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Vancouver and Edmonton Family Law Blog

New law to govern division of property of common law couples

Couples who have been living together without getting formally married have some considerations when they decide to separate. When it comes to the division of property, Alberta common law couples -- those who have been living together for three or more years or less than that if they have a child together -- will soon be  governed by laws under the Adult Interdependent Relationship Act (AIRA). The law comes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

The AIRA addresses what it means to be in a domestic partnership and considers the factors to determine those relationships. For instance, the AIRA looks at things like how exclusive the relationship is, how living arrangements and household activities are handled, how the individuals present themselves to others, how they look after each other's well-being. It also looks at how a couple shares finances and how they care for their children if they have them. 

Family law: Parental gifts may affect spousal support payments

Parents sometimes like to give their adult children monetary gifts to help them along. But parents in Alberta should know that under family law rules, that money might, in fact, boost a child's spousal payments if he or she is the one making those payments to a former spouse from whom he or she is divorced. Courts look at many variables which could affect spousal and/or child support and financial gifts may be one of those markers.

The courts have made different rulings based on individual cases one of which involved a man who had serious mental health issues and who was making child support payments but also received sizable financial support from his own father. His former wife wanted that money considered in child support payments. A court of appeal ruled that under child support guidelines a payor's income was that which he or she includes on a tax return, and so the court ruled that monetary gifts from the payor's father weren't taxable and  not be factored in child support payment sums.  

Family law: How a business can be on the hook for spousal payment

When a couple divorces, both individuals have a lot to think about. Under family law rules in British Columbia, one spouse usually pays the support to the other based on individual circumstances, but when the payor is also a business owner, he or she has some added considerations. If the company is incorporated, it is generally protected from shareholders' personal responsibilities; however, that is not always the case, especially when the soon-to-be divorced couple are the only shareholders.

In one divorce case in the country, a couple was in exactly this situation. The man was court ordered to make payments on the mortgage of the family home amounting to more than $110,000. But the man said he could not meet the payments. As per the agreement in this instance, it was then ordered to be paid in full in one lump sum. His former wife took action, and she went after the business in which they both had shares to recoup the payment.

Family law: Raising healthy children after divorce

Raising happy, healthy and well-adjusted children is one of the most important jobs a parent has. Family law tools in Alberta can help parents do that, even when parents are separated or divorced. Children adjust to changes in their own ways, but it is helpful when parents are able to help their kids to positively process those changes. 

When parents put the best interests of their children first, it may be easier for them to co-parent even if there is animosity between them. There are many ways parents can help their children to feel safe and secure as they move from a one to a two-home lifestyle. The first of these ways is to tell them that they're loved by both parents and that the separation or divorce is not their fault.

Family law: Millions at stake in British Columbia divorce battle

A spur-of-the-moment marriage that took place in one of the world's most famous gambling capitals is not only on the rocks, but the couple – who married in 2016 – is also embroiled in a nasty court battle. The British Columbia couple's family law case has not only been heard in family court, but has also come before three B.C. Supreme Court judges who will rule on the man's attempt to undo his former wife's lower court victory.

The man, a well-known Chinese billionaire business tycoon, is being sued by his former spouse for bigamy, while he is allegedly forcing her into trade arbitration. The case is being heard in both Canadian and international courts. The man was introduced to the woman in 2015 while she was working as an office administrator and he was on a business trip. After they married, they started a corporation together to invest in Vancouver real estate.

Grounds for divorce in Alberta

Love stories begin in many ways. You may know happily married couples who dated since high school and others who married after a whirlwind romance. Periodically, you may hear of a new study where researchers are trying to find what factors make a marriage last and what are the common reasons for divorce.

Ending a marriage is not always an easy choice. The law considers marriage a solemn institution, which is why it may seem unduly complicated to dissolve the bonds. Nevertheless, in Alberta, you have several options for divorcing your spouse. It is important that you understand the process for divorce and your rights from beginning to end, including those related to any children you and your spouse may have.

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


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