Westside Family Law

A full-service family law firm serving West Vancouver and the surrounding areas


Vancouver Family Law Blog

Family law: determining the best child custody agreement

Child custody can be one of the most contentious parts of any divorce. Some British Columbia residents have experience in negotiating the best living situation for the children of divorced parents. Family law experts have specific opinions on what situation might be best, though of course this may not work for every family going through a divorce. 

For children of preschool age, many family law experts suggest that living predominantly with only one parent following a separation could have negative impact on the children. A study conducted by Uppsala University suggests that parents who split custody evenly between the two households may have a positive effect on their children. Families polled for this study recounted that children who spend equal time with both parents exhibit fewer behavioural problems than those who spend a majority of their time with one parent. 

What is a "matrimonial home" in property division law?

Many people understand the "matrimonial home" as a house inhabited by a couple. However, depending on the area where a couple lives, family law may have a different take on such property. Divorcing couples in British Columbia should know how family law regards the matrimonial home in order to properly address it in property division.

A matrimonial home does not have to be just one house. In fact, all property that could be considered a family residence can be considered a matrimonial home. This can include vacation properties, extra condominiums, or even a boat with sleeping and eating quarters. However, in order for these properties to be considered a matrimonial home in the case of property division, the property must be "ordinarily occupied." 

How family law handles pet ownership

Many people identify as animal lovers, and households across Canada often include one or more pets. Many British Columbia residents facing divorce, however, are obviously concerned about the specifics of pet custody in the event of a divorce. Family law handles this issue in a variety of ways, depending on the unique specifics of the given divorce.

Technically speaking, pets are still considered property with a monetary value associated with them. While some courts are becoming open to the idea of pet custody agreements that share some similarities with child custody agreements, this is by no means the norm. A pet is an asset, and generally the same rules apply to them as to any non-living asset like a home or a car.

Family law experts weigh in on divorce myths

Divorce is common in the modern Canadian landscape, with an estimated 50 percent of marriages ending in a permanent separation. However, British Columbia residents may not have the full story when it comes to how family law handles the end of a marriage. Misinformation about divorce abounds, and there are many myths that people can fall prey to that may adversely affect how they choose to handle their own divorce. 

Some people choose to stay in unhealthy, unhappy marriages because the prospect of going to court is simply too daunting. However, divorce does not need to be litigated before a court, and in many cases it is not. Couples who can come to a mutual understanding and are relatively amicable about their separation have other options available to them, including mediation. Even when documents are sent to the court for approval, there may be no reason for either party to attend. 

Mediation vs. divorce in family law

Divorces are as unique from one another as the spouses they involve, and as a result, no two divorces can be handled exactly the same way. For some British Columbia residents, the prospect of mediation is a preferable family law solution, as it can be less expensive and adversarial than a traditional court-based divorce. But for some people, a relationship may simply be too contentious for mediation to be a viable option. When determining best steps for a divorce, it is important for both parties to have an honest accounting of which option will work best for them. 

From the start, mediation requires a certain base level of understanding between the two spouses. Ultimately, it requires both parties to be willing to hear the other's side and work cooperatively to come to decisions that are best for both individuals. Of course, in some cases, there is simply too much "bad blood" on one or both sides for this to be a viable solution. 

B.C. family law: A parenting plan can help in divorce situations

Psychologists, social workers and other counsellors have agreed that divorce has one of the most stressful impacts on families and especially on children. British Columbia family law gives parents choices when it comes to parenting their children as separate individuals. One of the best ways to co-parent as a divorced couple is by having a parenting plan. 

Separating parents in British Columbia must take a Parenting After Separation (PAS) course before their divorce is heard in the courts. A lawyer experienced in family law will provide guidance and supply information regarding working with a licensed family mediator. Children will experience many emotions when their parents are divorcing and it's important for parents to be attuned to those emotions so they can help their children through them together and separately. 

Family law alternatives to traditional divorce

Traditional divorce has become well-known through popular culture and through the fact that nearly half of all marriages reportedly do not last. British Columbia residents are well-versed in how expensive and emotionally exhausting divorces are portrayed in the media. However, it may not be common knowledge that family law offers alternatives through this sort of traditional end of a marriage.

One such option is divorce arbitration. In arbitration, divorcing couples are not tied inextricably to the processes of a courtroom divorce, instead retaining more control over how the divorce will unfold. While the support of experienced divorce attorneys representing each spouse is still vital to the success of the proceedings, arbitration can help to limit expenses and allow parents to support children through a challenging emotional period.

Family law: Understanding costs important in divorce

It is no secret that divorce can be emotionally and financially challenging for both parties. Family law issues that are a catalyst for divorce proceedings involve more than just money. Nevertheless, the process is generally more difficult for those British Columbia residents who are unprepared to deal with the financial issues that arise when a marriage ends. 

The less one knows about personal and familial finances, the more difficult it can be to be prepared for a divorce. In many marriages, one spouse is less involved in the day-to-day finances of the family than the other one. This can set the stage for potential pitfalls once the divorce process is underway. 

Family law: Financial mistakes to avoid in divorce

Preparing for a divorce is one of the great unspoken challenges involved in ending a marriage. However, many family law experts both here in British Columbia and elsewhere advise individuals considering divorce to prepare in advance of filing papers with a court. There are several mistakes that can be made during this period that could have long-term effects on both spouses moving forward into the divorce process. 

One of the most important parts of handling a divorce is to be financially prepared. Some divorces can become costly, depending on the specifics of the individual case, but in all cases, setting up a scenario in which one party is not wholly financially tied to the other is an important starting point. Opening individual bank accounts and monitoring credit ratings are both vital to ensuring a strong credit rating and the security of a spouse's funds prior to starting the divorce process. 

Family law: Misconceptions regarding divorce

The modern era has brought with it a wealth of information on every conceivable topic, thanks to the internet. However, as British Columbia residents understand, not all of this information is reliable, particularly when it pertains to family law. This is why it is so helpful to have the support of a savvy attorney when approaching divorce proceedings -- the more misinformation that can be avoided, the easier the process will become. 

It is important to note that child custody law is not necessarily handled the same way from province to province. In fact, many of the laws governing the particulars of divorce can be different depending on where the couple lives. An understanding of provincial law as it pertains to legal separation is a key part of any divorce strategy.

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