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Vancouver and Edmonton Family Law Blog

Children's issues: Parental selfies help kids get through divorce

Selfies are an invention of the latter part of this decade. These photos posted on a myriad of social media sites can actually be a teaching tool when it comes to certain children's issues surrounding divorce -- like co-parenting. Selfies can show British Columbia residents that having an amicable divorce is, indeed, possible and that co-parenting children positively is also possible.

Statistics show that nearly five million Canadians have separated or divorced over the last two decades. About four in 10 of those couples had young children. Divorce brings with it many adjustments, especially for kids. But when they see their parents making an effort to get along -- which can be accomplished by posting on social media since most children are privy to these sites -- it may help them to get through some emotional times. 

Division of property: Who gets Fido or Fluffy after divorce?

Many people consider their pets to be part of the family. So when Alberta couples get divorced, there could be some nastiness about who gets to keep Fido or Fluffy when it comes time to discuss division of property. In the eyes of the law in Alberta, pets are considered to be property, but for many couples, they're also furry children. The Family Law Act entitles both spouses to equal rights when it pertains to family property, hence to their pets.

Many couples have sorted out the pet dilemma by choosing to have joint ownership of their pets -- whether they be dogs, cats or reptiles. Pets are likely loved by both individuals and it is in everyone's best interests to come to an amicable solution and not let the court decide. There are times, however, when litigation may be necessary.

Family law: When a minor child causes property damage

There are many variables to take into consideration when parents' children cause damage to someone's property. Many rules concerning children in British Columbia are governed by family law, yet they can also be enmeshed with other laws in the province including the Young Offenders Act and the Youth Justice Act. A parent or legal guardian, by law, must supervise a minor child and if that child causes damages, the consequences could be rigid.

If a child does cause damage, the court may consider various things like the age and maturity of the child, whether the child has psychological issues, whether the actions by the child caused a loss of property, whether the parent had someone watching the child if he or she was unable at the time and any other matters relevant to each particular case. A parent has a number of defences he or she might use and discussing them with a lawyer is almost always necessary. Getting answers to legal questions is important in these types of serious situations.

Seeking permanent custody of a child

It is a sad fact that a growing number of parents in British Columbia and across Canada are unable to provide for the basic needs of their children. This may be because of financial circumstances, substance abuse or other issues. Often, it is a temporary situation, and the children may find a safe and stable home elsewhere while their parents seek help for their own issues.

Occasionally, however, the parents are unable to overcome their hardships, and the well-being of the children is in jeopardy. When this happens, someone who is already caring for the children may seek a more permanent form of custody. If you have been the temporary guardian of your grandchildren, a sibling's children or the children of another family member for at least six months, you may feel it is time to investigate a more stable and permanent solution.

Alberta children's issues: Fight over parents' rights and GSAs

Wild Rose Country's premier says parents know what's best for their children. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says his government will repeal Bill 24, which says teachers or principals must not divulge certain information to parents about their children like Gay-Straight Alliances (GSA) and their participation in those activities in schools. This has been one of the more contentious children's issues in the province.

The bill applies to all children in school -- even those in kindergarten. Kenney says his government will leave Bill 10 in place, which speaks to all schools in Alberta setting up a GSA or to hold GSA activities if requested by students. Some parents are concerned that these GSAs advocate things that are not in line with their own familial morals.

Family law: Child support payors find MEP system difficult

Families are having a tough go of it in economically stressful times. Although there are measures in place under family law in Alberta to help, more people are facing additional stress due to job losses which can affect couples and ultimately lead to divorce. As such, many payors of child support are also falling behind on their payments. Alberta has the Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP) in place to collect payments and has the authority to place restrictions on a payor financially.

Those who are part of the MEP system say it's difficult to navigate. Payors who are having problems with their payments say the process is flawed. To have their issues dealt with, they are told they must go back to court which is costly and time-consuming. And some say a judge will just tell them they have to go back to those looking after the MEP to rectify their issues.

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

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