An Overview of Section B Benefits in Alberta

An Overview of Section B Benefits in Alberta

Under the Alberta Insurance Act, every automobile insurance contract across the province must include a standard set of accident benefits. A person involved in a car accident may access these benefits to help cover costs associated with medical treatment, disability support, and more. Found in section B of this standard automobile insurance contract, they are referred to as “Section B Benefits.”

If you have questions about Section B Benefits, or are in need of legal advice regarding a particular case, contact our Edmonton Section B Benefits lawyers today and schedule a free consultation. 

Eligibility for Section B Benefits

Any insured person who is a resident of Alberta is eligible for Section B Benefits, whether or not they were at fault for the accident. This is known as “no-fault” benefits. The definition of “insured person” covers more than just the individual who owns the insured vehicle. It can also apply to the spouse or children of the vehicle owner, an occupant of the vehicle at the time the accident occurred, or a pedestrian struck by the insured car. 

You may be eligible for Section B Benefits even if you are uninsured, or if you were driving someone else’s car. To discuss your specific circumstances, schedule a free consultation with our Edmonton Section B Benefits lawyers today. 

What do Section B Benefits Cover?

Section B Benefits can cover medical expenses, expenses associated with death and disability, as well as costs associated with accidents that occur in no-fault jurisdictions outside Alberta. 

The benefits available to a given individual will vary depending on the specific nature and scope of their injuries. In general, Section B Benefits pay up to $50,000 for any medically necessary treatments for injuries that arise within two years of the car accident in question - in the event said treatments are not already covered by Alberta Health Care or other insurance.

Medical Benefits

Examples of medical costs that may be covered by Section B Benefits include:

  • Ambulance services
  • Hospital services
  • Medical supplies
  • Medical equipment
  • Medication
  • Prosthetics
  • Medication
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Physiotherapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Acupuncture (up to $250)
  • Chiropractic care (cup to $750)
  • Massage therapy (up to $250)
  • And more

Disability Benefits

If the injuries caused by the accident have led to you being unable to work, you may be eligible for disability benefits under Section B. These benefits are intended to provide financial support while you recover, and are calculated as a percentage (80%) of your gross weekly earnings. The maximum is $400 a week, for up to two years.

Disability benefits can be accessed even if you have other benefits available to you, such as through employment insurance. In this case, Section B Benefits can “top up” other disability benefits, up to the aforementioned maximum of $400/week, for up to two years.

Contact Our Edmonton Section B Benefits Lawyers Today for a Consultation

Following an injurious accident, many stressors may add up. Physical pain, stress about losing work due to your injuries, debts incurred in the process of your recovery, and more, may contribute to feelings of overwhelm. There is no need to navigate the insurance system alone. Contact our Edmonton Section B Benefits lawyers today to discuss your unique case, and learn what options may be available for you.

** Please be advised, this article is intended as a general overview on a legal subject, and does not constitute legal advice. For legal advice, please consult with a lawyer.

What Is the Difference Between Mediation and Collaborative Divorce?

What Is the Difference Between Mediation and Collaborative Divorce?

Many divorcing couples turn to alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods rather than going to court. Popular forms of ADR include mediation and collaborative divorce. Both tend to be cheaper, faster, less adversarial, more flexible, and more private than a court divorce. While mediation and collaborative divorce are similar, there are some key differences. Our Edmonton family lawyers may be able to help you decide if mediation or collaborative divorce is best for your situation.


Mediation involves bringing in a specially trained neutral third party, often a lawyer, to help divorcing couples resolve their issues outside of court. A family law mediator strives to facilitate an agreement between opposing parties on the primary issues of separation, which will later be submitted in court.  

A mediator guides couples through such common issues as child support, custody, parenting time, spousal support, and division of assets and debts. While mediators may not provide legal advice, they can help couples understand relevant legal consequences. 

Mediation requires both parties to be willing participants. As the process is voluntary, it may also be terminated at any time. For mediation to be most effective, it is beneficial to have a base level of trust and good faith between the divorcing parties, as they will each be relied upon to provide an honest account of their circumstances, including sharing financial statements. 

Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative divorce is similar to mediation because it is a voluntary negotiation process designed to reach a consensus outside the Court system. However, in a collaborative divorce, rather than facilitation by a neutral third party, couples and their respective lawyers meet as a group to negotiate solutions. Additional experts, such as financial advisors, child psychologists, or coaches, are often included in the process. 

At the outset of collaborative divorce proceedings, each party signs an agreement stating they will do their best to reach an equitable settlement and will not go to court. If an agreement cannot be reached, or if one of the parties breaks the agreement and proceeds to court, each party must retain new counsel. 

Mediation vs Collaborative Divorce 

Mediation and collaborative divorce provide similar benefits to participants. As mentioned, both tend to be faster and less expensive than going to court. Other benefits include:

  • As both processes are voluntary, they can be terminated at any time without repercussion other than the time and expense of starting over.  
  • The informal setting, compared to court, is often less stressful and allows for more flexibility in finding solutions that work for each family’s unique circumstances. 
  • A focus on consensus-building rather than on “winners” and “losers” minimizes conflict in family relationships and is good practice for future problem-solving, especially where children are involved. 
  • Both processes are confidential, encouraging both parties to be more open and honest than they might be in a court setting. 

Mediation can be more flexible than collaborative divorce as there are typically fewer participants to accommodate. This can also make the process more efficient and less expensive – especially with fewer professionals to compensate. Collaborative divorce lawyers often belong to a collective group with rules and protocols that can limit what might be possible. 

Collaborative divorce may be more suited to those who prefer the individual guidance of a lawyer looking out for their best interests throughout the negotiation process. This can be especially helpful when a pre-existing power imbalance in a relationship undermines the confidence of one party to advocate for themselves, or if there are complex issues that require expert guidance. 

The primary drawback of collaborative divorce is that if it doesn’t work, you must start over with new counsel, causing additional expenses and delays. Similarly, if your mediator is not a litigator and the process fails, you must do the same. 

Contact Our Edmonton Family Lawyers Today for a Consultation

If you are considering a separation or divorce or need legal assistance on a family law matter, our Edmonton family lawyers would be happy to address your questions and help you understand your options. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and see how our family lawyers may be able to help you.

* Please note that the information in this article is not intended as legal advice but rather as a general overview of family law. If you are seeking legal advice, please consult with a lawyer.

Parenting Tips for Divorced Couples

Parenting Tips for Divorced Couples

Parents often worry about how their children will cope emotionally and psychologically after a divorce. Those from divorced homes may wish to protect their children from the hardships they had to face. Parents from intact families may be concerned about how divorce will affect their child’s social and emotional growth and development. 

While divorce can profoundly impact children's mental health, many will likely adjust well over time with the proper support. Following are some steps parents can take to help their children adapt to divorce. 

If you have any questions or would like to discuss your particular circumstances with a lawyer, contact our Edmonton divorce lawyers today to schedule a consultation.

Breaking Down The Negative Commentaries on Divorce

While some parents may see divorce as a personal failure, with over 40,000 occurring each year, divorce is simply a reality. Many relationships end. Divorce does not make you a bad person or a bad parent. Some psychologists argue that divorce can be healthier for children than continuing to live in a toxic marriage. Reframing the perspective on divorce may help parents reduce the negative self-talk that can undermine their emotional and mental health and affect how effectively they parent. 

Promoting Healthier Dialogue On The Benefits of Divorce

Children often internalize the emotions of the adults around them. Therefore, it is helpful for parents to reflect on how their attitudes, words, and actions set the tone in the home. How parents talk about the divorce, their ex, and their hopes for the future, may affect how their children interpret the situation and cope with the divorce. It benefits children when parents remain positive and avoid speaking negatively about the ex or the divorce. 

Prioritizing the Children’s Best Interests

Changes to the status quo can create uncertainty and unpredictability, especially when emotions are charged during a divorce. It is human nature to attempt to regain a sense of stability by asserting control. This can result in parental power struggles that are stressful for children, especially when parents - often unwittingly – use their children as pawns against each other.  While it is easier said than done, it is helpful to try and set emotions aside when making parenting decisions, without putting children in the middle. 

Maintaining Respect and Civility Towards Each Other

Remaining civil during a divorce can be challenging, especially if the separation is contentious. However, seeing their parents treat each other with respect is in the children’s best interest. Not only can this maintain a more harmonious tone, but it will also model mature adult behaviour for the children to emulate in future relationships. 

Cultivating Effective Communication

Successful co-parenting is based on a foundation of good communication. There will likely be many decisions to make in the coming years, and the more parents and kids can talk openly with each other, the better. Children also need a safe place to express their feelings about the divorce. They may blame themselves for family problems and require reassurance that the divorce is not their fault. 

However, while open communication is healthy, parents must also be wary of burdening their children with adult problems and emotions, or using them as an emotional crutch. 

While divorce is a challenging time for families, it is the parents’ responsibility to prioritize their children’s best interests as they navigate this time of change.

Contact Our Edmonton Family Lawyers Today for a Consultation

Contact us today for more information and to schedule a consultation. Our Edmonton divorce lawyers will be pleased to discuss your specific circumstances and how we may be of assistance to you.

* Please note that the information in this article is not intended as legal advice but rather as a general overview of family law. If you are seeking legal advice, please consult with a lawyer.

Winter Driving Safety Tips to Avoid Car Accidents in Alberta

Winter Driving Safety Tips to Avoid Car Accidents in Alberta

Canadian winter officially lasts four months; however, snow and ice in Alberta can provide challenging road conditions anywhere from September to April. Albertans are familiar with long winters, but accidents happen nonetheless. Alberta Traffic Collision Statistics demonstrate that of 132,072 collisions recorded on Alberta roadways in 2019, slush, snow or ice was involved in 24.7% of fatal crashes and 27.3% of non-fatal injury collisions. 

If you have been injured in a car accident caused by another driver, you may be eligible for financial support in your recovery. Contact our Edmonton personal injury lawyers today to schedule a consultation. 

While the weather is beyond drivers’ control, there are many precautions they can take to stay safe during the Alberta winter, including avoiding road travel during winter storms. If travel is necessary, or if winter conditions are moderate, there are a variety of measures drivers can take to avoid an accident. 

Winterize Your Vehicle

Before winter conditions hit, it is wise for drivers to service their vehicles to prepare for the challenges they may face on the roads. This includes checking the battery, cooling system, brakes, wipers, engine parts and fluids. Switching to winter tires will offer drivers the best performance in slippery conditions. 

Have an Emergency Kit

Every vehicle should have an emergency kit if drivers become stranded or injured. Emergency kits can be customized to each individual or family’s needs. However, most kits should include the following essential items:

  • First aid kit
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Road flares
  • Jumper cables
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Road map and compass
  • Drinking water and non-perishable snacks
  • Extra warm clothing and blankets
  • Toilet paper and hand sanitizer
  • Sand, road salt or non-clumping kitty litter
  • And possibly more

Drive Safely 

It is advisable to check the local forecast before heading out. If possible, test local roads to determine if conditions are favourable. Once drivers are on the road, safe driving techniques may reduce the chance of a car accident. These include:

  • Drive slower than posted speed limits, which are intended for ideal road conditions 
  • Leave at least three times the usual distance between vehicles, in case sudden braking is required 
  • When changing lanes, signal clearly and leave ample time for other drivers to anticipate and respond
  • Accelerate, steer, and brake smoothly and gradually to avoid skids. Avoid braking on curved roads, if possible
  • On snowy roads, try laying new tracks for increased traction
  • Keep headlights on during the day so that following drivers can see vehicle tail lights
  • Gear down for both uphill and downhill travel to reduce the chance of sliding
  • If control of the vehicle is lost, keep braking and steer in the intended direction until control is regained

These are just some safety measures Alberta drivers can take in winter to avoid car accidents. You can find more safe winter driving tips here.

Contact Our Edmonton Personal Injury Lawyers Today for a Consultation

While preparation for winter road conditions can help mitigate the risks of a collision, an accident may still occur. If you have been injured as a result of another driver’s failure to undertake adequate safety measures, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact our Edmonton personal injury lawyers today to address your questions and concerns, and see how we may be of service to you.

* Please note that the information in this article is not intended as legal advice but rather as a general overview of personal injury law. If you are seeking legal advice, please consult with a lawyer.

Can a Married Person Still Be an Adult Interdependent Partner?

Can a Married Person Still Be an Adult Interdependent Partner?

Under Alberta’s Adult Interdependent Relations Act, an adult interdependent relationship (formerly known as a common law relationship) exists when two unmarried people live together and share in each other’s lives as a married couple would for at least three uninterrupted years. Couples can also be considered adult interdependent partners (AIP) if they have a child or have entered into a partner agreement. Upon separation, AIPs have the same rights and obligations as married spouses.

But what happens if one of the partners is still legally married to someone else? A recent Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta decision, Mitchell v. Reykdal, 2021, explored whether a married person could be an AIP to someone other than their spouse. 

Whether you are seeking legal assistance with a divorce or separation, or would like to discuss your questions or concerns, contact our Edmonton family lawyers today to schedule a consultation.

An Overview of Mitchell v. Reykdal

David Reykdal (“David”) led a double life, deceiving two families for almost two decades. One family comprised his wife, Diane, and their three sons. Throughout his marriage to Diane, he also conducted a 17-year relationship with Gwen, who had a daughter from a previous relationship. David could live this double life due to his job as an oil and gas industry worker, which regularly took him away from home for weeks at a time.

When David and Gwen eventually separated, she filed a Statement of Claim seeking partner support and other damages. After consulting with counsel, it was revealed that David was still married and had lied to her about divorcing Diane. Gwen knew that he had gone away to see his sons but did not know that he was returning to the family home.

Despite the deceitful nature, the Court chose not to focus on the morality of the case but rather on whether Gwen could be considered an AIP and, if so, to what level of support she was entitled. It ultimately came down to the Court’s definition of “living with” in section 5 of the Act, which states, “A married person cannot become an adult interdependent partner while living with their spouse.”

At trial, David attempted to characterize Gwen as his mistress. However, the Court found David to be in an interdependent relationship with Gwen, despite his ongoing marriage to Diane, based on factors that included:

  • They were engaged for years and lived together in multiple homes of increasing value in which they shared a bedroom and were routinely intimate. 
  • They shared a vacation home, which they frequently visited as a couple and with friends. 
  • David was home most evenings with Gwen and participated in her extended family events, including acting as a pallbearer at her father’s funeral. He was referred to as Dad and Grandfather by Gwen’s daughter and grandchildren, with whom he cultivated close personal relationships over many years.
  • They shared a joint bank account and other business and financial partnerships.

Upon the finding, the Court determined that Gwen was entitled to AIP support. 

Contact Our Edmonton Family Lawyers Today for a Consultation

If you are considering separation or divorce, our Edmonton family lawyers may be able to help you understand your options. Contact us today for more information and to schedule a consultation.

* Please note that the information in this article is not intended as legal advice but rather as a general overview of family law. If you are seeking legal advice, please consult with a lawyer.

Property Division for Divorcing Couples

Property Division for Divorcing Couples

Canadian law regards marriage as an equal partnership. Regardless of whether a spouse is the primary breadwinner or makes a lower income than their husband or wife, their contribution to the union is considered equal to their partner’s. 

One of the most challenging parts of divorce is determining how to divide property. Unfortunately, divorce can trigger feelings of uncertainty and insecurity. Couples may attempt to regain a sense of control by attaching exaggerated importance to matrimonial assets, often creating emotional battlegrounds, especially over items that hold emotional value. 

Whether you are legally married or in an “adult interdependent relationship,” also known as a common-law relationship, the property division during a divorce proceeding in Alberta is governed by the province’s Family Property Act.

How is Shared Property Divided?

Family property is typically divided into three main categories: 

  • Property that will not be divided
  • Property that may be divided unequally
  • Property that will be divided equally

Property that will not be divided might include items owned before the marriage, a direct gift from a third party, or an award or settlement from an insurance claim not related to property (e.g., accident benefits after a motor vehicle collision, disability benefits, etc.) 

Property might be divided unequally in certain nuanced situations where one spouse believes they should be fairly entitled to a larger share than their partner. For example, if the value of a shared property has increased due to the sustained efforts of one party, they may believe they should be entitled to a larger share. A judge will determine what is fair based on a variety of factors, including:

  • The roles and contributions of the spouse during the relationship
  • The length of the relationship
  • Any pre-existing agreements or prior court orders
  • The income, earning capacity, liabilities, obligations, and resources of the spouse
  • And possibly more

Property that is usually divided equally typically includes significant assets and debts that came to be owned during the marriage. These can include:

  • Money 
  • Real estate, vehicles, furniture, and other personal items or collections of value
  • Investments, insurance policies, and pensions
  • Business interests
  • And possibly more

A couple's shared property can also include debts incurred during the marriage. These might include credit card debts, unpaid loans, mortgages, lines of credit, overdrafts, and other financial obligations. 

Division of property can be particularly challenging .Sometimes, a judge can order the sale or transfer of one spouse’s assets to the other. 

First Steps

The first step in the property division process is to make a detailed list of all shared assets and debts, including what was owned before, during, and after the separation. This information must be shared via a Disclosure Statement. Spouses can also file a Notice to Disclose application if their partner has not provided their requisite information. 

Certain items may need to be valued or appraised if spouses are unsure of or cannot agree on their worth. To do so, they might consider how much a particular item would cost to replace or make a market comparison to assess the value of similar items. Couples and their lawyers may wish to hire expert appraisers to determine the worth of property whose value might change over time, such as business interests or collectible items. 

Protecting Your Property

If you suspect your spouse may not behave reasonably in your divorce proceedings and might sell or try to hide shared property without your knowledge, consider taking steps to protect what’s yours. You may wish to update your passwords, ensure all future bank and credit transactions require both your signature and your spouse’s, and update any beneficiaries to your estate. 

Contact Verhaeghe Family Lawyers Today

If you are considering divorce, our Edmonton divorce lawyers  may be able to help you understand your options. Contact us today for more information and to schedule a consultation.

* Please note that the information in this article is not intended as legal advice but rather as a general overview of family law. If you are seeking legal advice, please consult with a lawyer.

Causes for Breakdown in Marriages in Alberta

Causes for Breakdown in Marriages in Alberta

In accordance with the Divorce Act, in order to be granted a divorce in Alberta, married couples must prove to the courts that their marriage has broken down irreparably. There are three legal reasons, or "grounds," on which Canadians may file for divorce. These are:

  • Separation
  • Adultery
  • Cruelty

If you are considering divorce and are unsure on which grounds you should file, an Alberta divorce lawyer may be able to help you decide what is best for your situation.


Typically, the most straightforward and inexpensive way to obtain a divorce in Canada is to file on the grounds of separation. To be granted a divorce on the grounds of separation, spouses must have lived apart for at least one year. This does not necessarily mean that couples need to reside in different dwellings during the year-long separation. If couples sleep in separate rooms, eat meals separately, maintain different schedules, and can otherwise prove that they have been living apart, their living arrangement might qualify as a legal separation.

In cases where spouses  have reached a mutual agreement regarding key issues related to their divorce, including child custody, child and spousal support, and the distribution of property, assets, and debts, their divorce might be considered “uncontested.” With no disputes to resolve, separated couples can finalize their uncontested divorce without making a court appearance. By working with an Alberta divorce lawyer, separated couples filing for an uncontested divorce may be able to complete the process in an efficient, timely, and inexpensive manner.


To file for divorce on the grounds of adultery, a spouse must provide the court with credible evidence that their partner had sexual relations with someone outside of the relationship. When filing on the grounds of adultery, a spouse can circumvent the one-year separation period and initiate divorce proceedings immediately.

That said, typical courtroom waiting times can often delay divorce proceedings for a year or more. Additionally, going to court to prove adultery can be expensive and emotionally challenging. In many cases, even if infidelity played a role in the marriage breakdown, couples choose to file on the grounds of separation. A spouse who has cheated on their partner cannot file for divorce on the grounds of adultery.

Physical and Mental Cruelty

To file for divorce on the grounds of cruelty, a spouse must provide the court with evidence that their partner has committed at least one act of domestic or family violence and demonstrate how this abuse has caused an irreparable breakdown of the marriage. 

According to the government of Alberta, family and domestic violence is an abuse of power within a family or an intimate relationship. The abuse can jeopardize the physical, emotional, and psychological safety of the abuser’s spouse or other family members.

Similar to filing for divorce on the grounds of adultery, filing on the grounds of cruelty can be expensive. These kinds of divorce proceedings can take years to resolve, and are often emotionally retraumatizing. Since the history of abuse would not necessarily impact the amount of spousal or child support granted to the victims of domestic cruelty, it may not always be in the family’s best interests to file for divorce on these grounds.

Contact Verhaeghe Family Lawyers Today

If you are considering divorce, our Edmonton divorce lawyers may be able to help you understand what options might be available to you. Contact us today for more information and to schedule a consultation.

* Please note that the information in this article is not intended as legal advice but rather as a general overview of family law. If you are seeking legal advice, please consult with a lawyer.

What Does Imputation of Income Mean in Family Law Proceedings in Alberta?

What Does Imputation of Income Mean in Family Law Proceedings in Alberta?

When married couples decide to divorce, the amount of spousal and child support payments they may be required to make are determined in accordance with both the Alberta Child Support Guidelines and Canada's Federal Child Support Guidelines. Calculations for support amounts are based on the child's financial needs, the parenting time the child receives from each parent, and both parents' incomes.

Determining appropriate support amounts based on each spouse's income should be straightforward. However, if a parent chooses not to work or intentionally works less than what would be considered a reasonable amount given their financial circumstances and obligations, the process can become challenging. Complications can also arise if a parent hides assets or knowingly misrepresents their income to try lowering the amount of support payments they will be required to make.

If a judge has reason to believe that a spouse is intentionally unemployed or underemployed, or that their disclosed income is inaccurate or misrepresented, they may choose to impute their income. Imputing income occurs when a judge assigns an income amount that they believe is closer to what the spouse actually earns or should be able to earn in their profession.

Depending on their type of employment, a spouse’s income documentation may not provide a complete representation of what they earn. For example, some people may get paid primarily in cash. Those who are self-employed may have opportunities to hide their own money in their company or claim personal  expenses as business deductions. People whose earnings are determined by commission payments or whose salaries are based on bonus structures may have irregular pay schedules, making it easier to hide certain earnings.

To determine if a parent in Alberta is intentionally unemployed or underemployed, the court requires evidence that the payor has deliberately and intentionally chosen to evade their support obligations and has taken unreasonable steps to avoid them. However, the onus to prove this has occurred falls to the payee. A spouse who suspects their ex is behaving dishonestly must have strong evidence to support their claim. When making these determinations, the judge will typically consider the following.

  • The steps taken by the payor to find work commensurate with their skills and abilities
  • The payor’s previous work history
  • The payor’s current ability to work
  • A reasonable expectation of earnings
  • Market conditions as they relate to the payor's work history, skills, and expertise
  • And possibly more

A judge might impute income for a number of reasons, including:

  • Difficulty proving income because the payor is exempt from paying federal or provincial income taxes
  • The payor lives in a country with income tax rates significantly lower than those in Canada
  • Evidence exists proving the payor has diverted income
  • The payor has not reasonably utilized their property to generate income
  • The payor receives income from dividends, capital gains, or other sources that are taxed at a lower rate than employment 
  • The payor receives business income that is exempt from tax
  • The payor is a beneficiary of a trust and receives (or will receive) income or other benefits from the trust.

Contact Verhaeghe Family Lawyers Today</h2 >

If you would like to learn more about your spousal and child support rights and obligations, Verhaeghe family lawyers may be able to assist you. Contact us today for more information and to schedule a consultation.

* Please note that the information in this article is not intended as legal advice but rather as a general overview of family law. If you are seeking legal advice, please consult with a lawyer.

What is a Narcissistic Ex?

What is a Narcissistic Ex?

When relationships break down, it is common for partners to view their exes through a lens of pain, anger, and disappointment. Someone that once was a trusted partner might suddenly appear selfish, uncaring, and even malicious. Separation and divorce often trigger fears and insecurities, eliciting bad behaviour from both partners. As a result, partners undergoing a breakup or divorce often find themselves locked in contentious struggles with one another, especially in the early stages of separation.

But sometimes, an ex’s bad behaviour is far more extreme than what would typically be considered reasonable. Their selfish personality and lack of concern for others may have even been a factor that led to the breakup. Dealing with narcissists can be frightening, especially in the context of a divorce or separation. Their exaggerated sense of self-importance and inability to consider the perspective of others can alienate and even traumatize a narcissist’s former spouse. Psychologists measure narcissism on a spectrum. While many individual people have self-centred personality traits, their tendencies may not constitute a narcissistic personality disorder.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Narcissistic personality disorders are rare, affecting only an estimated 1% of the population. Pathological narcissism is commonly characterized by the following traits:

  • An excessive need for attention and admiration
  • An inflated sense of self-importance and entitlement
  • An exaggeration of achievements and talents 
  • An expectation to be recognized as superior
  • A lack of empathy for others (e.g., looking down on those they deem inferior)
  • A preoccupation with fantasies of success, power, and perfection
  • An openness to manipulating others to get what they want

A person with a narcissistic personality disorder is typically very sensitive to perceived slights or criticism. They often:

  • Have difficulty regulating negative emotions
  • React with rage or contempt if they feel they are treated without the proper respect
  • Tend to belittle others to make themselves seem superior
  • Secretly struggle with shame and insecurity

Narcissists tend to see things as binary (for example, as either good or bad) without room for nuance.  They often see themselves as victims to justify their own bad behaviour. Narcissists can be manipulative and might use threats to get their way. They may employ gaslighting, causing the people closest to them to question their own beliefs or perceptions.

What Can You Do if Your Ex is a Narcissist

Navigating a breakup with a narcissist can be very challenging, especially if financial complexities or children are involved. Arguing can feel futile, as a narcissist will often twist things to prove they are right, even if their claims are not grounded in fact. 

If you suspect your ex is a narcissist, the best course of action is to establish healthy boundaries and distance yourself emotionally. Seeking the support of a counselor with expertise in narcissistic relationships may help you move on emotionally. In addition, understanding your legal rights may help you take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your family from a narcissistic ex.

Contact Verhaeghe Family Lawyers Today

If you are considering separation or divorce, our Edmonton family lawyers may be able to help you understand your options. Contact us today for more information and to schedule a consultation.

* Please note that the information in this article is not intended as legal advice but rather as a general overview of family law. If you are seeking legal advice, please consult with a lawyer.

Joint Tenancy and Tenancy in Common in Alberta The Bishop Case

Joint Tenancy and Tenancy in Common in Alberta The Bishop Case

When a person dies, their estate is typically distributed amongst their beneficiaries. This may be their spouse, children, grandchildren, or other individuals named in the deceased’s last will and testament. If the deceased co-owned property in a joint tenancy with another person, then the surviving title-holder usually gains full ownership of said property through the automatic right of survivorship.

However, there are some exceptions. In a 2022 case involving a contested division of property, a beneficiary successfully argued that her deceased father’s joint tenancy with his ex-wife had been severed, and therefore the ex-wife would not assume the automatic right of survivorship.

This case illustrates an important consideration for divorcing couples who co-own property, as it is possible for a court to rule a joint tenancy severed. To learn more on how to navigate division of property through a separation or divorce, or what to do when the division of estate assets is contested, contact our Edmonton estate administration lawyers for a consultation.

Joint Tenancy vs Tenancy in Common

Both joint tenancy and tenancy in common are terms referring to co-ownership of an estate. In a joint tenancy, the co-owners share undivided possession of the property, commencing simultaneously and through the same conveyance, and with a shared interest. Joint tenancy is likewise characterized by the right of survivorship, meaning that if one joint tenant dies, the other(s) automatically assume ownership of the property.

A tenancy in common, meanwhile, has only the unity of possession, and no right of survivorship. A tenant in common may make decisions regarding their share of the property independent of their fellow owners. They may, for instance, bequeath their interest to beneficiaries through a will.

A joint tenancy may severed and made into a tenancy in common in one of three ways:

  1. Mutual agreement between joint tenants;
  2. The sale of one or more tenants’ interest in the property; or
  3. Providing evidence that the co-owners have treated the property as a tenancy in common.

The distinction between joint tenancy and tenancy in common lies at the centre of the aforementioned 2022 case.

The Bishop Case

David Bishop was married to Theresa Louise May for many years, then divorced in 2013 following a long separation. As joint tenants, they co-owned a house in Calgary. Bishop died intestate, meaning he did not have a will, leaving behind three children from a previous relationship as his beneficiaries. 

Following Bishop’s death, May sold the property, intending to receive the entirety of the proceeds as the surviving joint tenant. Bishop’s daughter, Stephanie Drag, contested this. While May was indeed a joint tenant on the property title, she had not lived at the property in many years, and Bishop had assumed the vast majority of costs associated with its upkeep. Additionally, there was corroborated evidence that Bishop and May had a verbal agreement that she would receive $100,000 from the property’s proceeds after his death. This constituted just over one-third of the total proceeds amount.

Having weighed the considerations presented before the court, Honourable Mr. Justice O.P. Malik ruled that the joint tenancy had been severed, and should be treated as a tenancy in common. May would get her agreed-upon share, and the remainder would go to the beneficiaries of the estate.

Considerations in Divorce Cases

The Bishop case illuminates a key consideration for couples in questions concerning property, estates, probates and wills. Whether entering into a marriage or common-law relationship, or navigating a separation or divorce, it is important to specify how property will be divided after the death of one of the co-owners.

As in the Bishop case, this consideration can be especially nuanced when there is involvement of beneficiaries such as children from another relationship. Clear, informed documentation, including the preparation of a last will and testament, can help mitigate confusion and conflict following a property-owner’s death.

Contact Our Edmonton Estate Administration Lawyers Today for a Consultation

It is unfortunate that the process of estate administration is not always smooth, particularly where a divorce or separation is involved. Our Edmonton estate administration lawyers can discuss the specifics of your circumstances, and may be able to help you navigate a range of property division questions, from divorce considerations to estate litigation, and more. Contact us today to learn how we may be of service to you.

** Please note, this article is intended as a general overview on a legal subject, and does not constitute legal advice. For legal advice, please consult with a lawyer.