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Vancouver and Edmonton Family Law Blog

What is the impact of the new Family Law Act on a Separation Agreement under the Family Relations Act?

In February of 2006, the Ministry of Attorney General began a review the Family Relations Act ("FRA") with an aim to modernize family law in British Columbia. After years of consultation and review, the Family Law Act ("FLA") was passed by the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia on November 23, 2011, and received royal assent the following day. While the legislation officially passed, the FLA has not yet come into force. The government has estimated that the FLA will come into force sometime in 2013. When it comes into force, the FLA will replace the FRA as the provincial law in British Columbia that applies to family claims.  As of today's date, and with only small exceptions, the FRA and the federal Divorce Act (Canada) (hereafter referred to as the "Divorce Act") govern family law matters in British Columbia. While it is anticipated that the FLA will bring positive changes to family law in British Columbia, it begs the question "how will the courts interpret separation agreements created under the FRA when the new FLA comes into force?" In this post I will explore the answer to this question and provide a rough summary of the potential impacts that the FLA will have on FRA separation agreements. This post is not intended to be a legal document, but rather an educational overview of this topic.

Sealing a Family File

Just a quick note:  As at June 1, 2012, there will be new regulations in place to deal with sealing court files in Family law cases.  If you want to ensure that some or all of the contents of a family law case are not publicly accessible, it will mean a court application, even if both parties agree.  The Practice Direction of Chief Justice Bauman can be found here

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:

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

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