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Consider retirement when going through divorce, property division

To sustain their lifestyle after retirement, many high net worth couples invest large amounts of money throughout their lives. But what happens to British Columbia couples who divorce prior to or during retirement? The property division process can take a major toll on retirement plans. This is an important subject as more Canadians face retirement as singles than ever before.

Statistics Canada reports that there are more one-person households than ever before in the nation's history. In 2016, 28.2 per cent of households were occupied by a single resident. These trends have been traced back to multiple factors, including income redistribution, pensions and women in the workforce. It also is related to higher divorce rates among the older population.

Family law says child support may be owed after age 18

Child support is a topic that comes up in many divorces across the country. Many British Columbia parents who pay child support may think that their payments will end once children turn 18. However, federal and provincial family law may require some parents to continue their support after the child is a legal adult, especially if post-secondary education is involved.

The definition of "child of the marriage" under the Divorce Act defines the obligations separated parents have with regards to their adult children. This means that a British Columbia judge can step in to resolve issues such as the length of time a child should receive support. If a child is still in school or otherwise unable to care for him or herself, the judge can find that support is still warranted.

Early conversations about property division can protect assets

Many people only consider protecting their assets from a partner when marriage comes up. However, as an increasing number of Canadians opt for common-law relationships, steps like moving in with a partner should be given the same careful consideration. In British Columbia, those who have earned or inherited assets should know about the laws governing property division and take steps to protect themselves in the case of a break-up.

Statistics from Mortgage Professionals Canada show that an increasing number of parents are contributing to down payments for their children. In fact, gifts towards a home have doubled since 2000. With 48 per cent of marriages ending in divorce, parents and their children are right to consider the dissolution of a relationship will affect assets an individual obtained prior to his or her relationships.

How pre-nuptial agreements define potential property division

Those who have their own assets before entering a marriage or co-habitation situation may wish to take steps to protect themselves. A pre-nuptial agreement is one option many British Columbia couples can consider to protect their interests in case of any future need for property division. While these can be controversial for some couples, these documents can help lay a foundation for a relationship by clarifying goals and expectations.

A pre-nuptial agreement can define a number of things, including how assets will be divided in case of separation and what should happen if one partner should die while together. This can help to define what will be kept separate and what will be combined during a relationship. For example, a person with shares in a family enterprise may choose to keep this separate from the spouse while sharing the marital home. People may also wish for a partner to have a access to half of their assets if they die but far less if a break-up led to property division.

Family law ruling: Man owes over $500k in child support

In child support cases, staying up to date and honest about changes in one's financial situation are important to maintaining an agreement. A British Columbia man learned this the hard way when a court ordered that he pay over $522,000 in child support after providing misleading financial information to his ex-wife or the courts. Under provincial family law, income is an important factor in deciding how much will be given during a child support agreement.

In 2003, the British Columbia couple agreed that the man would pay $1,182 in child support each month. He also agreed to pay $372 for the children's transportation costs. This was based on the understanding that his baseline income was $90,511. Later, this amount was raised to $1,600 per month.

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. 

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