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Vancouver and Edmonton Family Law Blog

Document Disclosure

During the course of your matrimonial file you will be asked by your lawyer to produce a number of documents.  These will include personal documents relating to your finances, including but not limited to bank account statements, credit card statements and other what you could perceive as personal material that you may or may not want your estranged spouse to have access to.  In dealing with support issues, document disclosure with respect to income and expenses becomes relevant.  Often, innocent omissions with respect to the disclosure of documents can be used by the other side's lawyer as fodder to allege that you have failed to disclose or are guilty of blameworthy conduct giving rise to retroactive adjustments and corrections with respect to child or spousal support.  These are all things that you want to avoid like the plague.

Interim Custody and Status Quo

What happens on interim custody applications when there is no existing court order?  In granting an interim order for custody, the court is obliged to consider the status quo.  Preservation of the status quo pending trial is generally considered to be in the best interests of the child unless there is a compelling reason to change the existing custodial situation.  In Leung v. Leung, [1998] B.C.J. No. 2614 (BCCA), Justice McFarlane stated that in interim custody matters, the court should maintain the status quo in the absence of reasons to the contrary. In general, the party seeking to alter a child’s status quo must present evidence to show that the status quo is unsatisfactory and not in the best interests of the child and therefore should be changed.In Prost v. Prost 1990 CanLII 907 (B.C.C.A.), [1990] 30 R.F.L. (3d) 80, the court held that the governing principle is that the status quo is to be preserved and there is to be “minimum change, uprooting, or disruption at the initial or interim stage prior to trial”.  This overarching principle is that the status quo should change only when there is very “cogent evidence” to suggest that the status quo should not be maintained.  The court went on to say that courts should be reluctant to change the status quo when children are happy in a stable and secure setting.  The need of young children to feel secure in every way cannot be overemphasized.The courts have held that the status quo arrangement becomes increasingly more significant in determining what is in the best interests of a child the longer the arrangement has been in place. This is especially true where the status quo has created a stable and secure environment for a child and there is no evidence to suggest that the child is not doing well in that environment.
N. Ahluwalia

Social Media in Family Law or Divorce Actions

Social media – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the like - is not going anywhere.  It is now firmly rooted as an accepted and, for some, indispensible part of our interconnections with others.  The mechanism will evolve (or devolve, depending on your view) and the companies may change, but for the foreseeable future at least, we will continue to post and tweet and poke.In a family law context, a client’s social media trail is generally an anathema.  It is a relatively permanent and immutable record, and when someone is going through the difficulties and confusion of a breakup, that record is rarely one which reflects well.  Posts about an ex, about children or about the situation in general are all potentially compellable as evidence.  Even if the client him or herself is maintaining absolute control over his or her posts, that control does not regulate the posts of friends and well-wishers.In almost every case, the best course is the one which is becoming harder and harder:  abstain from all social media when you are dealing with a family law dispute or divorce.  It is inconvenient, annoying and, really, not fun at all.  But it generally is for the best

What's in a name?

The courts are not waiting for the legislature when it comes to the wording of orders.  Changes proposed in the White Paper on Family Relations Act Reform have not yet been adopted as law; however, in keeping with the report's recommendations, it is becoming more and more common for Judges and Masters to clarify that terms such as "Custody", "Guardianship" and "Access" should be avoided and replaced with "Parenting Time" and "Parental Responsibilities".  This is progress.  The words describing the relationship between parents and children are not merely reflective - they have a role in creating that relationship.  Children have a right to language which not only accurately describes the circumstances, but which supports and fosters a healthy environment.

Post-Secondary Education Costs

There can be a positive obligation on separated or divorced parents to support a child through post-secondary education if that cost is labelled an extraordinary expense pursuant to s.7 of the Federal Child Support Guidelines.  That section states that, Special or extraordinary expenses

Family Law Mediation

Henderson Heinrichs is committed to exploring all options to assist our clients reach successful resolution of their family law issues.   To that end, we are pleased to advise that we have certified Family Law Mediators at our firm who are trained to facilitate out of court settlement. Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process for resolving family law issues, such as custody, access and child support. The mediator is jointly selected and retained by both parties.  Because of the need to maintain mediator neutrality, Henderson Heinrichs' existing litigation clients will be referred to other well regarded mediators.  Prior to engaging in the mediation process both parties are required to sign a mediation agreement whereby they commit to working out the issues without going to Court. Mediation at Henderson Heinrichs takes place in a private, informal setting where the parties actively participate in negotiations with a goal of reaching an agreement.

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


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