What to consider when making a parenting plan

What to consider when making a parenting plan

What to consider when making a parenting plan

A parenting agreement offers a framework for how parents will raise their child(ren) after separation or divorce and can often reduce or prevent conflict by establishing clear guidelines to manage expectations. For now, here are some considerations when creating your own parenting plan.

Firstly, the approach to your parenting agreement can be simple and doesn’t have to use fancy legal terms. It should balance having enough details to be useful while remaining flexible enough to be reasonably applied. You must consider how well you are able to work with the other parent when deciding how much detail is required to clarify expectations. After all, these guidelines are intended to prevent or reduce future disputes and a child has greater chances of coping with their parents’ separation or divorce if parents co-operate with each other.

Secondly, put your child’s best interests first and reflect on their age and current/future stages of when designing your agreement as it relates to the following key topics:

1. Living arrangements and Parenting Schedules

Is it in your child’s best interests to live mainly in one home or move between the two? Consider the proximity of both parents’ homes and handling of child’s belongings (e.g. who will purchase 2 sets of items at each home vs. moving items in between). Also address the scenario where a parent moves (e.g. 30 to 60 day advance notice and consent requirements if they’re interested in child moving with them). Details that may seem trivial now should also be pro-actively addressed, regardless of how amicable and co-operative your relationship, to ensure clear guidelines and avoid future resentment or frustration. Consider:

  • Drop-off/pick-up logistics to establish reliable habits from the outset (i.e. time windows, days, location, person responsible). The daily routine of each parent should be practically considered to avoid being overly rigid such as unpredictable working hours.
  • Documenting rules on how to handle changes to schedule due to illness, lateness, or unforeseen events (i.e. advance notice, make-up time?) can alleviate conflict.
  • Rules on communication when the child is with the other parent (i.e. phone, digital, pictures, etc.)
  • Childcare and babysitting arrangements
  • Managing your child’s social life (i.e. who chauffeurs to birthday parties/sleepovers and purchases gifts for child to give, etc.)

2. Vacation/Special Days and Travel

For the child’s sake its often best to decide and agree early on how statutory and religious holidays, summer vacation and other school breaks will be handled to help manage their own expectations. Consider whether child spends certain holidays with one parent every year (e.g. Mother’s or Father’s Day) versus holidays which alternate between households. You may also consider other significant days such as their birthdays or milestone events (e.g. graduation, family weddings).

Travel is another important topic. Does one or both parents desire advance notice and consent for travel (e.g. local and out-of-province) beyond what may be required by law when travelling out of country? Decide who will maintain and store the child’s passport. Each parent should have a copy of their passport number.

3. Health Care

Parenting involves taking care of your child in sickness and in health. To ensure the continued quality of care your child enjoyed before your separation, consider pro-actively addressing topics such as:

  • Who is responsible for holding and maintaining child’s health card? Will it follow the child’s movement between homes?
  • Who takes time off work when child is ill?
  • How decisions and consent will be approached on dental and medical treatment including vaccinations, preventative procedures vs. emergency situations
  • How will each parent notify each other in case of medical emergencies?
  • How will access to medical records be managed or shared?
  • Managing costs of special needs that may appear over time (e.g. orthodontic braces, speech therapy, dietary restrictions, prescription eyewear, counselling)
  • Logistical arrangements for medical or dental check-ups
  • Medical costs including insurance (who secures and maintains policy, submits claims, co-payments)

4. Education

To ensure a seamless transition with your child’s school consider how to approach decisions such as:

  • Choice of school and additional needs like tutoring
  • Logistics (pick-up/drop-off)
  • Access and sharing of school records
  • Attendance of parent-teacher conferences and school events
  • Signing permissions forms for school events versus payment and attendance
  • Absences (illness and other circumstances)

5. Other parenting topics

There are many other key conversations to be had in the parenting world. Why not consider documenting them in your Parenting Plan? A non-exhaustive live includes:

  • Decisions on religious and cultural education and activities including second-language instruction
  • Policy on child’s use of electronic devices and phone since consistency is required from both parents
  • Dietary and nutritional preferences and restrictions
  • Gifts (both to their child and their social circle)
  • Decisions on family pets and whether they move between homes
  • When it’s appropriate to introduce and involve a new partner or sibling to your child
  • Handling visits from extended family

Lastly, your parenting plan may want to contemplate how parents should communicate (frequency, method, type of info required) and a process for reviewing and making changes to the plan if special circumstances arise (e.g. parenting schedule, etc.). Also, many couples use an app to help manage co-parenting schedules such as Our Family Wizard or feel free to click here for a list of some of the more popular co-parenting apps.

Speak with an Edmonton family lawyer today regarding your parenting plan legal needs

If you are considering entering into a parenting agreement - contact us today because our family lawyers can assist you with its development, facilitating agreement between both parents and ensuring its enforceable in Court. Contact usfor a consultation today by calling 587-410-2500.

*Please note the content in this blog offers a general overview and does not constitute legal advice as every case is unique from one another. We encourage you to seek legal advice for answers related to developing a parenting plan suitable to your specific situation.

What are the Alberta Child Support Guidelines?

What are the Alberta Child Support Guidelines?

What are the Alberta Child Support Guidelines?

Children have a legal right to financial support from both parents and a separation or divorce doesn’t change the ongoing legal obligation for either parent to support them. In a divorce or separation in Alberta, both parents are expected to share the cost of raising their child(ren). If parents can’t agree to the amount of child support, a judge will decide in accordance with the established Guidelines.

In Alberta, there are two relevant Guidelines and your situation will dictate which one to use:

  1. Federal Child Support Guidelines (under Canada’s Divorce Act) apply in all divorce cases in Alberta since Alberta is not a “designated province” (i.e. it has not made arrangements with the Government of Canada to use their own guidelines in lieu of federal guidelines if both parents live there).
  2. Alberta Child Support Guidelines (under Alberta’s Family Law Act) are highly aligned with the Federal Child Support Guidelines and apply when the parents were never married to each other or when married parents have separated but neither has applied for a divorce

Both are binding laws that Courts follow to help ensure all of Alberta’s children are treated equally and fairly across the province, regardless of the legal standing of their parents’ relationship. The Guidelines help reduce conflict and tension between parents by making the calculation of child support orders more objective by establishing a base or “table” child support amount for a child under the age of majority (i.e. 18 years in Alberta) via a set of tables.

Alberta’s Child Support Guidelines refer to the federal tables which set out basic child support amounts that depend on the payor’s guideline income, the number of children the payor’s obligated to support in the recipient’s custody and the province the payor resides in.

A key principle of the Alberta Guidelines is that child support be based on a parent’s ability to pay a determined amount based primarily by the most recent income as shown on line 150 of their personal tax return. In certain situations, a different amount may be used such as when the payor’s annual income varies greatly on a yearly basis, if they’re self-employed, or are intentionally unemployed or under-employed, etc. The basic child support amount generally depends on the following parenting arrangements:

  1. Sole custody
    In cases where a child spends more than 60% of the time with one parent over the year, the federal table for the province where the paying parent lives is used to identify the amount of support matching the paying parent’s income and number of children being supported.
  2. Shared or split custody
    In cases where a child spends at least 40% of the time with each parent in a year (shared) or in cases where each parent has sole custody of at least one child (split) – the guidelines confirm payments which account for the income of both parents and the anticipated expenses of the child.

The guidelines do allow for Court discretion when the payor earns more than $150,000 annually and when one parent is suffering undue hardship. To claim undue hardship, the recipient or the payor must first prove to the Judge that they or their children are suffering an undue hardship such as:

  • Parent has children in multiple households owed support;
  • One parent took on responsibility of high debts incurred while together; or
  • One parent lives far away and cannot afford the resulting higher access costs

Secondly, the person requesting undue hardship has to demonstrate to the Court they have a lower standard of living than the other parent.

There is also the possibility for the Court to make an order for the payment of special expenses, also known as section 7 expenses such as:

  • Child care expenses;
  • Medical and dental insurance and expenses not covered by insurance;
  • Extraordinary school and extracurricular expenses; and
  • Post-secondary education expenses

In December 2018, Alberta’s Family Law Act was amended to ensure children 18 years or older are eligible for child support if they’re still under their parents’ charge and unable to withdraw from their parents’ charge or obtain the necessaries of life (e.g. due to illness, disability, full-time student status, etc.)

If you wish to change an existing child support order granted under Alberta’s current or former provincial legislation you must do so under the Family Law Act. The court may consider changing a court order if the personal circumstances of each parent have changed significantly since the time the previous order was made such as:

  • Number of dependent children
  • Long-term change in income due to employment
  • Special or extraordinary section 7 expenses incurred for children
  • Travel/access costs for visits between parties and their children

Speak with an Edmonton family lawyer today regarding your child support needs.

At Verhaeghe Law Office – our Alberta family lawyers have helped numerous clients address their child support needs. We can help you prepare and work towards an expeditious and reasonable payment arrangement. Contact us for a consultation today or by calling 587-410-2500 and speak directly with a member of our legal team today.

Note: This blog offers general information for your convenience and does not constitute legal advice. Family law can be complex and you’re encouraged to seek legal advice to better understand your rights and responsibilities as well as the rights of your children.

How does Alberta Laws view common law unions?

How does Alberta Laws view common law unions?

How does Alberta Laws view common law unions?

At Verhaeghe Law – our Edmonton family lawyers have experience in dealing with the dissolution of common law unions as well as providing legally enforceable agreements for couples who are considered common law. However, it is important to note that in 2003 – Alberta laws have replaced the word “common law” with a newly coined legal term referred to as “adult interdependent relationship”. These relationships now have similar rights to that of married couples. Contact our office today and let us help you with your legal needs regarding your common law relationship/adult interdependent relationship. In the meanwhile, here are some commonly asked legal questions with regards to these types of relationships in Alberta.

1. How is a common law relationship now defined in Alberta?

This term historically referred to describe a couple that lived together but were not legally married. However as of June 2003, this term is no longer used in Alberta in a legal sense and has been replaced with “adult interdependent relationship”.

2. How long do you have to live together to be considered common law in Alberta?

As of recently, the term common law is no longer used to refer to unmarried couples who have been living together for an extended period of time. The term formerly referred to as common-law unions has been replaced with “adult interdependent relationship”. In order for a couple to be considered in an adult interdependent relationship – they must have resided with each other for at least three years or having an existing adult interdependent partner agreement in place. There are other stipulations that apply or may deem an adult interdependent relationship void which is described in more detail below.

3. What is the Adult Interdependent Relationships Act?

This Act cements the fact that the courts view adult interdependent relationships (formerly referred to as common law unions) with legal recognition. However, there are a number of factors that couples must satisfy in order to be considered as an adult interdependent relationship. Call an Edmonton family lawyer for more information on what these factors are.

4. What is an adult interdependent partner agreement?

This is an agreement that is mutually accepted and agreed upon by both parties in an adult interdependent partnership. In order for this document to be legally recognized – we recommend you hire an Alberta based family lawyer to draft it for you as it must be in the form that is provided in the Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement Regulation and include a series of details.

5. Can same-sex partners be adult interdependent partners under the Adult Interdependent Relationship Act?

Yes absolutely. However, there are certain conditions that must be satisfied under the Adult Interdependent Relationships Act in order for same sex partners. For example, some of these stipulations include that the couple must be living together for at least three years or that there must be a child in the relationship (either by birth or adoption) or the couple has entered into an adult interdependent partnership agreement.

6. When is an adult interdependent partner agreement not valid?

Yes there are instances when an adult interdependent relationship may not be considered valid. Especially if the agreement was made under duress, fraud or undue influence at the time the agreement was signed. Additionally, if one of the parties did not have the mental capacity to understand what they were signing into or if the parties were not living together or one of the parties were already married – the agreement is not legally binding. There are other situations as well where the agreement may be deemed invalid. Contact an Edmonton family lawyer for more information on this topic if this situation may pertain to you.

7. Do adult interdependent relationships laws equal to laws for married couples under the Matrimonial Property Act?

The Supreme Court of Canada has said that laws that discriminate against those living in common law relationships as compared to those who are married may be deemed invalid. The legalities surrounding this question are not entirely clear or present at the matter and will require legal interpretation. If this situation may pertain to you – we recommend you contact an Edmonton family lawyer today.

8. If I enter into an adult interdependent relationship can I insure the life of my partner?

Yes this can be done because the Adult Interdependent Relationships Act amended the Insurance Act to allow partners to have their lives insured. Additionally, there are also rules which permit partners to receive specified insurance benefits as well.

Speak with an Edmonton family lawyer today regarding your adult interdependent relationship legal needs

If you are considering entering into an adult interdependent relationship and would like to have legally binding agreements in place – contact us today because our lawyers can assist you with this. Furthermore, if you have additional questions regarding the adult interdependent relationships and require legal advice – a member of our legal team will be happy to speak with you. Contact us for a consultation today by calling 587-410-2500 and speak directly with one of our Edmonton family lawyers today.

*Please note the content in this blog does not constitute legal advice as every case is unique from one another. Child support calculations are best supported by legal advice based on your specific circumstances. This blog offers a general overview and does not constitute legal advice. We encourage you to seek legal advice for answers related to your divorce and/or family law questions.

What are the grounds for divorce in Alberta?

What are the grounds for divorce in Alberta?

What are the grounds for divorce in Alberta?

While the grounds for divorce in Alberta are stipulated by the Divorce Act – there are other statutes that also oversee divorce proceedings procedurally and give guidance on things such as child custody, child support, division of assets, spousal support and more. Every separation or divorce situation is very different from one another and if you are considering filing for divorce – we recommend you speak with an Edmonton divorce lawyer who can help you navigate the legal complexities surrounding divorces in Alberta and ensure that your rights are protected. Hiring a divorce lawyer to oversee your divorce not only protects your interests and legal rights – it can also help expedite the resolution of differences and contested issues surrounding your divorce. It is usually in the best interest of all parties to ensure a quick resolve to your divorce instead of letting it drag out unnecessarily – especially if there are children involved.

Currently there are 3 statues that govern divorces in Alberta. These include:

  1. Federal Divorce Act: Covers divorce proceedings, spousal support, child custody and child support. The Federal Divorce Act ensures divorce proceedings are administered equally across provinces and that the jurisdiction to deal with a petition for divorce is done at the provincial level.
  2. Alberta Family Law Act: Contains core principles of provincial family law. This statute applies to non-divorce situations such as child custody or determining who are the guardians of the child.
  3. Matrimonial Property Act: Oversees the division of assets when couples are divorcing or terminating their relationship.

According to the Divorce Act here are the 3 legally accepted grounds for divorce.

  1. Separation: If you and your spouse have been separated for more than one year (uninterrupted) you can file for divorce. In Alberta, if your marriage is broken down and you are still living under the same roof yet sleeping in separate rooms – the law will view you as separated in these circumstances. In order for the separation to be valid – there must be no sexual relations during the period of separation between the separating couple and essentially both parties must live as independently as possible if they are continuing to live under the same roof. The divorce proceedings can be triggered at anytime after separation and the judge will grant divorce after 12 months of separation has been completed. During the separation period – couples may opt to sign a separation agreement to matters related to custody of children, access or visitation rights of parents, financial support for children/dependant spouse and the division of matrimonial property.
  2. Adultery: If your spouse has committed adultery, you must establish a high probability that adultery has occurred. In the petition for divorce – you must swear that there is no collusion between the two spouses in order to validate that it is in fact the truth. If adultery is denied, examination for discovery and court appearances are other ways to prove adultery and this is something a divorce lawyer can help you with. Adultery cannot be used to fast-track divorces and does present some challenges when citing this as a reason for divorce. We encourage you to speak with a divorce lawyer if you can relate to this situation so you are advised of your legal rights and what to expect during the divorce proceedings.
  3. Cruelty: If your spouse has treated you with intolerable mental or physical cruelty, you may be eligible for divorce. In this type of situation, the courts interpret cruelty as repeated instances of unnecessary physical or emotional pain rendering in impossible continual cohabitation. For the courts to accept cruelty as a cause for divorce – the courts must be convinced that cruelty was of a grave and weighty nature and not due to temperament between the parties or trivial incompatibilities. In a situation like this we encourage you to seek legal counsel to ensure that your best interests and rights are prioritized during divorce proceedings.

Divorces are never easy on couples and can be very stressful, emotionally charged and financially taxing. The emotional and mental effects can be felt by all parties – especially if children are involved, extending stress to them as well. Hiring a divorce lawyer during your divorce proceedings come with many benefits especially if children are involved as they can help secure a child specialist to help them cope with the rigors of divorce.

At Verhaeghe Law Office – our divorce lawyers have helped clients across Alberta with their legal needs surrounding separations, divorce, division of assets, child custody and spousal support issues. We recommend you contact our office today for a consultation with one of our divorce lawyers if you are planning on separating or getting a divorce. Call us today at 587-410-2500. We are located in the Mayfield Business Centre in Edmonton, Alberta.

This blog provides only general information on divorce issues within the province of Alberta. This blog is not intended to act as legal advice. If you have a legal question or require legal assistance, please contact one of our family lawyers in Alberta to get advice on your specific circumstances.

Alberta’s Family Property Act and Common Law Couples

Alberta’s Family Property Act and Common Law Couples

Alberta’s Family Property Act and Common Law Couples

Alberta’s previous family laws regarding separation and divorce was based on the foundation of an archaic legal doctrine recognizing legal marriages as that of one between a man and a woman. In the past, only men and women who were married to each other were allowed to claim rights and obligations as prescribed in provincial and federal divorce statutes when a relationship breaks down permanently.

Luckily, the legal landscape has evolved with the realization and legalization of same sex marriages and common law relationships. The Alberta Matrimonial Property Act - Bill 28, is a recent upgrade and addition to the Act to include “adult interdependent relationships” as equals to traditional marriages in division of property during a divorce procedure or the dissolution of a relationship. One of the numerous objectives that Bill 28 aims to accomplish – is to provide more guidance on property division and the ability to distribute assets more fairly for adults who are currently in adult interdependent relationships and on January 1st 2020 the Matrimonial Property Act will be renamed the Family Property Act.

Alberta laws use the term “adult interdependent relationships” when a couple live together without marriage for over 3 years. It should however be noted that the term common law is still used in other Alberta jurisdictions such as in federal government processes for claiming income tax credits. There are also guidelines on how child and spousal support work in adult interdependent relationships. For example, Alberta’s Family Property Act allows adult interdependent relationship partners to seek support orders when the relationship breaks down. To know your rights and obligations, please consult an experienced divorce lawyer in Alberta. At Verhaeghe Law Office our divorce lawyers are experienced in handling the dissolution of adult interdependent relationships and will always ensure we put your best interests forward. Contact us today for a consultation and speak directly with a member of our legal team.

When an adult interdependent relationship breaks down the courts will review and assess various factors when the couple lived together. Examples include, whether the couple bought, owns or uses property together, had the partner listed as a beneficiary in a will, had a joint bank account, had a written agreement and many more other things. For this reason, we recommend you hire a divorce lawyer to handle your divorce proceedings who can help ensure full disclosure of all this information is included in your proceedings.

It is also important to note that, the Act also has provisions for minors or blood relatives in adult interdependent relationships under certain conditions. To the contrary there are circumstances when a written agreement of an adult interdependent relationship may not be valid. Having a divorce lawyer to represent you will ensure you have legal guidance on all your rights and options in the event there are written agreements in place or not.

Prior to the amendment of the Matrimonial Property Act – the laws were not very conducive to solving the dissolution of relationships for those who were not considered legally married. The change to the Alberta Matrimonial Property Act has made property division and other matters slightly easier to navigate for adult interdependent partners compared to previously complex processes to determine fair property division. One of the benefits of this statutory amendment is that it may potentially reduce legal fees given there are less complexities to resolve now that there is more guidance for adult interdependent relationships.

The end of any relationship – whether it’s a divorce or separation is never easy on couples or their family. Relationship breakdowns can be very stressful, emotionally charged and financially taxing. All parties can feel the mental and emotional stress during this process. Hiring a divorce lawyer during your divorce proceedings come with many benefits. Primarily, hiring a divorce lawyer can ensure that your best interests and rights are put forward so that you can focus on moving on with your life.

At Verhaeghe Law Office – our divorce lawyers have helped clients across Alberta with their legal needs surrounding separations, divorce, division of assets, child custody and spousal support issues. We recommend you contact our office today for a consultation with one of our divorce lawyers if you are planning on separating or getting a divorce. Call us today at 587-410-2500. We are located in the Mayfield Business Centre in Edmonton, Alberta.

This blog provides only general information on divorce issues within the province of Alberta. This blog is not intended to act as legal advice. If you have a legal question or require legal assistance, please contact one of our family lawyers in Alberta to get advice on your specific circumstances.

Alberta’s Rules Surrounding Pension Division During Divorce

Alberta’s Rules Surrounding Pension Division During Divorce

Alberta’s Rules Surrounding Pension Division During Divorce

Unless a pre-existing marriage contracts exist, the division of pensions amongst couples who are about to dissolve their relationship is governed under Alberta’s Matrimonial Property Act. Matrimonial property refers to all property that has been accrued during a marriage and generally this form of property is usually divided equally between spouses during a breakdown except in special circumstances where other factors are also taken into consideration. The division of property also applies to private or public pension plans and their accrued amounts during the tenure of the marriage or common-law relationship.

Why you should hire a divorce lawyer to oversee pension divisions

While the division of property, assets and pension plans are legally governed during the dissolution of relationships – these matters are generally highly contentious topics during legal proceedings and it’s best to have a third party overseeing your legal rights when these types of situations occur.

There are many factors, calculations and provisions that the Courts and lawyers refer to when it comes to property division which are not outlined in this article. Primarily because, each legal situation is unique from one another and in order to get a comprehensive understanding of what your rights are and pension division will look like– it is best to speak with a divorce lawyer so he/she can inform you of your rights taking into account a variety of other factors such as who gets child custody, who is economically and financially more stable, who’s getting what in the divorce, etc.

At Verhaeghe Law – our Edmonton divorce lawyers have assisted many divorcing/separating couples who are embattled in pension division discrepancies or differences. If you can relate to this situation – we recommend you contact our legal team today for a consultation on how our lawyers can help you and your spouse find common ground on the division of your pensions.

Common-law relationships and pension division

In 2018, Bill 28 was recently introduced for the first time on how common-law couples in Alberta must divide property when a dissolution of the relationship occurs. Bill 28 amends the Matrimonial Property Act in Alberta and refers to common-law partners as adult interdependent partners giving common-law partners similar legal obligations and rights that married couples face when applying for divorce. For example, in 2018 in Lubianesky vs Gazdag - a common-law couple were able to divide their employment pensions under the same rules that married couples could. Prior to this there was no caselaw or precedent governing pension division amongst common-law couples when breakdowns occur. If you are involved in a common-law relationship and are about to separate – we recommend you contact a divorce lawyer who practices in Alberta because there are legal situations where your pension can be affected. Each legal situation is unique from one another – so we recommend you hire a lawyer to help you oversee matters in this situation.

Marriage breakdowns and pension division

For married couples who are about to separate and/or divorce – pensions are and have always been considered matrimonial property. If couples are about to separate and/or divorce - a value of each spouses’ pension will be determined. Each spouse or partner’s share is limited to 50% of the value of the benefits that were earned during the period of joint accrual. Pension entitlement is then determined and allocated accordingly. Whether you are in a common-law relationship or a marriage that is about to break down – we encourage you to hire legal counsel to oversee the division of assets including the division of pension during a divorce proceeding. As is the case in most contested divorces – there are arguments that can be made to protect your pension based on the circumstances of your relationship breakdown as well as other factors.

Contact our divorce lawyers if you need help with pension division during divorce

If you are about to divorce, separate or dissolve your relationship with your significant other – we encourage you take measures to protect your rights and speak with a divorce lawyer. At Verhaeghe Law Office – our Edmonton family lawyers have experience overseeing pension division in divorce proceedings or when common-law relationships break down. We can help navigate you through your divorce proceedings and relationship breakdown and work towards an expeditious resolve on issues surrounding your pension division. Contact us for a consultation today by calling 587-410-2500 and speak directly with one of our Edmonton divorce lawyers.

*Please note the content in this blog does not constitute legal advice as every case is unique from one another. Child support calculations are best supported by legal advice based on your specific circumstances. This blog offers a general overview and does not constitute legal advice. We encourage you to seek legal advice for answers related to your divorce and/or family law questions.

Divorce and Property Division in Alberta: What You Need To Know

Divorce and Property Division in Alberta: What You Need To Know

Divorce and Property Division in Alberta: What You Need To Know

In the Province of Alberta – the Matrimonial Property Act (herein referred to as “MPA”) governs the division of assets and property for legally married spouses. The MPA identifies what is considered property as well as what is exempt from distribution of assets upon the dissolution of a marriage. The MPA does not apply to individuals who are in a common-law relationship. If you and your spouse can agree on the division of assets then you can have a lawyer draft up a contract on your behalf. However, if you and your spouse cannot agree on the division of assets, then you can bring an application to the Court of Queen’s Bench for an Order for the distribution of your matrimonial property. Under both circumstances – we recommend you hire a divorce lawyer.

From our experience as divorce lawyers – it’s fairly normal to see divorcing couples disagree on how matrimonial assets get divided. In situations like this – the court will resort to making an order that will govern how the assets will get divided under the auspices of the MPA. Situations such as this can result in strong opinions on how assets get divided (which may not be in your individual favour) and we recommend you hire an Edmonton family lawyer to help oversee your best interests when this does happen.

What is a Matrimonial Asset?

In the Province of Alberta – there are 3 types of assets according to Alberta family law:

  1. Matrimonial Property: including all debts and assets accumulated by either or both spouses throughout the duration of the marriage including anything acquired after the date of separation.
  2. Exempt Property: this refers to assets or debts acquired by one of the spouses prior to entering the marriage or items that are received as gifts, inheritances or settlements from third parties during the marriage. So long as these items can be demonstrated as the property of one person – they may be exempt from division.
  3. Increase in Value of Exempt Property: Any increase in gains of exempt property may be subjected to equitable division during a divorce process. For example, if a piece of antique jeweller was purchased during the marriage for $1,000 – but at the time of divorce was valued at $5,000 – the gains of $4,000 may be subjected to equitable division.

The most important asset which generally gets challenged during divorce proceedings is the matrimonial home. This could be a house, town house, condominium, mobile home, etc. It is important to note here that the Courts do not have jurisdiction over matrimonial assets in provinces outside of Alberta or other countries. Again, this is where hiring a divorce lawyer can help.

Some factors that the Court will consider when deciding how the assets get divided include but are not limited to:

  • When the assets and debts each party accrued occurred (whether it was before or after marriage)
  • If these assets were accrued jointly, individually or under other entities
  • A review of all assets whether they were gifts or pre-marriage assets
  • Consider what is exempt property and what is not
  • If any existing Court Orders exist
  • How long the marriage lasted
  • What each spouse contributed throughout the duration of the marriage
  • Financial situation of both parties
  • Any pre-existing agreements that were made prior to or during marriage (pre-nuptial agreements or marriage contracts, etc.)
  • And more

Some of the factors not considered during the division of matrimonial party include but are not limited to:

  • In most cases (but not all) the Court will not consider whether a spouse was unfaithful or domestically abusive during the marriage
  • Exempt property such as assets acquired by inheritance, owned prior to the marriage, awards or settlements, proceeds from insurance payouts, etc.
  • And more

If you and your spouse or partner are considering separating and/or divorcing, speak with one of our Edmonton divorce lawyers today. Please contact us today for a consultation and discover the Verhaeghe Law Office difference for yourself. The division of matrimonial assets can be very complicating and cause a lot of stress during the divorce process. Our divorce lawyers can meet with you and explain your rights during this process.

We have assisted many clients in Alberta with their property division matters stemming form their divorce – and have received many great reviews from our previous clients which you can read on our testimonials section. Don’t delay - contact us now and let us help navigate you through your divorce proceedings.

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*Please note the content in this blog does not constitute legal advice as every case is unique from one another. We encourage you to seek legal advice for answers related to your divorce and/or family law questions.

Representing Yourself Could Cost You In The Long Run

Thinking About Representing Yourself In A Divorce? It’ll Cost You

Thinking About Representing Yourself In A Divorce? It’ll Cost You

Family litigation is both emotional and can also be quite costly. Those who have the resources to self-represent might want to think twice. The cost can quickly become exorbitant and cause trouble down the road for you. First, to understand all that is involved in a divorce in Alberta, there are three accepted grounds: separation, adultery, cruelty.

In the Divorce Act, separation is defined by you and your spouse living apart for one year. However, you can start the divorce action during the one-year period, but one year needs to elapse to file for divorce. Conversely, divorce can be filed immediately in adultery and cruelty cases.

Steps To Filing For a Divorce

  • Fill out a claim form
  • File and serve form - There’s a $260 fee for filing this form and needs to be served to spouse by mail or by person.
  • Awaiting a response - This step allows your spouse a certain amount of time to respond.
    • Within Alberta - 20 Days
    • In Another Province - One Month
    • Outside Canada - Two Months
  • Filing remaining forms - This step is dependent on your spouse’s response to the claim form. All additional forms need to be filled out and then reviewed by a justice of the court.
  • Receive Divorce Judgment - If your divorce is approved a justice of the court will sign your Divorce judgment form and mail it to you.
  • Wait 31 Days - Once the Divorce Judgment form has been signed your divorce is final, you can request a Certificate of Divorce, and you’ll be able to re-marry

All that looks pretty simple and straightforward, right? Although uncontested divorces are becoming more popular, there are quite a few instances where litigation is necessary, especially when children are involved and in order to protect our client’s assets. This is where having an experienced lawyer can save you money in the long run. By having an advocate with your best interests at heart, you stand a better chance to receive the items you’re asking for in divorce proceedings.

Beyond that, with the matter of property and support behind you there is still the matter of legal costs and who will pay them. What is important to remember is that just because you act for yourself, it doesn’t force the judge to become their advocate. Self-representing will not give you a tactical edge in the courtroom. That’s the job of lawyers. There are not two sets of rules in family law cases for those who have counsel and those who choose to self-represent.

Do yourself a favor and allow a professional with years of experience to help you through a difficult and challenging portion of your life. We understand that this is an emotionally heavy decision not only for your future, but your children’s as well. A common mistake people representing themselves make is believing that the judge will be fair and listen to them and they fail to understand that Court matters are adversarial in nature. Neither the judge, nor opposing counsel are your friend and when you are standing in front of the judge it is often too late to change your mind and it is very hard to undo a mistake that a client has made, which more oft than nought, could have been minimized or prevented in the first place.

There is a very old old old proverb: “A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client”. This proverb is based on the opinion that self-representation in court is likely to end badly.

Save yourself undue stress from divorce filing and proceeding so you can focus on moving forward in your life. For more information about how we can help you through a divorce, please contact Verhaeghe Law Office at 587-410-2500

How Does Adult Interdependent Relationships Differ From Marriage?

What is an Adult Interdependent Relationship?

What is an Adult Interdependent Relationship?

It’s important to note that “spouses” in common law marriages in Alberta are referred to as “adult interdependent partners.” A common law marriage is defined by when a couple has lived together for three or more years or has a child and live together. In Alberta, a formal document called the Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement is completed to indicate that both individuals are each other’s partners.

One of the misunderstandings in regards to common law marriages is that when a breakup occurs, all assets are evenly divvied up. Unless a cohabitation agreement was signed, the division of property would not be split 50/50. In simple terms, property usually stays with the person who paid for it, but if a partner contributed to the other person’s property, they might have rights to it. Common law marriages are not covered under the Matrimonial Property Act, but individuals can still lay claim to the property through other means called the Unjust Enrichment Claim.

Unjust Enrichment Claim

The plaintiff in these claims must prove three steps to show there is unjust enrichment:

  1. A benefit or enrichment on the defendant
  2. The plaintiff suffers a loss or is put into a financial disadvantage
  3. There is no juristic or legal reason to justify the financial gain

It’s the responsibility of the plaintiff to show no juristic reason is recognized. If met, then the obligation falls to the defendant to show that there is a just reason as to why they should retain the benefit. From there, the Court considers both the reasonable expectations of the parties and public considerations. The Court will award monetary damages or constructive trust based on those considerations. A monetary award may be calculated based upon the value received, or if the property were a joint venture, they would award a share of the assets based on the proportionate contribution by the plaintiff.

What About The Children?

This is the most emotional and challenging portion of any breakup; what about the kids? In adult interdependent relationships, the mother is considered the sole guardian of the child if the father does not acknowledge or demonstrate an intention to take on the responsibilities of a guardian. “Parenting time” means more than visiting rights, and only guardians can have parenting time. A guardian has the right to be involved in the supervision, care, and control of the child and any major decision-making regarding the child. Parenting time is resolved by a written agreement or by Court Order.

Spousal Support

An interdependent partner can apply for spousal support, and the child is entitled to financial support. As with marriage laws, both mother and father are expected to financially support the child until they reach age 18. If the child is still in school or dependent in any other way, child support is required.

The laws between marriage and adult interdependent relationships can be confusing. Allow us to help guide you through. For more information, please contact Verhaeghe Law Office at 587-410-2500

What is Bill C-78?

What is Bill C-78?

What is Bill C-78?

Over two million children in Canada live in families with separated or divorced parents. The key law guiding such separation is Canada’s Divorce Act. Bill C-78, passed in February 2019, is the most significant update to Canada’s Divorce Act since it was initially passed in 1985. This legislation modernized the Divorce Act through a variety of objectives with a strong emphasis on protecting children’s well-being in contested divorce proceedings. Many legal professionals consider this new Bill an effort to strengthen Canada’s family justice system as well as championing children’s rights. Below are some of the key objectives that the Bill C-78 aims to facilitate:

1. Promoting children’s best interests:

The Supreme Court of Canada has referred to the best interests of the child as a child’s “positive right to the best possible arrangements in the circumstances.” Bill C-78 re-affirms the best interests of the child is the only consideration in relation to parenting arrangements and establishes a non-exhaustive list of criteria to help retain this exclusive focus. It also introduces a “primary consideration” to the best interests of the child test. This requires courts to consider a child’s physical, emotional and psychological safety, security and well-being as the lens through which all other criteria is evaluated. The test remains flexible enough for parents and courts to tailor parenting arrangements according to the individual child’s needs. The Bill also created a duty for parental responsibilities to be exercised consistent with the child’s best interests. The Bill also addresses the voice of the child by requiring courts to consider a child’s views and preferences based on their age and maturity level. This is consistent with Canada’s obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and can often be addressed through the use of a child specialist engaging in the dispute resolution process. Furthermore, it introduces framework in the event of relocation to help facilitate dispute resolution recognizing it’s one of the most highly litigated topics in family law. It includes clearer notice requirements and burdens of proof based on existing parental arrangements. Additional elements of the Bill include presenting new parenting access terminology to avoid adversarial language (e.g. custody). These are just some of the elements of the new Bill that promotes children’s best interests. We recommend you speak with a divorce lawyer if you feel you need further clarification on this and how this may impact your divorce proceedings with regards to your child custody rights.

2. Establishing measures to assist courts addressing family violence

Domestic violence is a huge concern for family law judges and there is now a clearer set of factors for the courts’ consideration of the impact of family violence as they relate to divorce proceedings. These set of factors are designed to protect children from psychological, emotional and/or physical harm. It also requires courts to ask about any other civil protection, child protection or criminal proceedings that involve the parties to avoid a family court order conflicting with other court order(s). Although negotiation, mediation or collaboration remain the preferred pathways for resolving differences, Bill C-78 offers the courts measures to stop violence and further protecting children’s well-being.

3. Reducing Child Poverty

In recognition of the billions of dollars in unpaid child support payments in Canada, Bill C-78 offers provinces, territories and individuals more tools to ensure child support payments are paid and enforced. This acknowledges the financial toll divorces can have, especially on single-parent families where children must get the financial support they are legally entitled to. These provisions not only aim to reduce child poverty but also limit the negative consequences of income-related disputes during divorce proceedings on the family justice system.

4. Increasing access to justice and more efficient processes

Another major objective of the Bill is to increase access to justice and ensure more efficient legal processes. The Bill places duties on lawyers to advise clients of the availability of family dispute resolution processes such as mediation, collaborative law and alternative dispute resolution options. Making this obligatory for lawyers – it offers more affordable pathways for families to reach agreements faster and in a more hands-on-manner. Certain exceptions apply, for instance if there are concerns about significant power imbalances where dispute resolution may not be viable. The Bill also aims to improve administrative services to support establishing and recalculating child support faster amongst many things.

Bill C-78 also introduced amendments to other pieces of Canadian legislation including the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act (FOAEAA) to enable release of income tax information to courts and provincial child support services to support transparency in the fair and accurate calculation of child support amounts. Additionally, the Bill also introduced amendments to the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act (GAPDA) to improve processes related to garnishing federal salaries or diversion of federal pension benefits as may be required for fulfilling child support obligations so parties that are owed can receive funds more quickly.

Bill C-78 was supported by many family law professionals in its development given it highly reformed the national family justice system. At Verhaeghe Law Office – our Edmonton family lawyers stay current with the latest legal developments, including Bill C-78 and are familiar with how they may or may not impact your divorce proceedings. We are here to support you with your family law needs and help you navigate during difficult times. Contact us and book a consultation today by calling 587-410-2500 and speak directly with one of our Edmonton divorce lawyers.

*Please note the content in this blog does not constitute legal advice as every case is unique from one another. We encourage you to seek legal advice for answers related to your divorce and/or family law questions.