Splitting Up in a Common Law Relationship

Splitting Up in a Common Law Relationship

Splitting Up in a Common Law Relationship

There are many reasons a couple may choose to not get married. Financial matters, personal issues, long distance, and other factors may all contribute to that decision. Many couples today don’t feel marriage is necessary and would rather retain their independence.

In Alberta, common law relationships, also called adult interdependent relationships, are defined as couples who are unrelated and have been living together for at least three years, or less if they have children together.

Navigating the legal issues surrounding a divorce can be tricky enough, but matters are complicated when the couple splitting up isn’t married.

Are you in a common law relationship and wondering about your rights in the case of a split?

Below are some things to consider.

Property Rights

Couples in common law relationships don’t have the right to division of property as a married couple would. However, through unjust enrichment and joint family venture, a court can determine how much of the property you are entitled to based on a variety of factors beyond simply the monetary contributions you made to the relationship. So, if you were a stay-at-home parent or made less money than your partner, you shouldn’t have to worry about losing all of your property in the breakup of your common law relationship.

Spousal & Child Support

Couples in adult interdependent relationships can make claims for spousal support, and they hold the same rights as married couples for child support under the Family Law Act (as opposed to the Divorce Act used to protect married couples). A judge can order a paternity test for the man in a common law couple. Our lawyers at Verhaeghe Law Office are highly experienced in helping common law partners seek the support they need to maintain their quality of life post-splitting up.

Child Custody

If the common law couple has children, the mother is automatically considered the sole guardian of the child if the father doesn’t claim paternity or make intentions to take care of the child. However, through the Family Law Act, the father can make claims for custodial rights or parenting time. In this case, the matter would be settled in court to determine custody and visitation.

Wills & Inheritance

What happens if your partner passes away without a will? Do you have a right to their inheritance? It depends on if you have children with your partner or not. If you do, you are entitled to 100% of the estate. If you don’t, but your partner had children with someone else, you are entitled to 50% of the estate. However, if your partner did leave a will, you are entitled to whatever they left you.

Precautions

The last thing you want to think about while in a relationship is the potential of splitting up. But taking a few precautions ahead of time can protect both parties in the case that something goes wrong. For example, you might consider creating a contract or cohabitation agreement that details division of property, alimony, or other factors for which you wouldn’t otherwise have legal protection. Both partners should make sure they have a legal will so they can ensure their estate will be divided according to their wishes.

Contact Verhaeghe Law Office for Your Common Law Relationship Needs

Our lawyers are highly experienced in the nuances of Alberta’s common law relationship and adult interdependent partnership laws. We will defend your rights and work towards your best interests in the case the relationship dissolves. Contact us today at (587) 410-2500 for questions or to schedule an appointment.

5 Legal Tips for Small Businesses

5 Legal Tips for Small Businesses

Ways to Make Joint Custody Work

If you have an excellent idea for a business, yet have never owned one before, then one of your first stops should be to a lawyer's office. There are an incredible amount of legal loopholes that you have to jump through to open up your business, and complying with the law will keep your doors open and your reputation intact. Here are five tips when it comes to the legal side of owning and operating a business.

Budget More than You Think You Need

Legal expenses (not just fees to lawyers, but fees for licenses and registering your business) add up quickly. You will almost always be paying more than you calculated initially due to issues that may pop up and back and forth with licencing bodies. You should discuss the estimated total legal fees with your lawyer at the beginning, while will help you to budget, but understand that you will probably need more.

Get a Lawyer experienced in Small Business and Startup Law

When you are hiring your lawyer, you should consider one of two options: hiring many lawyers each with unique specializations or hiring a lawyer from a firm that has multiple specialties. If possible, it is great to have a small business lawyer represent you who works in a practice that has experts in multiple areas, so that you have consistent service from specialists who understand your case.

Get Licenced

Not having your licence, whether it is a liquor licence, lender licence, professional licence, or even standard business licence, can get you into a lot of trouble. Not being adequately licenced, just like with driving a car without a licence, can result in fines and even jail time. Some licences you can apply for before you have a business, while others you need to have a business to be able to apply for. In the interim, you cannot provide the services that your licence would permit you to provide the public. You can, however, run on a modified basis - for example, a restaurant can still serve food and non-alcoholic beverages while they are waiting for their liquor licence to come through.

Don't Forget About Human Resources

While you have to have all aspects of your legal life taken care of when it comes to running your business, you have to be compliant with all legalities surrounding your employees. You need to make sure that you pay on time and appropriately, that you are following all legal minimum standards, and have all health and safety codes in place. A lawyer can help you design your employment contracts and all codes so that they are legally binding and will hold up in court. A top business lawyer can also advise and help draft policy manuals to help avoid labour problems and work place harassment/ sexual harassment law suits.

Do What You Can While You Wait

If you are waiting for a licence to come through, or paperwork to be completed, do not sit around and wait. Get working and get your business off the ground as much as possible. Business moves fast, you have to move faster.

Legal Advice from Verhaeghe Law Office

If you need corporate law help in Edmonton then contact Verhaeghe Law Office. Our law firm has business lawyers who can help you establish your business and take it to new heights. We have helped 1000’s of start-up businesses grow to small businesses and larger. Contact us today!

Ways to Make Joint Custody Work

Ways to Make Joint Custody Work

Ways to Make Joint Custody Work

Sharing custody of your children after a divorce is stressful for everybody involved, but it can be a lot worse if you are not prepared. Having to coordinate schedules, determining when the best times are for your children to visit each parent equally, dividing holiday time, and transporting your children between houses takes a lot of work to organize. If you are in the middle of a divorce or just entering joint custody for the first time, read below to ensure you, your ex-partner and your children are prepared for this new change.

Keep a Positive Attitude

It may be hard, but having a positive attitude when you are around your children and your ex-spouse goes a long way in keeping your children in better spirits. Even if you are by yourself with your children, never talk down about your ex-spouse when they are around. Children, especially if they are young, can pick up bad feelings about their other parent based on how you talk about them. At the end of the day, having joint custody is about making your children happy, so keep their emotions in mind every time you see them.

Be Open and Realistic About Your Schedule

If you and your ex-spouse lead very busy lives, you need to make sure you both know each other’s schedule to ensure your children get equal time with both of you. If you know you will be taking a business trip in a few months, ask your ex-spouse if you can see your children a bit more before and after the trip to make up for that time. You may also need to sacrifice some leisure activities to make time to see your children. Joint custody will require a lot of compromise and sacrifice, so make sure you and your ex-spouse know major events or trips to work around your schedules.

Keep an Open Channel of Communication

To ensure you are aware of each other’s schedule and if anything last minute comes up, you need to have open communication. With today’s technology, it’s very easy to keep in contact to discuss schedules and upcoming events. You can have email chains, Google Calendars or text as ways to keep in contact without calling or talking in person.

Listen to your Children

Your children will be going through a lot of emotions during your divorce as well. You should always listen to their concerns and ask them how they are doing. You should also be aware of their schedule. If they play sports during the week, you need to make sure somebody is available to take them to their games and practices. They may also want to go to birthday parties and sleepovers throughout the year that may compromise your joint custody schedule. When your children get older, you have to be supportive of their schedules when they start working part-time jobs and participating in other extracurricular activities.

With decades of experience in Child Custody matters, please feel free to Contact Us for more information.

Questions to Ask your Real Estate Lawyer

Questions to Ask your Real Estate Lawyer

Questions to Ask your Real Estate Lawyer

If you are going to be making any kind of real estate transaction, you will need the help of a real estate lawyer. Real estate lawyers can help with the purchase of a new home, investment properties, foreclosures, and any kind of complication that may arise while you are trying to close on a property. While there are some for sale by owner deals, bypassing realtors, you most often cannot get by without a lawyer, and so when it comes time to make your property purchase or do anything related to real estate you will need to find a lawyer that can represent you. Here are some questions that you can ask of your real estate lawyer to determine if they are a good fit for you.

What similar experience do they have?

While all cases are unique, you want a lawyer who has worked on similar real estate cases to your own. When you are making a simple home purchase, you can rest assured that they have the necessary experience, as processing property transactions are very common. Less common real estate needs are the ones that need expertise and experience, so make sure that your lawyer can handle them if they are what you face.

What is your fee policy?

When you are going through the process of buying a house, you should set aside a certain amount of money for legal fees. No matter what, hiring a lawyer will have additional costs, and depending on your needs those costs can vary. For standard home purchases, this is often a flat fee, but if there are any legal issues, court cases, or settlements associated with your case, then fees can add up. Discuss their fee policy and how they operate before you begin working with them so that there will be no nasty surprises for anyone. Remember, the more experienced a lawyer, the higher their fees usually are.

How can I reach you?

Your lawyer will have other cases and priorities throughout their time working with you. While this is true, you still want to know that if you have questions that there is an avenue where you can reach your lawyer or a representative from their firm. Whether a real estate paralegal administrator, junior partner, or person at the firm can answer your question, forward it to the lawyer, or get an answer from the lawyer for you, is essential and you want to know that there is a clear route for communication that you can rely on throughout the process. This is especially true for when you will be picking up keys to your new home from your realtor.

Real Estate Law with Verhaeghe Law Office

If you are looking for an Edmonton law firm to handle all of your real estate needs, then look no further than Verhaeghe Law Office. Our team of experienced lawyers have expertise in a multitude of areas, including real estate law, family law, estate and probate law and corporate law. If you have any real estate problems or are simply purchasing or selling a home, then contact us today.

The Role of Neuroscience in Criminal Law

The Role of Neuroscience in Criminal Law

The Role of Neuroscience in Criminal Law

How often have you heard someone say, “I couldn’t help myself,” in defense of an unlawful action? Do you believe there is a real, scientific, brain-based reason for their behavior? Neuroscientific evidence has been considered in Canadian courts, particularly that of prenatal alcohol exposure, traumatic brain injury, and results of neuropsychological testing, mostly during the sentencing phase. Is it a good idea to pursue biological reasons, such as brain trauma, for criminal behaviors? Finding the right time to introduce such evidence and determining its usefulness is a delicate balance.

Research and Discussion

Some notable points gleaned from several studies indicate some interesting points, such as: While presenting one’s mental capacity as a reason for committing a crime has been used by defense lawyers for some time, only in the last few years have researchers connected their studies to actual court application.

Neuroscience evidence tends to be used during the sentencing phase of a trial, when there is less pushback about admissible evidence, and the defendant's current mental state is considered. Interestingly, this type of evidence is presented more often in high-stakes cases. Unfortunately, they have not determined whether neuroscience is more relevant in homicide or sexual assault case, for example, or if the parties involved are more likely to invest in experts in these cases.

The Difficulty of Setting a Standard

Ongoing research in both Canada and the US is studying the overall frequency of neuroscientific evidence being introduced in criminal courts. Questions abound, such as how the evidence is treated by judges. Do they examine it and understand the relevance? Trust the experts? Weigh it differently than other evidence?

Some of the limitations in studying the use of neuroscience in court cases are related to data collection. Finding past cases and determining if and how neuroscientific evidence was considered is a challenge. The actual collection of cases may present logistical problems as well. For example, if French cases are not included due to the databases used, a significant number may be missed.

There is an overall upward trend in the number of cases presenting evidence of brain injury or cognitive impairment in Canada. This evidence has been accepted as relevant to the defendant’s mental capacity, responsibility, ability to respond to rehabilitation, and more.

The most common types of cognitive impairment presented in studies are fetal alcohol syndrome, neuropsychological testing (memory, IQ, etc), and traumatic brain injury.

As there is no standard by which to measure the weight of this during decision-making, the subjective opinion of the relevance of the evidence is determined by the judge.

Neuroscientific Evidence and You

During sentencing, this information may prove helpful. Using a traumatic brain injury as an explanation for committing a crime may be a risk unless it is clear that the individual is incapacitated and therefore morally blameless. As a factor in sentencing, diminished mental capacity may be considered a high risk for recidivism and a danger to the public. These two considerations oppose each other—an individual is morally blameless but is a risk for committing a similar crime again—and public safety is at the forefront of any court decision. This is a conundrum for the judges presiding over cases using neuroscience within defense and sentencing.

There are cases that demonstrate defendants with cognitive deficits are candidates for rehabilitation. If you or a family member have committed a crime and have fetal alcohol syndrome disorder, a traumatic brain injury, or other brain damage. However, there are many factors at play as far as the subjective opinions of judges on how to handle these cases in Canada.

For serious crimes committed by someone with a cognitive deficit, you require a strong, knowledgeable, expert lawyer to present your case. Contact the Verhaeghe Law Office for your best defense. Call 587-410-2500.

Purchasing A Home? Buyer Beware

Purchasing A Home? Buyer Beware

Purchasing A Home? Buyer Beware

Buying a home or commercial space is an exciting experience, especially if it’s your first time. Let’s focus on home buyers in particular, where couples and families sacrifice a significant amount of their savings and their time searching for the right home. However, there is nothing worse than finding the perfect home and being saddled into a bad contract. It’s important that home buyers don’t skip the critical step of having a lawyer review the contract to ensure that it’s fair, in your best interests, and that you understand your right and obligations.

Why Do I Need a Real Estate Lawyer?

Having a good real estate lawyer is like having that angel on your shoulder giving you good advice during the transaction. A lawyer can help you avoid some common problems with a home purchase or sale. Often, real estate agents use a one-size-fits-all form for their brokerage agreement, but this doesn’t always cover all of the extenuating circumstances. It’s essential to avoid vague and unclear terms, which can end up costing you in the long run.

Purchase Agreements

The purchase agreement is the most important document in a real estate transaction. In it, it details the conditions that both the buyer and seller agree to. This also includes the purchase price and is a legally binding contract between the two parties. Most of the conditions in this agreement are designed to protect the buyer (e.g., repairs that need to be completed by the seller.)

The agreement also outlines when the buyer will take possession of the home and move in. Additionally, any conditions under which either the buyer or seller can legally back out will be written into this agreement. The most common reasons people back out of a deal is that they could not secure financing or there are legal matters that pertain to an estate. If a seller backs out of the deal for any other reason other than what’s outlined in the purchase agreement, the buyer may be able to recover damages in court.

The Purchase Agreement Is Signed. Now What?

The purchase agreement is a giant hurdle to overcome, but once it’s signed, it’s time to look at the seller’s title. This is necessary to establish the state of the seller’s title to the property to the buyer’s, and most like the financial institution’s satisfaction. A title search is ordered from Alberta Land Titles. A lawyer can help review the title search and explain any exceptions or encumbrances on title. What does this mean? It’s important to determine whether there are problems showing up on the title or issues with adjoining owners. Lawyers can explain the impact of easements and agreements or any restrictions that were imposed by previous owners.

Closing Time

We’re coming down the stretch toward the finish line. While the purchase agreement might be the most important document of the transaction, the closing is the most important event. During this time, there are certain adjustments and other closing paperwork are prepared; strict trust conditions are placed on the Buyers Lawyer, certain undertakings are given by the Sellers Lawyer, title or possession passes from seller to buyer, and the balance of the purchase price is paid. For the vast majority of homebuyers, the balance of the purchase price is paid through a mortgage loan.

A lawyer is helpful in explaining the nature, amount, and fairness of closing costs and ensures that all documents are appropriately executed. This can be a confusing and complicated process to a buyer and seller, but having a real estate lawyer on your side throughout the entire transaction ensures your rights are protected. Too often we see buyers giving money directly to sellers for property owned by someone else. A lawyer can order Title Insurance for you. Last year there were in excess of 3000 cases of property fraud in Alberta or other situations where property was placed at risk. It is our policy to order Title Insurance on each and every real estate purchase transaction. When a major builder declared bankruptcy, Builders Liens were placed on many of our clients and their neighbours homes. Each and every one of our clients had Title Insurance step in and protect them. We fielded a lot of nervous calls; offering relief that they were protected for a small one-time fee (under $230.00) they paid when they purchased their property. Many of their neighbours were not so lucky. Their lawyers had not purchased Title Insurance and these buyers were stuck dealing with their liens on their own, some in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Give yourself the peace of mind when you’re making one of the most significant purchases in your lifetime and have an experienced lawyer by your side throughout the transaction. Our team at Verhaeghe Law Office has a wealth of knowledge in the real estate business and help our clients make sound decisions that could impact the rest of their lives. For more information, please free to visit our main page and let us help you.

Your Complete Guide to Child Custody in Canada

Your Complete Guide to Child Custody in Canada

Child Custody
Are there different types of child custody in Canada? Who decides on these arrangements? Here's everything you need to know about child custody in Canada.

For most, divorce is the last thing on their radar. But if you have children, you need to consider what's in their best interest.

And if you want the situation to turn out in your favour, it's best to plan ahead. The average three-day case can cost at least $60,738, and most custody trials go on for at least five to eight days.

Here, we're breaking down everything you need to know about child custody, from the types of custody to factors that affect a decision.

What is Child Custody?

But first, the basics: what is child custody?

Child custody refers simply to the care, control, and maintenance of a child. Most of the time, biological parents have the legal right to make decisions about their child's welfare without question, including their residence, education, religious upbringing, etc.

Usually, parents are not required to obtain this legal right, especially if they are married to each other and are both listed on the child's birth certificate.

However, if the parents disagree over who has the right to make these decisions, or if officials find that the parents are unfit to make these decisions for some reason, the family courts (Queen's Bench or Provincial courts) work with the legal representation of the parents to determine custody arrangements.

Types of Child Custody

Keep in mind, though, that there are several different types of child custody. These include:

  • Sole or full custody
  • Joint custody
  • Shared custody
  • Split custody

Each of these is a subset within physical and legal custody and is determined based on the family situation in question.

Understanding Physical vs. Legal Custody

Before we go into the different types of custody, it's important to understand the difference between physical and legal custody, as the four types of custody listed here can be any combination of physical and legal custody.

Basically, when someone has physical custody of a child, that means that they're responsible for the child's day-to-day care, which almost always means that the child will live with a parent who has physical custody.

Legal custody, on the other hand, refers to the legal authority to make decisions in the child's life, such as education, healthcare, religion, and other concerns.

It is quite possible (common, even) to have one but not the other--parents might share legal custody but not physical custody. In other words, you could have a situation where both parents have legal input but the child only lives with one parent.

With that in mind, let's talk about the different types of custody.

Sole Custody or Full Custody

Sole custody is a term you've probably heard tossed around on TV--usually, one character is demanding that the other grant full or sole custody of their kids.

If a parent has sole custody, the child lives with that parent permanently. That parent also has the right to make all important decisions about the child, regardless of whether the other parent disagrees.

The other parent may still have access rights, though this is at the discretion of the parent with sole custody.

Joint Custody

If sole custody means one parent gets 100% control, then joint custody is a 50/50 split.

Joint custody is a relatively common arrangement in which parents share equal responsibility for the child's welfare. This means they must work together to agree on schedules, decisions, and other shared responsibilities.

Usually, a rotating visiting schedule is created between parents in which the child shares time between the two parents equally.

Shared Custody

Then, there's shared custody, which is similar but not quite the same thing.

Like joint custody, parents with shared custody care for and house their children for roughly equal amounts of time. Important decisions may or may not be shared, but if decision-making is shared, the parents will have to agree on a schedule for visitation.

If they cannot agree, a judge may step in to determine a visitation schedule and the division of parental rights.

Shared custody is preferable over joint custody if:

  • One parent is away from home for extended periods of time
  • One parent is less financially stable than the other
  • One parent is ill, injured, or unable to care for their children

In these scenarios, a 50/50 split provided by joint custody is impractical. Depending on the division created in a shared custody arrangement, child support may be calculated differently.

Split Custody

Finally, there's split custody, which is another variant of joint custody.

Basically, split custody is an arrangement in which custody is split between parents. So, if a family has two children, one child may reside with the mother and the other resides with the father.

Sometimes, this means that the children live permanently with their respective parent. Other times, children may rotate living with each parent in equal amounts.

In such arrangements, parents may still share legal custody, but each parent must have physical custody of at least one child. Either way, both parents must agree on split custody, and they must prove to the court that split custody is in the best interest of their children.

However, it is one of the least common custody arrangements, and courts may not grant split custody over joint custody even if both parents agree that split custody is the best choice.

Parens Patriae

Canadian courts also have parens patriae jurisdiction. This means that the state has the power and authority to protect those who cannot act on their own behalf. In family law, this means Canadian courts can take necessary action to protect children.

This is best explained in an example.

In one case, Johnson v. Athimootil, a court in Ontario accepted jurisdiction over children in Saudi Arabia who previously lived in Toronto, moved to Saudi Arabia, and whose mother returned to Toronto with only one child and had not seen them since.

How is Child Custody Determined?

Now that you understand the various types of child custody, let's talk about how child custody is determined.

Determining Factors

There are a few factors that collectively determine the outcome of child custody decisions in Canada. Above any other factor, the court will always consider the best interests of the children first.

They will, however, take other factors into consideration when determining what the best interests of the children are. This includes:

  • The parent-child relationship
  • Respective parenting abilities
  • The mental, physical, and emotional health of each parent
  • The relative financial stability of each parent
  • The typical schedule of each parent
  • Support systems available to each parent, like the relative help and involvement of grandparents or close relatives
  • Care arrangements prior to separation
  • Any sibling issues
  • The child's wishes

Most of the time, courts prefer to keep siblings together (which is why split custody arrangements are so unusual). However, under some circumstances, the court may consider it necessary to separate the children.

The court will put the best interests of the children above all else when under the age of 18. However, once a child turns 12, their wishes to live with one parent or another is usually respected by the courts.

The past behaviour of a parent will not be taken under consideration in a custody decision.

However, if there are extenuating circumstances which directly reflect on the person's ability to act as a parent, the court will consider them This includes things like substance abuse or allegations of abuse or neglect. Adultery and other marital offences are not sufficient to deny custody.

Who Decides Child Custody?

So, who is ultimately responsible for deciding who gets custody of your kids?

The decision-making power comes from one of two places:

  1. An agreement between parents
  2. The courts

Keep in mind, though, that if parents reach a decision outside of court that both can accept and such an agreement has been put in writing, the court generally won't interfere. This is preferable, as it's far less expensive and disruptive.

However, if parents cannot reach a decision, they may have to ask a court to step in and mediate for them. In making their decisions, courts will consider the Divorce Act, the Family Law Act, the Children's Law Reform Act, and precedents set in other cases.

However, as we said, the court will always consider the best interests of the child first.

Conditions the Courts Favor

However, even with all of these possible considerations, there are three factors that courts usually favour:

  1. A pre-existing arrangement between parents
  2. Whether one parent is full-time or not
  3. Which parent is the primary caregiver

For example, as a rule, courts prefer to grant custody to whichever parent was the primary caregiver before the divorce. This is usually the mother, but it can be the father or even a grandparent.

They will also consider how much time each parent can devote to the children (whether or not a parent works, what their work schedule looks like) relative to their capacity to financially and emotionally support the child.

Child Support

Part of the court's decision has to do with child support, as child support is often determined by the custody decision.

In any custody decision that is some variant of joint custody, especially shared custody situations, a judge will endeavour to set child support amounts to ensure that children in a similar situation are treated the same.

Determining Factors

Now, there are a variety of factors that will determine a child support decision. Our examples will assume the court is making the decision.

First, a court will determine whether the shared custody rule applies. They will primarily consider cost or time as deciding factors.

For example, under child support guidelines, a parent must exercise access to or have physical custody of a child for 40% or more of the time in a year. However, there are several arguments against this rule.

As such, a judge may also consider cost as a deciding factor, which means they must decide which costs are legitimate. However, it is worth noting that child support for low-income mothers is generally inadequate, while child support for high-income mothers often far exceeds their actual need.

Deciding on Child Custody

Once you know all the mitigating factors and the types of child custody available to you, you need to figure out what custody arrangement is best for your children.

You have one of two options: going to court, or working it out outside of court.

Going to Court

In theory, going to court makes it easier, since you argue your case and the decision is taken out of your hands.

In practice, going to court makes everything harder.

Aside from the financial strain that results from a trial, taking your case to court takes a huge emotional toll on your family. Going to court is a valid option if you just cannot agree, but if you can find a way to reach an agreement outside of court, it makes the whole divorce much easier.

Without Going to Court

Outside of court, you have several options to figure out child custody.

One of the main people who can help you through your divorce is a family or divorce lawyer. They can help guide you through the entire process and help ensure the best possible outcome.

In addition, you may also consider working with a family mediator or a therapist. Divorce is a stressful time, especially for kids, and you want your children to feel secure going into this new phase of life.

The Family Lawyer You Need

Central to ensuring a smooth child custody process is a great family lawyer. That's where we come in.

Whether you've lived in Canada for your entire life or you're brand new to this country, we're here to help you make sense of the legal system. Our family lawyers understand and empathize with clients and provide a realistic assessment of your situation.

We have many testimonials that speak to our clients' satisfaction with our services.

If you need to speak with an attorney, use our contact page to get in touch.

Immigrating to Canada

Welcome to Canada, eh! |Immigrating to Canada

Immigrating to Canada

Let’s face facts, we live in a time of heightened national paranoia. As a result, amendments have been written making entry into a country, residency, and citizenship more difficult than any other time. If you live in, or wish to live in, Edmonton, AB and are seeking a Visa of any sort, wishing to become a naturalized citizen, or are facing deportation - Verhaeghe Law Office is the first call you should make. As there are many scenarios that bring people to immigrate or seek refuge elsewhere, we have worked diligently to be versed in all matters of the immigration law, Visa and residency processes. As these are very serious legal matters, they should not be dealt with alone. This is especially true because you can do irreversible damage to your ability to apply for any long-term entry into Canada again in the future.

Requirements For Entering Canada Legally

We provide Visa, permanent residence and naturalized citizenship assistance and many more legal services to those seeking entry into Edmonton, AB. Please contact us for more information, don’t face this alone.

In most cases, obtaining one aspect of entry into Canada is tied directly to another. For example, in procuring citizenship, you need to be a permanent resident, and to be a permanent resident, you most likely needed a Visa first, though being a foreign worker with a Visa does not automatically provide permanent residency. As you can see, this is a very complex subject, which is why we are happy to represent you.

Below is a very brief overview of the requirements for obtaining legal citizenship in Canada, from Canada.ca. Click through each link to read the important details of each step.

  1. Permanent Resident status - Get a PR Card for legally living in Canada as a citizen of another country.
  2. Time you have lived in Canada - 1095 days during the five years right before the date you sign your application
  3. Income tax filing - You must meet your personal income tax filing obligations in three tax years that are fully or partially within the five years right before the date you apply.
  4. Language skills -To become a citizen, you must show that you can speak and listen in one of Canada’s official languages: English or French.
  5. How well you know Canada -You’ll need to answer questions about Canada’s: values, history, symbols, and institutions.
  6. Prohibitions - If you have committed a crime in or out of Canada, you may not be eligible to apply for citizenship, depending on the status of the crime.

Learn More About Immigration Law

If you need assistance with, more information about, or legal representation for any of the following, please don’t wait to call. Time is extremely important in these matters.

  • diplomatic immunity
  • green card fraud
  • illegal aliens
  • refugee status
  • Visa rejections and renewals
  • naturalization proceedings
  • amnesty

Verhaeghe Law Office in Edmonton, AB can help you become a citizen of Canada, obtain Visas, and assist with deportation. Please contact us at (587) 410-2500 to discuss your best options.

Have You Written a Will?

Why Write a Will?

Why Write a Will?

A will is also referred to as a Last Will and Testament, a document that becomes valid after your death. In it, you express what you want to happen to your assets and property. Writing a will with your lawyer ensures that your assets are distributed exactly as you want. Without a will, even if you have verbally expressed your desires, your assets may not go to those you’d like to have them.

Your Will

Writing a will may not be at the top of your to-do list. There’s no predetermined time in your life that is the “perfect” time to do it. Some people approach the subject after receiving a serious medical diagnosis. Some choose to do it when they get married, or when they have their first child. These are all significant life events that, if you haven’t done it already, should spur you to get that will ready. Planning ahead will benefit everyone involved. According to a poll by the Angus Reid Institute, 51% of Canadians don’t have a will. Don’t be one of them.

People often ask if they need a lawyer to make a will. There are will kits available online that lead you through the process and are very basic. Think of them as one-size-fits-all wills. Your particular situation or circumstances may not be covered. In addition, decoding the legal language can be difficult. The kits come with instructions but if they are not followed to the letter your will may not stand up as a legal document.

Consulting a lawyer is the safest way to complete a will that follows your wishes and provides for your loved ones.

Included in Your Will

In addition to distribution of your assets, other issues that may pertain to you will be covered in your will. One such item is setting up a trust. Young children cannot receive an inheritance in Canada. A trust, managed by an appointed Trustee, is set up so that the money is held safe until the child is old enough to manage the money on their own.

Also concerning children, if something happens to both parents, a will is used to name the people you have chosen for guardianship. If you don’t choose a guardian in your will, the judge will appoint a guardian. This may or may not be the person you would have chosen.

In Addition To Your Will

Two other legal documents are very important to complete in preparation for serious illness and end of life. An Advanced Healthcare Directive and an Enduring Power of Attorney.

An Advanced Healthcare Directive is a legal document that serves as informed consent for a medical situation in which you are unable to discuss your wishes for treatment options. These are legal documents outlining medical conditions and treatment options, usually in a templated document, along with personalized notations for each treatment. You can also add values statements to these, that may help clarify your directives in medically complex situations. Advanced Healthcare Directives generally include no CPR, DNR (Do Not Resuscitate), no feeding tube, and other treatments.

Power of Attorney is another important legal document that many older adults consider. It designates that the assigned person can manage money or property on your behalf while you are mentally incapable of handling your affairs. If you become mentally incapacitated, the Power of Attorney ends. An Enduring Power of Attorney allows the designated person to continue to act on your behalf if you become mentally unable to do so.

What If I Change My Mind?

One reason people hesitate to make a will is that they fear once their wishes are in a legal document they are cemented in place. This is not the case. Once you’ve seen a lawyer and have written a will, revisit it every five years or in the event of a significant life change. Do you still want your assets and properties divided the same way? Wills can be revised with documented changes in a Codicil, a supplement to your will that modifies it.

It may seem morbid to think about your death, but it’s the best way to make sure your assets are distributed the way you want. Don’t leave your family in the difficult position of having your estate distributed by a government formula. Write a will and protect your assets—and your loved ones. Call Verhaeghe Law Office today at 587.410.2500 and make an appointment to write your will.

Mediation Matters: Avoid The Trial

Mediation Matters: Avoid The Trial

Mediation Matters: Avoid The Trial

When you file a Notice of Claim or a Dispute Note, mediation can serve as a way to avoid long, expensive and tempestuous trial court deliberations. Defined by Canada’s Department of Justice, “mediation is negotiation between disputing parties, assisted by a neutral. While the mediator is not empowered to impose a settlement, the mediator's presence alters the dynamics of the negotiation and often helps shape the final settlement.” In other words, having a lawyer that is impartial to either side of the case, acting as a legal mediator, can guide you to a peaceful or, at the very least, calmer resolution that is fair to both parties. Without spending days in a courtroom trial or in arbitration you can avoid legal expenses piling up by preparing well for mediation and working toward a common goal. If you are dealing with a particularly painful subject matter, avoiding having to discuss these details in front of more parties and having them debated can also help reduce emotional distress. There are many reasons to seek mediation, and there are careful steps you can take to prepare for mediation, as well.

Mediation: Pros and Potential Cons

As mentioned, mediation can help keep costs down during a delicate legal situation between two parties, as well as reducing emotional distress. Below are some more pros that relate to legal mediation, as well as a list of potential cons. We say potential as these won’t necessarily relate to every mediation situation, where as the pros can be true across the board.

Pros:

  • Legal service cost reduction.
  • Emotional stress reduction.
  • More private than trial and litigation.
  • Less time consuming than trial, litigation or arbitration.
  • Reduce animosity between parties (especially crucial when children are involved).
  • It is easier to agree on third parties to help further with mediation than in trial.
  • This is a negotiation, which means unique and specific outcomes can be arranged more easily than in trial court.
  • Helps maintain peace when a continued relationship is needed or desired (business or personal).
  • Can review and come to resolutions on many varied issues, something that may otherwise involve different trials and litigation.

Potential Cons:

  • Legal precedents cannot be produced.
  • Similar to the trial concern of a judge deciding your fate, you are at the will of your mediator to protect both parties best interests and guide you both fairly.
  • Due to mediation being non-adjudicative, one party can manipulate mediation to avoid or prolong avoidance of trial and litigation.
  • Power imbalance is a very real fear for many contemplating mediation. In cases involving manipulation and “power play” such as mental, physical and sexual harassment or discrimination, mediation may not work. This is because all boundaries that are set need to be agreed upon mutually and both parties have to trust that the other wishes to genuinely find the most positive solution.

How To Prepare For Mediation

The most crucial step to mediation is genuinely agreeing to participate in the first place. Once agreed upon, it is imperative that both parties remain honest and open-minded, working towards a common solution. Below is a very general outline of how to set up and prepare for mediation. Bare in mind this can change depending on your exact situation, which our legal team is happy to assist you with.

  • Both parties agree to mediation.
  • Agree on mediator selected.
  • Confirm the issue(s) that you mutually wish to resolve.
  • Settle all mediation costs ahead of time, most typically a 50/50 split.
  • Agree upon what third parties are allowed, other than the mediator, ie: accountants, psychologists, etc.
  • Create a written agreement for if/when resolving the dispute takes place.
  • Establish all boundaries: mediators mandate, each party’s responsibilities, time per mediated session, how much mediation you agree to before deciding on litigation, and much more that will be more directly related to your particular situation. (In some cases mediation can only go a certain amount of time before legally bound to move into court.)

There are far more detailed steps to preparing effectively for a proper and amicable mediation that you should discuss with an official legal mediator. Verhaeghe Law Office will walk both parties through every step of the mediation process, ensuring everyone is comfortable with the agreed upon terms

Learn More About Mediation

One major takeaway we hope to impart is that trying mediation does not hurt, and can potentially lead to more palatable, fair and efficient results. Our legal team is here to discuss mediation and how to best represent both of your best interests. For more information about how Verhaeghe Law Office can help you through a difficult legal balance without elongated trials, please contact us at (587) 410-2500 to discuss if mediation is your best option