What you should know about changes to the Divorce Act

What you should know about changes to the Divorce Act

What you should know about changes to the Divorce Act

The Divorce Act has recently undergone major changes, which came into effect March 1, 2021. The Divorce Act applies to individuals across Canada who are married and who decide to divorce. In addition to governing the process related to obtaining a divorce, the Act also covers:

  • child support
  • spousal support and
  • child custody or parenting issues.

The changes to the Act mainly focus on the section relating to child "custody," a term that is no longer in use due to the recent changes.

Our team of divorce lawyers can help you determine if and how these extensive changes to the law will affect your divorce.

Changes to Terminology

One of the major changes to the law is the use of different terminology relating to the care of children. The term "decision-making responsibility" replaces the term "custody." Rather than an order for sole or joint custody of a child, you may receive an order for sole, joint or divided decision-making responsibility related to a child.

The term "access" is replaced by the term "parenting time." Parenting time is the time when a child is in the care of a parent. The parent does not need to be physically present the entire time. For example, time that your children spend at school or day care can still fall within your parenting time.

If these terms are already familiar to you, that may be because several provinces have already incorporated similar terms into the provincial legislation governing parenting orders. Alberta, for example, already uses the term "parenting order" rather than "access order."

The term "contact" is introduced and is used in reference to people other than parents who seek an order for time with a child. It is essentially parenting time for non-parents.

The term "habitual residence" is introduced. The habitual residence of the child is used to determine the appropriate jurisdiction for an application in relation to the child.

Presumptions relating to orders for parenting time and decision-making responsibility

A previous presumption in favour of granting custody to the parent who was most likely to promote a relationship between the child and the other parent (known as the friendly-parent rule) has been removed. There is no longer any presumption in favour of any particular order with respect to decision-making responsibility.

Similarly, a previous presumption that parenting time should be maximized with each parent has been removed. There is no longer a presumption that parenting time should be divided between the parents as close to equally as possible.

The best interests of the child in question will be used to determine all orders related to decision-making responsibility and parenting time.

New provisions dealing with family violence

Extensive changes have been made to the Divorce Act to ensure that family violence concerns are taken into account as necessary. The legislation now contains a detailed definition of family violence and requires a court to consider any family violence and its impact on the child during a determination of the best interests of the child.

Other additions to the legislation relating to family violence deal with:

  • supervised parenting time or supervised transfers
  • orders prohibiting the removal of a child from a specified geographical area without the written consent of the other parent or a court order
  • exceptions to notice provisions (regarding change of residence or relocation) for cases involving a risk of family violence
  • coordination between criminal, child protection and family cases.

Changes relating to relocation applications

Those who are hoping to move to another town, province or country with their child will have to navigate a new approach to relocation applications. Significant changes have been made to both the procedures that must be followed by an applicant and to the methods that judges will use to make their decision.

There are now stringent notice requirements that apply to parents with an existing order for custody, access, parenting time or decision-making responsibility that was made under the Divorce Act. The parent who wishes to relocate must provide notice at least 60 days before the planned relocation and the other parent, if they object to the relocation, must respond within 30 days.

The list of criteria that a judge may consider when determining the best interests of the child in relation to a relocation application has been extended. There are seven new criteria, including the reason for the proposed move.

The recent changes have introduced different burdens of proof that may apply in different circumstances. In circumstances where:

  • the applicants have an existing parenting order under the Divorce Act; and
  • the current parenting arrangement reflects that parenting order;

then the following burdens of proof will be placed on the parents during the relocation application. If the parents have substantially equal parenting time, then the parent who wishes to relocate must prove that it is in the best interests of the child to do so. If the parent who wishes to relocate has the vast majority of parenting time, then the parent who is opposing the application must prove that the relocation is not in the best interest of the child.

This will leave many circumstances in which neither parent has the burden of proof, which means that each parent will be required to show the court why their proposed living arrangements are in the child's best interests.

The court is no longer permitted to consider whether, if the court does not grant the order, the parent will relocate without the child or choose not to relocate.

Other additions and changes

Many other changes have been incorporated in the legislation to increase the efficiency of the law and make the law easier and more affordable for individuals to access. These changes include:

  • encouraging the use of out-of-court dispute resolution processes including mediation services and collaborative law
  • authorizing the government to designate a provincial child support service to calculate child support
  • simplifying procedures for obtaining, varying or enforcing a support order when the parents live in different provinces or countries (interjurisdictional support orders)
  • improving the mechanism used to recalculate child support
  • improving access to the law in both official languages
  • incorporating two Hague Family Law Conventions (relevant to resolving family law issues when one parent lives in another country)
  • improving access to income information for use in support applications.

Many of the recent changes to the Divorce Act are only relevant in very specific circumstances. If you have concerns about how any of the changes to the Divorce Act will affect your divorce or any future applications affecting your children, contact one of our divorce and family law lawyers today.

What Happens If My Parent – Who Is Unmarried And In A Long-Term Relationship – Dies Without A Will?

What Happens If My Parent – Who Is Unmarried And In A Long-Term Relationship – Dies Without A Will?

What Happens If My Parent – Who Is Unmarried And In A Long-Term Relationship – Dies Without A Will?

A will is a document that allows the writer to dictate how they want their property to be distributed after they die. If a person dies without writing a will, then they are said to die intestate and their assets will be distributed according to Alberta's Wills and Succession Act.

The Wills and Succession Act does not consider the specific circumstances of the intestate or their family. As a result, any distribution of assets under the Act may be unfair. Our Alberta wills and estates lawyer can help you understand what happens if your parent - who is unmarried and in a long-term relationship - dies without a will.

Practical Considerations Of Dying Intestate

If, at the time a person dies intestate, they have both a common-law partner and adult children from a previous relationship, chaos can ensue. Without a personal representative named in a will, it will be unclear to the surviving family members who is supposed to make decisions regarding the funeral and how those expenses should be paid for.

It will also be necessary to ask the court to name a personal representative, which means added expenses for the family at a time that is already stressful.

Distribution Of Property Under The Act

Your parent may legally have an "adult interdependent partner", as they are called in the Act, if:

  • they have lived with another person in a common-law type relationship for at least three years, or
  • they have lived with another person in a common-law type relationship and have a child together, or
  • they have entered into an agreement that defines their relationship as that of adult interdependent partners.

If your parent dies intestate, with both an adult interdependent partner and children from a previous relationship, then your parent's estate will likely be divided between your parent's partner and your parent's children. Under the Act, the adult interdependent partner receives the first 50% of the value of the estate or a minimum amount set by the regulations, whichever is greater. The children split the remainder of the estate equally. If any of the parent's children have already died leaving grandchildren, the grandchildren receive their parent's portion of the estate.

Other considerations

If a parent dies intestate and the results of distribution under the Act leave a dependent family member (either an adult interdependent partner or a child under the age of 18) without adequate support, the court may order a change to the distribution of property to account for that person's need for support.

If your parent is the owner of the house that they live in with their partner when they die, the partner is entitled to stay in the family home for 90 days after the death.

The Benefits Of Having A Will

Intestate distribution of property under the Wills and Succession Act does not allow for any customization to particular circumstances and the results will often leave the family members of the deceased unsatisfied and in financial need.

If your parent - who is unmarried and in a long-term relationship - dies without a will, things could get complicated. Our Alberta wills lawyers can help prevent any unnecessary difficulties. Talk to us today. One of our Edmonton wills and estates lawyer will be pleased to assist you.

Disclaimer: Please note this article is only intended to act as a general overview on a legal topic and does not represent legal advice. For specific legal advice please consult with our wills and estates lawyers.

What Are The Pros and Cons Of a Living Trust

What Are The Pros and Cons Of a Living Trust

What Are The Pros and Cons Of a Living Trust

A trust is a legal mechanism by which one person (the settlor) gives money or property to a trustee, who manages it and eventually distributes it to its intended recipient or recipients (the beneficiaries). A testamentary trust is a trust that is established in a will and comes into effect when the settlor dies. A living trust, also known as an inter vivos trust, can be set up anytime during the settlor's life.

There are many different types of living trust and each type may have its own specific pros and cons. Our wills and estates lawyers can help you to explore the pros and cons of a living trust and determine what type of trust might benefit you in your estate planning.

The Benefits Of A Living Trust

Both testamentary trusts and living trusts are most commonly used as estate planning tools and can have tax deferral benefits for the settlor. Some other common benefits of a trust include:

  • assets can be protected from legal battles or creditors of the beneficiary
  • the settlor can maintain more control over what is done with an asset after they have passed it on than they would if they transferred it by way of a will or by simply giving the asset to the beneficiary
  • the beneficiaries may save money on probate and executor fees after the death of the settlor.

Living trusts are often set up with a very specific purpose in mind. For example, parents or grandparents might establish a trust for an adult child with a disability, which might enable the child to continue receiving benefits from the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped program, or other government benefits.

Disadvantages Of A Living Trust

There are costs involved with establishing a living trust. Trusts are more complicated to prepare than wills and generally require the help of a lawyer. It is also necessary to transfer the assets to the trust. Depending on the number and type of assets involved, this might be quite expensive.

A living trust also has ongoing costs to ensure compliance with laws. For example, the trustee will need to file a trust tax return annually on behalf of the trust. The trust will also usually pay the trustee for ongoing services involved in managing the trust.

The assets in a living trust are not readily accessible to the beneficiaries. While this might be seen as an advantage to the settlor, it can also cause inconvenience and difficulties for the beneficiaries. For example, it may be significantly more difficult for a beneficiary to obtain a loan using trust assets as collateral. When things become more difficult, they also become more expensive, especially if they require a significant time investment from the trustee or if the beneficiary needs to hire a lawyer.

Speak To Our Legal Team Today

Our Alberta wills and estates lawyers can explain to you in detail what are the pros and cons of a living trust and focus on the pros and cons of a particular living trust in your particular circumstances. Give us a call today to find out what you need to know about this potentially helpful estate planning tool.

*Disclaimer: Please note the advice contained in this article is not intended to act as legal advice and instead intended to act as a general overview on a legal topic. For specific legal advice please consult with a lawyer.

The Differences Between an Executor vs an Administrator in a Will

The Differences Between an Executor vs an Administrator in a Will

The Differences Between an Executor vs an Administrator in a Will

The terms executor of a will or estate and administrator of a will or estate are often used interchangeably. In Alberta, when a person writes a will, they are required to name a personal representative to be in charge of paying the deceased's taxes and debts and the distribution of the estate. This named personal representative is also known as an executor because historically (and still today, in other jurisdictions) that was the term used in wills and estate legislation and it continues to be the term that most people know.

An administrator, on the other hand, is a person appointed by the court to administer the estate of the deceased under the Estate Administration Act. This happens when:

  • the executor or personal representative named in a will is unable or unwilling to act
  • the deceased failed to name an executor in the will
  • the deceased failed to deal with their entire estate in the will, or
  • the deceased died without a will (intestate).

Our Edmonton area wills and estates lawyers can clear up any confusion regarding the differences between an executor vs an administrator in a will and what those differences might mean for your situation.

Who Will The Court Name As Administrator?

In a situation where the deceased left a will, but the will either failed to name an executor or failed to deal with the entire estate, the estate will need to apply for a grant of administration with will annexed. The grant is a court order that appoints an administrator to manage and distribute the estate according to the will.

The court is required to name the person with the highest priority on the list of eligible candidates set out in the Estate Administration Act. For example, the top three options are:

  • the personal representative named in the will (if there is one, and if they are willing to act)
  • the personal representative named by the person authorized in the will to name a personal representative (if there is one), or
  • a residual beneficiary.

In a situation where the deceased left no will, the estate must apply for a grant of administration, which is a court order that appoints an administrator to distribute the estate according to the rules of intestacy set out in the Wills and Succession Act.

In this case, the top three options for administrator are based on the most likely beneficiaries set out in the Wills and Succession Act:

  • the surviving spouse or common law partner of the deceased
  • a child of the deceased, or
  • a grandchild of the deceased.

Typically, the person with the highest priority on the list prepares the application and is appointed the administrator, but they can also appoint someone else if they do not want to act as the administrator.

What Are The Duties Of An Executor Vs An Administrator?

Once an executor agrees to act or an administrator is named by the court, their duties are similar. They both owe a fiduciary duty to the estate and its beneficiaries. They both are responsible for managing and distributing the estate. However, there are technical differences between an executor vs an administrator in a will that may or may not be relevant in your circumstances. We recommend you speak with a lawyer to get more sound legal advice on this matter as every situation is different.

Book A Consultation with Verhaeghe Law Office Today

If you or a loved one need legal assistance from an estate administration lawyer book a consultation with us. Contact our Edmonton estate administration lawyers today for more information. A member of our legal team will be pleased to speak with you.

Disclaimer: Please note the content prescribed here is intended to act as a general overview on a legal topic and does not constitute as legal advice. For specific legal advice please consult with an estate administration lawyer on this subject matter.

10 Questions to Consider When Drafting Your Will

10 Questions To Consider When Drafting Your Will

10 Questions To Consider When Drafting Your Will

Everyone can benefit from having a will, but the process of writing one can be daunting. You can organize your thoughts on the subject by answering the following 10 questions to consider when drafting your will.

Who Will Prepare Your Will?

Every person is unique and their will should reflect that fact. While it is possible to prepare a will on your own, having help from a lawyer will ensure that your will reflects your particular needs and circumstances.

What Is Your Marital Status?

Your will must indicate whether you are married, single or in a common law relationship. It is important to write a new will, or at least have your will reviewed by a lawyer, whenever your marital status changes. If you don't, you risk all or certain parts of your will being declared void.

Who Will Care For Your Children If You Die Before They Reach Their Majority?

Typically, you will name the other parent of your child as their appointed guardian in your will. However, it is a good idea to have a backup in case that person dies before you. You should seek the agreement of any person you intend to name as a guardian for minor children before you write your will.

Do You Need A Testamentary Trust?

A testamentary trust is a legal mechanism by which some or all of your estate is transferred to a trustee, who manages it until it can be distributed to your beneficiaries. This is an effective way to ensure that your estate is protected and managed until your minor children are old enough to receive their inheritance, but there are lots of other reasons a testamentary trust might be necessary.

Who Will Be The Executor Of Your Estate?

Your executor, or personal representative, has many responsibilities, including planning your funeral and probating your will. It is a good idea to ask your chosen executor if they will be willing to act before naming them in your will.

What Powers Will Your Executor Have?

You can set limits on the specific powers that your executor will have with respect to managing and distributing your property. What powers you grant your executor will depend heavily on what assets and debts form part of your estate and how you want them divided.

What Property, Assets And Debt Do You Have?

Preparing a summary of your current assets and debts will enable your lawyer to advise you appropriately about estate planning tools, including tax considerations.

What Responsibilities Do You Have To Ex-Spouses Or Children?

If you pay spousal support or child support, you need to account for those in your will. Your responsibilities don't end when you die.

How Do You Want Your Estate Distributed?

Think about who you would like to receive the bulk of your estate and what you would like to happen if that person dies before you. Also think about any specific gifts that you want to make. These can consist of personal property that you want to go to a specific person or charitable donations.

Who Will Witness The Signing Of Your Will?

Two people need to witness you sign the will. The witnesses can be anyone who is at least 18 years of age but they cannot be a beneficiary of your will. It is fine if your executor witnesses your will as long as your executor is not also a beneficiary.

These 10 questions to consider when drafting your will can help you prepare so that you have all the information your lawyer will need before you contact our Alberta wills and estates lawyers. Having a will protects your family from uncertainty and unnecessary expenses, so call today!

Contact Verhaeghe Law Office Today For Legal Assistance With Your Will

Our Edmonton wills and estates lawyer can assist you with your wills and estates needs. Contact our law office today to book a consultation with one of our wills and estates lawyers. Our legal team would be pleased to assist you.

Disclaimer: Please note the content prescribed in this article is intended to act as a general overview on a legal topic and does not represent legal advice. For specific legal advice on your matter please consult with a lawyer.

What assets are subject to probate in Alberta?

What assets are subject to probate in Alberta?

What assets are subject to probate in Alberta?

Probate is the name for the process by which the Court of Queen's Bench verifies the validity of a will and the identity of the personal representative. The personal representative named in the will, also known as the executor, has the authority to deal with the assets of the estate without a grant of probate. Probate is only necessary when the transfer of assets to the executor or to the beneficiaries requires the involvement of the Land Title Office or a financial institution.

Our Alberta wills and estates lawyers can help you to determine what assets are subject to probate in Alberta. Contact us for a consultation today.

Real property in Alberta

Alberta's Land Title Office requires proof that a will is valid in the form of probate before it will transfer the property of the deceased. Any property that the deceased owned as a sole owner or as a tenant in common is subject to probate.

If the deceased owned property as a joint tenant, then the joint tenant has a right of survivorship. That means that the property does not form part of the estate of the deceased. It passes directly to the surviving owner. The surviving owner only needs to complete the necessary forms and file them with the Land Title Office for the property transfer to be registered.

Real property located outside of Alberta will be subject to the laws of that province or country. Contact one of our wills and estate lawyers for assistance.

Do financial assets require probate?

Some financial assets, such as RRSPs, TFSAs and insurance policies, have named beneficiaries. These assets do not form part of the estate of the deceased. The financial institution in charge of the asset will transfer the asset directly to the named beneficiary once they receive the proper paperwork, which generally includes a copy of the death certificate.

Financial assets can also be owned in joint tenancy, which means that the asset passes directly to the surviving owner. The financial institution may require the surviving owner to provide a death certificate or other documentation prior to transferring ownership, but probate should not be required as this asset does not form part of the estate.

There are still many financial assets that will require probate. If you are acting as a personal representative for an estate, you can ask the relevant financial institutions if they will require the will to be probated. The more complex the estate, the more likely it is that probate will be necessary.

How do you have a will probated?

The executor of the estate applies to the court for probate of the will. An application for probate must include:

  • the original version of the will
  • a detailed list of all the assets and debts of the deceased
  • identities of the beneficiaries (names, birth dates and addresses)
  • date and location of the birth and death of the deceased.

Contact our Alberta wills and estates lawyer today for a legal consultation

Other information may be needed in particular circumstances. Our wills and estates professionals can help you to determine what assets are subject to probate in Alberta and can prepare an application for you if probate is necessary. Contact us today to arrange for a personal consultation regarding all your wills and estates legal matters.

Disclaimer: Please note the content in this article is not intended to act as legal advice. For more specific legal advice please consult with a family lawyer.

How long does an executor have to settle an estate in Alberta?

How long does an executor have to settle an estate in Alberta?

How long does an executor have to settle an estate in Alberta?

The executor, also known as the personal representative, is the person responsible for carrying out the wishes of the deceased as set out in the will. In Alberta, the executor’s responsibilities are set out in the Estate Administration Act. While the legislation does not set a deadline by which an estate must be settled, it does require an executor to “distribute the estate as soon as practicable.”

Estates vary greatly in complexity and in the number of tasks that an executor will need to accomplish before the estate will be considered settled, therefore it is impossible for the province to set a hard deadline for executors. Generally, the Alberta courts expect an executor to distribute the estate to the beneficiaries within a year of probate being granted.

Whether you are an executor or a beneficiary, our wills and estates lawyers can help analyze your particular situation and determine how long an executor has to settle an estate in Alberta in your case.

Responsibilities of an executor in Alberta

The executor's most pressing responsibility after the death of the testator is to make funeral and burial arrangements. After that, the executor's responsibilities include:

  • identifying, collecting and preserving the assets of the estate
  • probating the will, if necessary
  • advertising to inform potential creditors of the testator's death
  • paying any debts and taxes owed by the estate
  • distributing the estate to beneficiaries
  • accounting for the administration and distribution of the estate.

Depending on the complexity of the estate, some duties may be unnecessary. Probating a will, for example, is only necessary if the executor needs to prove the validity of the will to the Land Title Office or to a financial institution. It is often not required for a small or simple estate as the title to certain assets may pass directly to beneficiaries.

What affects the length of time an executor takes to settle an estate in Alberta?

The size and complexity of the estate will be the primary factor affecting how long an executor has to settle an estate in Alberta. An estate with many assets and liabilities may:

  • require the will to be probated, which may take several weeks or months
  • be more likely to be the subject of disputes or even litigation relating to the will, taxes or other liabilities
  • include assets that are more difficult and time-consuming to liquidate and distribute, such as a business or multiple properties
  • require the creation or dissolution of a trust.

While there is a general expectation that a relatively straight-forward estate should be settled in approximately one year, the executor can only do their best and that is all that the courts expect.

Contact our Edmonton Estate Administration Lawyers Today

If you are the executor or the beneficiary of an estate and you have concerns about the amount of time that has passed since the testator's death without any distribution to the beneficiaries, our wills and estates professionals can help. Contact us today to get advice from an Edmonton wills and estates lawyer.

Disclaimer: Please note the content in this article is not intended to act as legal advice. For more specific legal advice please consult with a family lawyer.

5 Benefits of Collaborative Divorce in Alberta

5 benefits of Collaborative Divorce in Alberta

5 benefits of Collaborative Divorce in Alberta

Collaborative divorce is a process that enables spouses to resolve conflicts arising from their separation or divorce in a non-adversarial manner using a small team of experts including lawyers, financial specialists and mental health experts, if necessary.

Many people find the collaborative family law process preferable to a traditional court-based divorce process. The following are 5 benefits of a collaborative divorce in Alberta:

  1. You and your spouse stay in control of the process.

When you ask the court to make decisions for your family, you often end up with a make-shift solution that does not actually work for any members of your family. The collaborative divorce process allows you and your spouse to control the issues and the outcomes of the negotiation. There is no third-party decision maker to hijack your case and give you the decision they think you want. You and your spouse remain in charge of your own lives.

  1. You find solutions that work for your entire family.

Using interest-based negotiation techniques, collaborative divorce professionals help the spouses come up with novel solutions that address everyone's needs. The courts tend to provide one-size-fits-all orders to problems. There's a winner and a loser. Unfortunately, this model is rarely an appropriate way to help a family move on from a divorce or separation.

  1. You can avoid the stress of traditional litigation.

Testifying in court about your family, your finances and your personal life is something that few people enjoy. You have very little control over the process and there is a high level of uncertainty with respect to the outcome. Divorce is considered one of the most stressful life events that you can experience, which can have serious effects on your health. But it doesn't have to be that way. The collaborative divorce process provides you with the support and control that you need to minimize the stress that you experience.

  1. You can protect your family's privacy.

Many people do not understand that when you go to court, all of the information that you present to the court is a matter of public record. Court rooms are open to the public and anyone off the street has the right to come and listen to you and your spouse testify about your very personal issues. You can maintain your privacy by using a collaborative process that requires all the openness and exchange of financial information of the traditional litigation process, but keeps that information between just you and your spouse.

  1. You can avoid the financial costs of traditional litigation.

Collaborative divorce can be less expensive than going to court for several reasons. It can be a faster process and is specifically designed to be more efficient than litigation, which generally means you will pay less for legal fees. The process also enables parties to share experts, avoiding the need to pay for two financial experts or two property valuators. While there is no guarantee that you and your spouse will successfully come to an agreement, or will do so in a cost-effective manner, for most couples, the process enables them to save money.

Our Edmonton collaborative divorce lawyers can help you decide if the collaborative divorce process is right for you. Contact us today to speak with a collaborative family law professional about your case.

Disclaimer: Please note the content in this article is not intended to act as legal advice. For more specific legal advice please consult with an Edmonton divorce lawyer.

What is the difference between mediation and collaborative divorce in Alberta?

What is the difference between mediation and collaborative divorce in Alberta?

What is the difference between mediation and collaborative divorce in Alberta?

Both mediation and collaborative divorce are forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution, or ADR, which means that they are methods of resolving conflict without going to court. Family mediation enables spouses to negotiate a solution to the disputes arising from their divorce or separation with the help of a neutral third party, or mediator. Collaborative divorce enables the spouses to work together towards a settlement that benefits the entire family with the help of lawyers trained in collaborative processes.

Allow our Edmonton divorce lawyers to help you determine what is the difference between mediation and collaborative divorce in Alberta and which one is best for you.

How does family mediation work?

The mediator meets with the spouses together and acts as a facilitator as they attempt to negotiate a solution to whatever conflicts they are facing. Family mediation can be used to resolve any disputes arising from separation and divorce, no matter how broad or specific they may be. Often there are documents that must be produced and property evaluations that must be obtained before the parties can reach a final agreement. Several mediation sessions may be necessary and the process may take several weeks or months.

Participation is voluntary and either party can back out at any time. The exact process and timetable can be determined by you and your spouse so that it works for your family.

The mediator is not there to provide either you or your spouse with legal advice. Your own lawyer can attend a family mediation session with you or can meet with you separately to answer any questions you have, depending on your preferences.

How does collaborative divorce work?

In the collaborative divorce process, both spouses agree that they and their lawyers will refrain from commencing litigation or making threats about litigation. The spouses also agree to produce all relevant documents. Collaborative divorce lawyers use interest-based negotiation techniques to help the spouses reach a settlement rather than more traditional adversarial negotiation techniques. These techniques promote cooperation between the spouses and encourage a better working relationship going forward, which is particularly important when the spouses have children together.

Collaborative divorce lawyers typically work closely with financial specialists, such as accountants who specialize in the separation of family assets, tax considerations for divorcing spouses and the logistics of dividing a family business. One advantage of collaborative divorce is that you and your spouse can split the cost of a financial specialist rather than each retaining your own.

Your collaborative divorce process may also include the use of a mental health professional, who can help you and your spouse get through the process with a cooperative mindset and avoid the antagonism that often plagues a traditional divorce or separation.

If at any point you or your spouse decide not to continue with the collaborative divorce process, you both need to find a new lawyer. Your collaborative divorce lawyer is not able to represent you in court.

Which one is best for you? Contact our Edmonton Family Lawyers Today

Either family mediation or collaborative divorce can be used to resolve any issues arising from your divorce or separation. Which method is best for you may come down to which process appeals to you or your spouse.

For more information on the difference between mediation and collaborative divorce in Alberta, contact our Edmonton family lawyers today and book a consultation with our legal team.

Disclaimer: Please note the content in this article is not intended to act as legal advice. For more specific legal advice please consult with a family lawyer.

Do You Need A Lawyer In Canada If You have Been Convicted Of Driving Under The influence

Do You Need A Lawyer In Canada If You have Been Convicted Of Driving Under The influence

Do You Need A Lawyer In Canada If You have Been Convicted Of Driving Under The influence

In Canada, driving under the influence (DUI) has been considered a federal criminal offence since 1921, punishable under the Criminal Code if the driver's blood alcohol level is higher than .08 within two hours of ceasing to operate a motor vehicle. You can also be charged if you refuse to have a blood or breath test as requested by the police officer on the scene. When you are charged with a DUI offence, the officer will provide you with a document known as a "Promise to Appear", which will indicate your court appearance date. Another scenario may be that you are allowed to leave without charges, only to receive a summons in the mail afterwards. This will also indicate the date on which you need to appear in court, and it indicates that you have been charged with an offence. In some cases, you may be charged with both a criminal offence and an ADP - a 90-day administrative prohibition issued to drivers who are suspected of impaired driving.

What Is The Difference Between An ADP And A DUI?

An ADP is essentially an administrative charge, issuable under the Motor Vehicle Act. The law has changed, in that in the past, an ADP could only be issued if the driver had a reading that was higher than 0.8. Today, if the driver had a reading of exactly 0.8, they could receive an ADP. As is the case in the Criminal Code, the law covering ADPs also extends the offence to the time frame within two hours of driving. Although the law covering ADPs was initially aimed at drivers whose abilities were impaired by alcohol, it has adopted specific drug-involved offences. For instance, it has imposed a prohibited level of 5 nanograms of THC per 1 ml of blood. Other limits are imposed for other drugs, including ketamine, cocaine, and methamphetamines.

Why Is Hiring A Lawyer A Good Idea?

Hiring a lawyer for DUI offences or when you are issued with an ADP, or both an ADP and a DUI, is key, especially given that DUI laws do change over time. This is because there are very specific time limits that can have a major effect on your life when you surpass them. For instance, if you are charged with both a DUI and an ADP, your court date may be months away, but you will still have just seven days to dispute your ADP. Both charges also have very different rules and regulations governing them - including rules with respect to evidence. Your lawyer will ensure that you comply with all obligations as early as possible, and will see if there are any flaws in the way your evidence has been collected or processed. They might be able to have specific evidence excluded, which could result in a reduction or dismissal of charges.

How Can A DUI Or ADP Affect Your Life?

Both charges can have a serious effect on your livelihood, especially if you are deemed to have committed a felony. This will increase the time that your licence is suspended for, and will result in you having a criminal record. Any future employers who run background checks will have access to your files.

Changes to the DUI Penalties in Alberta

The government of Alberta is currently proposing new penalties for drivers charged with a DUI. Bill 21, the Provincial Administrative Penalties Act, will grant police the right to give first-time offenders with a blood alcohol reading of .08 or higher, a fine of $1,000. First offenders will also face a 30-day vehicle seizure and have to complete a mandatory education course. This would be in addition to existing penalties, which include a 12-month licence suspension and the requirement to use an interlock system for 12 months. However, in the absence of aggravating circumstances, the driver will not be charged criminally. Under the new rules, those caught a second time will face criminal charges and receive an additional $2,000 fine. Finally, those who commit this offence a third time will face a $2,000 fine and will have to use an interlock system for life.

If you are charged with a DUI or ADP, seeing a lawyer is always a good idea. This is because both charges have different rules and regulations, and in some cases you may need to act fast. A lawyer can help reduce or dismiss charges if evidence has been erroneously collected, or if your constitutional rights have been violated during your arrest, so ensure you are as well advised as possible.

Written by Cassie Steele for Verhaeghe Law Office