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 Happens If You’ve Delayed In Bringing a Court Claim?

What Happens If You’ve Delayed In Bringing a Court Claim?

Generally speaking, any party that wants to initiate a court action must do it within a couple of years when he/she first becomes aware of the existence of the claim. This period is called the limitation period and there are many considerations that define when a limitation period commences for a particular claim. Many times you may be dealing with a problem with your landlord or a neighbour or your workplace. Sometimes the issue is so small and at a nascent stage that many individuals wait quite some time before they decide to take legal recourse to initiate action and seek a remedy. At such times, a court may or may not grant you the permission to bring in a claim. For instance, in the case of Presley v Van Dusen, 2019 ONCA 66, the Ontario Court of Appeal recently confirmed that for the limitation period to commence, one of the key considerations that must be asked is whether or not a legal proceeding is really an appropriate means to seek to remedy the injury, loss, or damage?

It is quite common for people to suffer an issue long before they opt for the legal route. Typically, in this Presley v Van Dusen case, the claim for a defective septic system was filed in August 2015, although the homeowners had already started noticing problems with the septic tank in the spring of 2011 itself. In this particular case, the Small Claims Court judge dismissed the claims stating that the claim was started too late after the problem was first noticed. Even after an appeal against this dismissal was made in the Divisional Court, the homeowners did not get the solicited remedy as this court too agreed with the decision of the Small Claims Court judge. Unfortunately, neither courts acknowledged that it was only after trying for a long time to get the problem fixed, the homeowners realized that a legal proceeding was the only way left to address their issue.

From the Court of Appeal’s point of view, one important aspect of this case was that the septic installer kept providing ongoing guidance and feedback to the homeowners for solving the problem. Moreover, he also promised that he would be returning to the home to fix the issue and due to this manifestation of intent, the homeowners probably did not take the legal recourse sooner.

The Court of Appeal found that the homeowners did not know that filing a claim would be an appropriate means of seeking a remedy till they were convinced that the septic installer was not intending to follow through on his promises.

In conclusion, the law respecting limitation periods needs to be applied in a way as to deter needless litigation. However, having said that it is extremely important to regard the timing of the issue when it comes to filing a claim. Typically, a two year limitation period needs to be taken into consideration. If you are thinking about filing a claim and are not sure whether it is too late for filing one or are interested to know your legal alternatives, talk to a qualified and experienced lawyer from Verhaeghe Law Office. Their team of best civil lawyers in Edmonton can provide sound legal advice on any civil, immigration and or for defence in any court-related matter.

How Alberta business owners calculate child support

How Alberta business owners calculate child support

How Alberta business owners calculate child support

Divorce and/or separation proceedings can be an emotional and complicated process for all parties involved. It can be even more challenging for business owners as there are additional considerations unique from most other divorces. When divorce proceedings include business owners – the calculation of child support payments can become a rather complex and challenging process. In situations like this, we recommend you consult with a divorce lawyer to review what your options are as well as answer any complex questions you may have with regards to your divorce and subsequent child support payments.

The Federal and Alberta Child Support Guidelines are two legal frameworks designed to provide guidance on financial support payments. However, as a business owner some sections of these frameworks may or may not apply to you during your divorce proceeding and requires individual legal advice and interpretation to your unique and individual situation. For example, if you are a business owner that is married – the Federal Child Support Guidelines may be used to govern child support calculation whereas if you are not married, the Alberta Child Support Guidelines may be used as a reference point to calculate child support payments. Both the Federal and Alberta Child Support Guidelines make sure that regardless of your marital status and as a business owner – the courts will be looking very closely at the amount that you as a business owner are claiming as an expense. Hiring an experienced family lawyer to help reduce the complexities of your case as they pertain to child support payments is highly recommended in a situation like this.

The Alberta Child Support Guidelines

The Alberta Child Support Guidelines require parties to disclose things like income, debt, assets, expenses and other relevant financial information as they pertain to divorce proceedings. In the case of business owners, chartered professional accountants or chartered business valuators can assist business owners with providing this information as they relate to divorce proceedings as well as inform the relevant party as to what their options are.

The Federal Child Support Guidelines

The Federal Child Support Guidelines are a set of guidelines that explain how financial assistance for minor children will be calculated. Additionally, it serves to fulfill four major objectives including:

  • Establish a fair standard of support for children that they continue to benefit financially even after both spouses have separated
  • Reduce conflict and tension between spouses by making the child support calculation process more objective
  • Improve efficiency of the legal process as they pertain to child support calculations
  • Ensure consistent treatment of spouses and children

What Information Is Required To Prove Income During Child Support Deliberations?

During divorce proceedings – a business owner may be required to provide extensive financial documentation. The purpose of providing documentation on the below items is to assist with the assessment of the required child support amount. Some of the required documentation may include:

  • Business financial statements
  • Earnings slip
  • Tax returns
  • Re-assessment records
  • Insurance as it pertains to your business
  • Workers compensation information if applicable
  • Disability information if applicable
  • Public assistance records if applicable
  • Partnership information
  • Trust settlement records
  • Pre-tax income records
  • And more

If you are a business owner and believe you need to dispute the amount of child custody payments you are required to make then contact our Edmonton law office today. There are too many complexities to discuss here with regards to child support payments as a business owner and it’s best to seek legal assistance regarding your individual situation.

At Verhaeghe Law Office – our Edmonton family lawyers have helped numerous business owners embattled in child custody payment disputes. Where things can get complex in a situation like this is when business finances become embroiled with personal finances which may leave the justice system to interpret your financial situation very differently than how Canada Revenue Agency does. We encourage you to seek legal counsel if you are a business owner and are about to or are currently going through divorce proceedings and especially if there is a debate on the child custody payments you are required to make. We can help you prepare and work towards an expeditious and reasonable payment arrangement as we help navigate you through your divorce proceedings. 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 From a Man’s Perspective

Divorce from a Man's Perspective

What is Alternative Dispute Resolution

Divorce is a difficult life event for all parties involved. More men in recent years have been pushing for equal rights when it comes to child custody and other aspects of a divorce. Both men and women face repercussions during and after a divorce, but they can minimize the damage they do to their lifestyle, children’s lives, and assets. This traumatic event often clouds judgment, causing individuals to react emotionally and not always use facts to back their side. This is the second part of the two-part series exploring the women’s and men’s perspective on divorce. If you’re considering a divorce, call Verhaeghe Law Office at 587-410-2500 for a consultation to ensure your understanding of the divorce process.

Don’t Use Children As Leverage

A judge will grant custody to the parent who nurtures and fosters a positive relationship between the child and the other parent. In the end, the judge will rule in the child’s, not the parents’, best interest. Using your child to harm your former spouse’s feelings or to further your financial goals will be looked down upon and will be used against you.

Neglecting Family Duties

Being in divorce proceedings isn’t a ticket to not continue supporting your family. In fact, it’s quite the contrary. This is a time to ensure all of your finances are in order and that everybody is taken care of financially and emotionally. If you’re the breadwinner in your family, your financial responsibilities don’t end after filing. Meaning, you still need to help pay for utilities and mortgage for the marital home and keep up insurance coverages before the divorce is final. Cutting off support will do you no favors in the judge’s eyes.

Hiding Your Assets

Any attempt to hide assets will result in expensive litigation that could put you on the hook for your former wife’s lawyers’ fees as well. Being open and transparent about your finances evokes trust and that you’re willing to work through the issues. Hiding them has the complete opposite effect.

Don’t Be Indecisive

If you’ve been served divorce papers, this is a serious matter that you can’t just shrug off. Many studies have shown that most men don’t emotionally respond in the same way as women. Men will bottle it up, but again, this is the exact opposite of what you should do. Failing to act can have devastating consequences. Your wife and her lawyer are building a case and whether you’re ready or not, proceedings will take place. We can help prepare you for the road ahead.

You Have An Opportunity

Don’t believe the myth that as a man you will have less leverage over your wife in any part of the divorce process. Your best advantage during a divorce, a division of property, spousal support, and child custody is to hire an experienced family court lawyer. We have worked in many cases that have given men what they have needed to move on in their lives. Our team understands that the entire divorce process from beginning to end is challenging, but hiring Verhaeghe Law Office and showing you have the best interest of your family in mind will assist in getting the closure you crave.

What is a collaborative divorce?


What is a collaborative divorce?

What is Alternative Dispute Resolution

In a collaborative divorce – both parties work together to come to mutual agreements that are settled out of court. Simply put – a good divorce. Many Albertan families turn to collaborative divorce as an option for their divorce proceedings in an effort to keep it seamless and productive.

How does collaborative divorce work?

First, you must find an experienced Edmonton collaborative divorce lawyer and meet privately with them to discuss your case.

Your spouse and you will then sign an agreement where you agree to provide full disclosure on any information that pertains to the divorce proceedings. In collaborative divorces – you may even have the option to work with mental health professionals and financial planners if you may benefit from these services throughout your divorce proceedings. Meetings are then conducted between the couples as well as their selected collaborative family law lawyer to define the terms and expectations of each partner. At the end of the process – both parties have defined resolutions regarding financial issues, parental issues as well as the division of assets. Once a common census has been reached – your collaborative family lawyers will then draft paperwork for signature from both parties making the resolutions legally enforceable. If you are in need of a collaborative divorce lawyer – contact our law firm today for an initial consultation with one of experienced Edmonton family lawyers.

Who can use collaborative divorce?

Collaborative divorces can be used in various circumstances. For example, they can be used in:

  • Short and long-term marriages
  • Common law relationships or same-sex relationships
  • Marriages that involve or do not involve children
  • Marriages with unique cultural or religious views
  • When negotiating cohabitation agreements or pre-nuptial agreements

In certain situations – collaborative divorce may not work. For example, if your partner has a history of abusive or dominating behaviour, drug or alcohol problems or someone who is not as into the spirit of working peacefully together as you are – collaborative divorce is not recommended. We recommend you consult with an experienced divorce lawyer about your unique situation prior to coming to a decision on your own as to whether a collaborative divorce is right for you or not.

How we can help with your collaborative divorce

Collaborative divorces can be highly effective because it a process that is customized to divorcing couples rather than a court-driven process that individuals must conform to. It is a process that can empower couples to come to an agreement that resolves your unique circumstances and needs expeditiously.

At Verhaeghe Law Office – our Edmonton family lawyers have helped numerous clients with their divorce proceedings and family law matters and a member of our legal team would be pleased to speak with you. Contact us for a consultation today by calling 587-410-2500 and speak directly with an Edmonton divorce lawyer regarding your family law matter. All consultations are kept confidential.

For more information, please contact Renn Spence, a Registered Collaborative Family Law Lawyer by clicking here or by calling Renn directly at 587-409-5064, email Renn@freedomlaw.ca

Renn Spence

*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 to your divorce and family law questions.

Collaborative Family Law in Alberta

Collaborative Family Law in Alberta

Collaborative Family Law in Alberta

What is Collaborative Family Law?

Dispute resolution in family matters can be both emotionally and financially stressful for all parties involved, especially when one or both parties are hesitant about going through court processes and the effect it may have on the outcome of their divorce matter.

Collaborative Family Law was introduced into the legal system as a response to the growing dismay with the drawbacks of litigation and its adversarial nature as it relates to helping families resolve disputes. A senior family lawyer in Minneapolis founded a valuable alternative called Collaborative Law which spread across the United States and eventually into Canada. It is now widely recognized in Alberta as a low-cost alternative to high stress or highly contentious divorces.

What is the objective of Collaborative Family Law?

The main basis of Collaborative Family Law is the common understanding between both parties and their respective lawyers that they will resolve their matters without the threat of going to court and that the spirit of compassion and integrity remains as an overarching goal in an effort to produce a “good divorce”. A “good divorce” in this situation refers to legally enforceable divorce related agreements between both parties that are achieved in a timely and amicable matter. This offers a more affordable solution that preserves the social and emotional well-being of the family members involved while avoiding a potentially stressful and costly litigation process that may not serve either party’s interests in the long-term.

How does the Collaborative Family Law Process work?

In Collaborative Family Law – the first step remains in finalizing the Participation Agreement. The Participation Agreement is a document that outlines a set of terms and processes where all parties commit to the Collaborative Law process and its principles. Parties commit to full disclosure and a complete exchange of information to ensure a fair and objective negotiation. This helps provide a proper examination on both parties’ individual and common interests. With the help and guidance of Collaborative family lawyers, each party will be guided on what’s considered reasonable. There will also be an emphasis on approaching the other party with empathy and understanding regarding their respective concerns. Only if necessary, outside experts may be jointly retained with the mutual agreement of both parties. Such expertise could range from accountants, independent evaluators, therapists, etc. to help aid the participants throughout the process.

To ensure the commitment to an out-of-court process is the primary objective and to avoid any conflicts. If one of the parties ultimately decides to enter Court proceedings, then the respective collaborative family lawyers for each party resign. Their withdrawal ensures no further renumeration on the case and both parties have to seek new counsel to support the litigation process. Unless mutually agreed to by the parties, any experts retained during the Collaborative Family Law process cannot be used during the court proceedings.

These principles foster an open and constructive environment for collaborative negotiations so both parties can trust they are undertaken in good faith and both their best interests are placed as joint priority.

The emergence and rapid growth of Collaborative Family Law is motivated by the high demand from families seeking a more productive, private and dignified way of resolving emotionally-charged disputes while supported by a neutral framework including qualified legal expertise. It provides an environment where both parties and their lawyers can keep their priorities intact while tabling their independent and common interests in order to find a solution amenable to the entire family.

What are the benefits of Collaborative Family Law?

The benefits to clients in the collaborative process typically include reduced expense and faster results with respect to setting forth terms regarding division of assets, financial matters and child custody matters. The Collaborative Family Law process also fosters a spirit of openness and cooperation that generally leads to a commitment to a constructive negotiation environment. Typically, there is less posturing and showmanship than you would typically find in a traditional family law negotiation with the threat of Court proceedings looming overhead.

The process typically involves a series of face-to-face meetings between the parties with their collaborative family lawyers present. By being present and engaged, the party has a lot more control and involvement in the process which contrasts greatly with what one typically feels in Court proceedings.

This presents the client with a growth opportunity to role model in cases where children are involved, taking personal responsibility and benefiting from a face-to-face collaborative process. It also avoids putting the outcome into the hands of a Judge who despite being well-trained is still a stranger to the personal family dynamics and individual situations of both participants.

What role does the lawyer play in a Collaborative Family Law process?

The main role of a retained collaborative family law lawyer is to provide expert advice regarding an out-of-court resolution that is negotiated in good faith with mutually-agreeable outcomes and terms. Collaborative Family Law processes are not immune to highly-charged emotions and differing viewpoints so a well-trained Collaborative Family Law lawyer is equipped to understand both sides and steer all parties accordingly. Registered Collaborative Family Law practitioners in Alberta have mandatory training which includes mediation, interest-based negotiations and Collaborative Family Law. Their primary objective is to steer all parties in reaching an amicable settlement.

A common misperception is whether a client’s personal needs will be prioritized. Each collaborate family law lawyer will help identify their party’s interests and aim to reach an agreement that satisfies these interests alongside the other parties (i.e. win-win solutions, where possible). Although the broader objectives of both parties and their lawyers are to work collaboratively as a team, each lawyer’s foremost duty is to their client offering guidance on what’s reasonably expected under the circumstances.

There are a suite of resolution options that may be identified by the parties in conjunction with their family lawyers and the final agreement will capture solutions deemed mutually acceptable by both parties. The cornerstone to the process is a respective environment that maintains the dignity of both parties involved and strives to have each party understand the other’s concerns. Ultimately this leads to increased satisfaction with a final and fair outcome.

How Children Can Benefit From Collaborative Family Law

Collaborative Family Law may be an especially attractive alternative when the relationship involves children as it provides a chance to separate in an amicable fashion and demonstrate to the children how it was handled the least adversarial way. More importantly, this pathway helps both parties prioritize and provide for their most prized common interest- their children. There are numerous statistics that outline the emotional effect and toll divorces can have on children – and ending your divorce in an amicable and respectful way may reduce the emotional impact on children as opposed to lawn drawn out battles in the courtroom.

Should I consider the Collaborative Family Law process?

Divorce is already difficult enough for not just the partners involved but their families as well. Removing the additional stress of a courtroom process is typically recommended so long as both parties have a willingness to embark on the process in good faith.

Avoiding the rigid formula-driven framework of the Courts, also provides a greater degree of flexibility to identify creative win-win solutions for both parties involved. Both you and the other party will feel a larger degree of control over the process than what might be available to you in traditional Court proceedings. You will still benefit from having legally-trained experts steering you through the process and handling expectation management on both sides.

A Collaborative Family Law process is an attractive pathway to achieve timely and affordable results between two parties committed to the process. The length of time is dictated by the willingness of both parties to support the process as the timing, location and frequency of meetings are determined with mutual agreement of all parties.

If you are interested in handling the issues stemming from your divorce through Collaborative Family Law you will likely save significant time and money while mitigating emotional harm to family and loved ones. If you reside in the Province of Alberta – then we strongly recommend you hire an Alberta based or Edmonton Collaborative Family Law lawyer today to review your case to see if Collaborative Family Law may be an option for you. Contact us for a consultation today by calling 587-410-2500 and speak directly with an Edmonton divorce lawyer regarding your family law matter.

Contact Our Edmonton Collaborative Family Law lawyers

At Verhaeghe Law Office – our Edmonton Collaborative Family Law lawyers have helped numerous clients with their Collaborative Family Law matters for many years. We take pride in the fact that we aim to resolve your family law disputes in a timely and cost-effective matter. Contact us for a consultation today by calling 587-410-2500 and speak directly with an Edmonton divorce lawyer regarding your family law matter.

For more information, please contact Renn Spence, a Registered Collaborative Family Law Lawyer by clicking here or by calling Renn directly at 587-409-5064, email Renn@freedomlaw.ca

Renn Spence

*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.

What Is The Difference Between An Annulment and A Divorce

What Is The Difference Between An Annulment and A Divorce

What Is The Difference Between An Annulment and A Divorce

An annulment is a court order that is issued which states your marriage did not exist or was not valid. It’s different from a divorce because a divorce legally ends a valid marriage that existed previously. Whereas in an annulment – the marriage ends immediately.

If you are considering obtaining a marriage annulment in Alberta, you must know that it’s best to discuss this with a family lawyer that practices in Alberta. Annulments are not always issued and can only be done in certain circumstances. For example:

  • If your spouse was already married to another person when they entered marriage with you
  • You married your spouse under duress or if someone threatened you physically
  • You were intoxicated by either drugs or alcohol during your marriage ceremony
  • You perceived you were marrying someone when in fact they were someone else
  • If the person you marry is unable to consummate the marriage
  • If you were under the age of 18 when you got married and did not have your parent’s consent
  • In some cases a church or an authoritative religious body might grant an annulment which is different from a legal annulment
  • You and your spouse are too closely related
  • The essential formalities required to certify a marriage were not present during your marriage ceremony such as two witnesses

Legal Responsibilities Regarding Annulments

If you decide to pursue a marriage annulment – this does not mean that the individuals will not be regarded as spouses or parents under Alberta provincial laws. Both spouses can bring forth claims against one another on matters such as the division of property and assets, spousal support, child support or custody and guardianship matters. When the courts grant an annulment, they may also issue financial, distribution of property and custody Orders for both children and the other spouse. However, we strongly recommend you speak with an Edmonton divorce lawyer prior to making a decision as to whether you are better suited to end your marriage through an annulment or through a regular divorce.

Religious Annulments versus Legal Annulments

There are also differences on foreign annulments and religious annulments. For example, religious annulments do not legally unbind the marriage and are only valid within the religion itself. In Alberta and most other Canadian provinces – only a judge can legally declare an annulment between the spouses therefore you still need to go through legal channels to process your annulment, so it is considered valid within your legal jurisdiction.

We Can Help You With Your Annulment in Alberta

If you are still unsure of whether to pursue an annulment of marriage versus a divorce – we recommend you contact an Alberta based family lawyer who can help you with your family law proceedings. There are many advantages and disadvantages to both obtaining an annulment versus obtaining a divorce. Contact our law firm today and speak with an experienced divorce lawyer regarding your possible options and which avenue might be best suited to your unique and individual circumstance.

At Verhaeghe Law Office – our Edmonton family lawyers have helped numerous clients with their divorce proceedings and family law matters for many years. We take pride in the fact that we aim to resolve your family law disputes in a timely and cost-effective matter. Contact us for a consultation today by calling 587-410-2500 and speak directly with an Edmonton divorce lawyer regarding your family law matter.

*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 to your divorce and family law questions.

Pet Custody Disputes in Divorce Proceedings

Pet Custody Disputes in Divorce Proceedings

Pet Custody Disputes in Divorce Proceedings

Those of us who are lucky enough to own pets, understand how pets eventually become an integral part of the family unit where we can develop strong emotional attachments with them. But what happens to pets when couples decide to separate and/or divorce? Individuals who are either contemplating or are pursuing a divorce may be shocked to find out that governing family laws in Alberta regard pets as property. The Family Law Act entitles both spouses to equal rights when it comes to family property. This entitlement extends towards things such as land, shares, money, financial plans, partnership interests and more.

While there is no legislation that definitively governs the division of pets – the courts have witnessed an increasing trend where people see their pets as more than just a possession or property. The Province of Alberta’s Matrimonial Property Act allows the courts to decide how property is divided between divorcing spouses. When divorcing couples cannot agree on who claims custody or ownership of the pet(s) after a divorce, the courts will take numerous factors into consideration when deciding matters on pet custody disputes.

For example, the courts will consider things such as whether the pet was brought into the relationship prior to marriage where it may be considered as excluded property and will remain with the individual who originally purchased the pet. If, however the pet was purchased after marriage – the courts will look at things such as who paid for and contributed most to the care of the pet both financially and physically. In Telep v. Telep 2012 BCSC 2092 – both parties had two dogs. The judge ordered that both dogs be given to the husband because the judge believed the husband had a more of a sincere emotional attachment to the dogs. In both of these situations, the laws are not determinative and many of the factors that go into making a decision in these matters can be challenged.

The courts do recognize that under some circumstances, pets may be equivalent to children for certain couples. In situations such as this, the courts will either recommend joint custody or encourage both parties to come to an amicable solution on their own. The agreed upon solution may be in the form of a written agreement that satisfies both spouses and would include things such as visitation schedules and rules regarding how costs for pet care will be shared.

For example in Boulet v. Rushton 2014 NSSC 75 – the court dealt with the divorcing couple’s dogs by creating an access schedule that both spouses had to abide by. Boulet was considered the primary caregiver of the dogs and Rushton would have care of the dogs two days a week. The Court of Appeal has seen cases brought forth where couples disagreed with pet custody matters and this is something that can be very costly as well as avoidable. Having legal counsel on your side with respect to your divorce proceedings may help reduce or eliminate pet custody disputes before they even start.

What makes pet custody disputes rather challenging is that sometimes it is difficult for the courts to understand the emotional attachment humans can have with their pets. Furthermore, because there are no definitive rules when it comes to pet custody – the courts generally will recommend both parties come to an amicable solution on their own. That’s why we recommend seeking legal counsel if you and your partner/spouse cannot come to an agreed upon solution with respect to your pet(s).

If you find that you and your partner or spouse cannot come to an amicable solution on your own with respect to the custody of your pet(s) – we recommend you contact an Alberta based family lawyer who can help resolve your pet custody dispute amicably as well as timely.

At Verhaeghe Law Office – our Edmonton divorce lawyers have helped numerous clients who have been embattled in pet custody disputes. We understand that pets are considered family and will work towards an expeditious solution with respect to your pet custody dispute. Contact us for a consultation today by calling 587-410-2500 and speak directly with an Edmonton divorce lawyer regarding your pet custody dispute.

*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 to your divorce and family law questions.

New Potential Changes To Divorce Laws

Bill C-78 & How It Might Impact Divorce Law

New Potential Changes in Divorce Laws

In May 2018, Bill C-78 was introduced in the House of Commons. This Bill would represent significant changes to the divorce laws with a focus in avoiding drawn-out and expensive court battles. In divorces, many times it’s one party taking another to court, which already creates an adversarial situation. To add salt to the wound, the slowness of the courts drags the painful process out. This Bill attempts to streamline the process and reduce the frustration of both parties.

Proposed Changes

  1. The Bill would update some language to make it less adversarial. For instance, changing “custody” and “access” to “parenting orders” and “parenting time.”
  2. Another change would push lawyers and paralegals to encourage family-dispute resolution services rather than the court systems.
  3. This proposal would make it easier for people to collect support payments.
  4. Creating better criteria to help define the best interest of the child and establishing guidelines when one parent wants to relocate with a child.
  5. Finally, the proposed changes would give courts measures to address family violence.

The Best Interest of the Child

Currently, there is no federal guideline as to establishing the best interest of the child, which has led some law professionals to turn to the Children’s Law Reform Act. For instance, this Act replaced the terms “mother” and “father” with “parent.” Also, four people can agree, in writing, to be the parents of the child, among many other changes covered in the Children’s Law Reform Act.

Another aspect often overlooked when examining the best interest of the child is how one spouse supports the other parent's relationship with the child. This Bill would replace the existing “maximum contact” principle with “maximum parenting time.” What does that mean? It means courts must rule that a child should have as much time with each spouse as is consistent with the best interest of the child. The court must also consider each spouse’s willingness to support the development and maintenance of the child’s relationship with the other spouse.

Redefining Family Violence

Bill C-78 is attempting to define family violence as more than just physical violence, but also emotional and sexual violence as well. These additions give lawyers and mediators guidance by providing more factors to take into account when establishing a parenting plan. These plans outline how decisions about the child are made, how information is shared between parents, when each parent will spend time with the child, and how other parenting issues may be addressed.

Overall, many are lauding Bill C-78 as a step toward modernizing divorce laws throughout Canada. It would be the first such update in nearly 20 years with the proposal attempting to promote faster and lasting solutions regarding family law disputes.

At Verhaeghe Law Office, our team always stays up-to-date on the new family laws impacting our clients. If you need legal representation, give our team a call at 587-410-2500. We can help you.

The Right Custody Agreement for Your Child in Canada

The Right Custody Decision for Your Child

The Right Custody Decision for Your Child

When you’re going through a divorce, there are tons of issues to deal with. In addition to the practical issues surrounding the dissolution of marriage, there are emotional considerations that demand your attention. At some point, your mind must clear enough to consider the available custody options for your child and how to obtain the custody option you want. Your best bet for gaining custody of your child is to hire a lawyer who is well-versed in family law. The lawyers at Verhaeghe Law Office have extensive experience in Family Court and welcome you to call 587-410-2500 for a consultation.

How to Decide and How to Follow Through

Regardless of what YOU want, the most important consideration in deciding custody arrangements is the best interests of the child. Shifting gears from the division of assets to custody issues is very important. You know what you want, but what is best for your child? The first step is educating yourself on the types of custody that may be granted.

Types of Custody

  • Sole custody means that the child lives with one parent full time and that parent makes all of the decisions regarding the child’s life.
  • Joint custody is where the child lives primarily with one parent, but both parents cooperate to make major decisions regarding the child.
  • In split custody, one parent has full custody over some of the children, and the other parent has full custody over the other children.
  • In shared custody, both parents retain legal and physical custody of the children. The parents work together in all decision-making, and the children live in equal amounts of time with each parent.

Factors Affecting Custody Decisions

The Canadian courts will decide custody based on the best interest of the children. The judge will consider the parent-child relationships; parenting abilities; each parent’s mental, physical, and emotional health; the parents’ and child’s schedules; support systems; sibling issues; and, if over age 12, the child’s wishes.

For a moment, put aside the emotional factors driving you to seek custody. Think pragmatically about the situation. Do you work full time? Are you busy during non-working hours? Are you willing/able to change your schedule to meet the demands of children, including their sporting events, school extracurriculars, and more? Are you close to your children emotionally? Answer these questions honestly. It’s tough to do. You WANT to be with your child, but realistically, if you can’t/won’t change your lifestyle to allow for their needs to come first, are you really the best choice for sole custody?

Take a look at all of the custody options with your children in mind. Even if your divorce is acrimonious, you both probably want the best for your kids. Seeking custody just to take it from your spouse is not a good reason to do it. You never want your child to feel like they are just one more factor causing trouble between you.

If you’ve decided you want to pursue sole custody, behave appropriately. Build strong relationships with your children. Attend all school events and show interest in their activities. Be respectful of your spouse. Watch your behavior — behave as if the judge is watching you at all times — and be the best person you can be. Pay child support if ordered. Follow all rules set forth during the proceedings. Any evidence, including disparaging remarks on social media, angry phone calls, or inappropriate behavior, will likely come into play during the custody hearings.

Remember to put your children’s best interests first during your quest for custody. Consult one of the lawyers at Verhaeghe Law Office by calling 587-410-2500 today. We’ll help you do the right thing for you, your spouse, and your children.