law. Married couples may decide to separate, but not necessarily get a divorce.


Division of property: Being prepared in the event of divorce

There's an old adage that says nothing lasts forever. No British Columbia couple heading down the aisle thinks they will one day be facing divorce, which encompasses having to deal with issues such as the division of property. So, some experts are actually saying couples should plan for a breakup before their marriages actually break down. Failing to plan for unforeseen events could have even more devastating consequences. 

That's what happened to one British Columbia couple whose case ended up before the Supreme Court and ultimately a provincial court of appeal. The couple, who married in 2009, separated in 2016. They started living together a year before they married in a home the man owned. In 2013, the husband put his wife's name on title and the two became joint owners of the home.

Alberta family law: Maintaining contact with your grandchildren

The truth is that the law doesn't assume grandparents have the right to have a relationship with their grandchildren, nor does it assume grandchildren have that same right. The Family Law Act in Alberta does not protect grandparents' rights to see their grandchildren. It does give grandparents options to be able to see their grandchildren when the kids' parents don't want that to happen -- namely, grandparents can apply to the court for a contact order. 

Under the act, grandparents can also apply for guardianship of their grandchildren or permission to care for them -- also known as kinship care. The Alberta Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act also allows grandparents to apply for private guardianship of their grandchildren if their grandchildren are in the care of children's services, or are subject to temporary  or permanent guardianship orders or agreements. In order not to lose sight of their grandchildren, grandparents need to act as quickly as possible by talking with their own children in the event of a divorce or separation and by rebuilding relationships with the grandchildren. 

Children's issues: Children's rights during intervention

There may be instances when issues regarding children prompt intervention. Alberta family law rules always have the best interests of children at heart when it comes to dealing with children's issues. Children have rights and when they're old enough to speak their minds, they have some say in the direction their lives take and in certain situations they will be assigned caseworkers to whom they can speak regarding those rights.

When getting help from Child Intervention Services in Alberta a child will be able to have his or her rights explained in a way the child will understand them. Children also have the right to live with people who care for them, keep them safe and respect them. If children are removed from a home, they have the right to keep their personal things, go to school, talk about their situation with family and friends as long as they're safe, know their own culture and religion and to develop their own identity.

Guardianship after divorce and beyond

If you and your spouse have a child, it may seem obvious that Alberta law considers you parents. This title gives you the rights and responsibilities you may associate with parenting, many of which you may not give a second thought to, such as feeding or disciplining your child according to your standards and beliefs. The law calls these the duties of guardianship

However, if you and your spouse separate or divorce, your role may go through an adjustment, not only practically but also in the eyes of the law. While you will remain a parent to your child, your guardianship responsibilities may change.

Children's issues: Children's rights when parents aren't married

The family dynamic looks very different today than it did decades ago. No longer is a family unit limited to a married man and woman who then have children. Many heterosexual couples are having children before they get married -- if they ever get married. As for children's issues -- what does that mean for the rights of children born out of wedlock? Under family law in British Columbia, as in the rest of the country, those rights the same as those of children whose parents are married.

Regardless of whether the child is born to married or unmarried parents, both parents have to sign the birth registration form in British Columbia unless one or both are incapable of doing so. If the father isn't known or doesn't acknowledge the child as his, the child's mother can sign alone. If the mother signs alone, she can decide the child's given and surnames. When the parents don't agree on the last name, the child's last name will be a combination of the parents' surnames hyphenated or combined in alphabetical order.

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


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