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Vancouver and Edmonton Family Law Blog

Children's issues: What's in a name?

If parents believe they can give their child any name they want, they may be sadly mistaken. Most parents give their children more traditional names, but there are some who may want to give their kids more unique monikers. As far as names go regarding children's issues, the law in British Columbia gives parents a guideline under the Vital Statistics Act when deciding on what to name their kids.

These laws fall under provincial jurisdiction and provinces and territories are responsible for registering children's births and names. In some cases, if the government finds the name to be too unusual, it will ask parents to choose another option. In British Columbia, a court may intervene if it believes a chosen name is not likely to be in the best interests of the child. In other words, if the name appears to be offensive or restricting and could potentially cause the child undue stress, parents may have to pick another name.

Children's issues: School boards want seclusion rooms ban lifted

School boards believe there is a place for seclusion rooms in schools and are calling on the provincial government to reconsider its ban on them. When it comes to children's issues in Alberta, decisions are always made keeping the best interests of a child in mind. School boards in Edmonton and Calgary issued joint statements asking that these rooms -- which are set aside for students who exhibit unsafe behaviours that could cause harm to themselves, other students and staff -- be allowed. The ban, which was put in place by the previous government,  is expected to go into effect at the beginning of this school year.  

School authorities say that although they support inclusive classrooms, seclusion rooms have a purpose in that they allow exceptional cases to be addressed while keeping other students and staff safe. Some parents disagree and have launched suits against school boards who have used them, calling them harmful. In fact, in a recent survey of 400 Alberta families, 80% said these rooms left their children emotionally distressed or traumatized.

Family law: Divorcing couples seeking ways other than court

The road to divorce is rarely an easy one. The rules that govern divorce in British Columbia fall under family law. Most couples want as seamless and as stress-free a divorce as possible, and that is why many couples are choosing alternative methods to come to divorce settlements. Very rarely do couples choose litigation to iron out their differences regarding things like support and division of assets.

Some couples choose to work with mediators to iron out difficult issues on which they can't seem to agree. Mediation is especially helpful when children are involved. A mediator can help a couple to come to an agreement on issues like child custody and parenting, child support, spousal support and asset division. Each spouse can have his or her lawyer involved in the process.

Family law: When a payee doesn't want to work

Spousal support seems to be one of the most contentious issues when it comes to divorce settlements. These issues come under the family law umbrella in Alberta. So, when a spouse is paying support to his or her former partner who he or she believes simply doesn't want to work, the Divorce Act looks at four areas when it comes to support payments: relief of economic hardship arising from marriage breakdown; how much each spouse contributes financially to caring for children over and above child support; disadvantages or advantages coming out of the marriage or the breakdown of the marriage and how each individual has gone about trying to be financially self-sufficient within a reasonable time frame.

When children are not a part of the scenario, any spousal payments are likely to be transitional or until a former spouse becomes financially viable. Support payments are likely to end when that is accomplished. There is an exception to that, however. When spouses had been married for 20 or more years and they're in the 50s or older, it may be that spousal support could be indefinite.

Family law agreements are helpful in many situations

More Alberta couples are recognizing that their relationships have more complexities than just emotions. You may be in love with your partner, but you also purchase property together, share a bank account and accumulate debt. These are serious matters that have little to do with your feelings. While taking these actions may seem to solidify your union, they also make things complicated if the relationship ends.

If you and your partner are considering marriage or cohabitation, the last thing you want to think about is whether you will break up. However, since you do not always have control of the path life takes, it is reasonable to take steps to prepare for that potential and to protect yourself and your partner in case that time comes.

Children's issues: Child gets non-gender-specific health card

Babies born today may be registered at birth with a nonspecific gender. A child born in British Columbia was issued a health card without identifying a specific gender. When it comes to children's issues -- this is the first time this had been done ever anywhere in the world. Experts said it may be paving the way for birth certificates to be issued in the same way.

The parent of the child identifies as nonbinary transgender and wants the child to choose "their" own gender when old enough. The child's family does not use the he or she pronouns when referring to the child, but use the pronoun, their. Eight individuals, including the parent of this child, are petitioning the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal for the right to change their own birth certificates. 

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


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