Schedule An Appointment With Us 604-800-8853
Family Law Blog

Vancouver Family Law Blog

Family law: Bill C-78 passes, addresses relocation of children

One of the most difficult decisions for divorcing parents to make is whether relocating their children would be in the children's best interests. Family law in British Columbia can provide the guidance parents may be seeking when relocation is on the table. Things can become especially problematic when one parent wants to relocate with the children and the other is not in favour. 

Bill C-78, which recently passed through parliament without amendments, updates family and divorce laws so more disputes can be settled out of court. The bill also amends language that has to do with custody. This bill stipulates that the custodial parent or the one who makes major decisions must give 60 days notice to the other parent if he or she wants to relocate. The other parent has 30 days to review the request and to file a formal objection if he or she doesn't agree.

Wills and estates: Providing for those with special needs

Individuals planning their estates may have to take some special circumstances into consideration when doing so. When it comes to wills and estates in British Columbia, those who have beneficiaries with special needs must take particular care when fashioning estate planning documents. It may be that a loved one with special needs may need financial help long after a testator has died and a testator may wish to ensure that loved one is taken care of. 

A testator must also be careful that the family member's benefits aren't lost because of an inheritance, so often the best way of ensuring this is to set up what is known as a Henson trust. Most provinces will allow those who are receiving disability benefits to receive payments from third parties, which can be accomplished through a Henson trust. There are certain things to be taken into consideration when establishing such a trust: the age of the beneficiary, the value of the inheritance, the disability of the beneficiary and whether the beneficiary still wishes to receive disability benefits.

Neurosurgeon ordered to pay millions in high asset divorce

A neurosurgeon has been ordered by a Supreme Court judge to pay his former wife millions of dollars after a court found him guilty of hiding global assets during the divorce process. The British Columbia couple, who were involved in a high asset divorce two years ago and married in 1997, had a lot at stake financially. He has been told he must pay his former wife nearly $24 million.

The man apparently did not obey original court orders, nor the advice of his lawyer. He was also ordered to pay $612,000 to the daughter the couple share while she completes her university degree. The man transferred various assets into the names of other people in order to evade payment -- assets which were frozen by the court. 

Wills and estates planning for older, divorcing couples

Over the last few years, more senior couples have been divorcing. This has had implications on these couples' wills and estates plans. Even when British Columbia couples divorce, most will want to ensure they leave assets to loved ones, particularly any adult children they may share. If children are a part of a family business, estate planning in these instances, are particularly important. When it comes to the dynamics, the divorce part is easier than the estate planning part in a grey divorce scenario.

Property or land could come into play since a divorced couple can continue to own property together if they so choose. There is no cookie cutter mold in these instances. A divorcing or separating couple has to decide how their estate plans should look based on their individual situations. 

British Columbia family law: When is a spouse a spouse?

Canadian provinces have certain criteria for considering couples to be spouses. British Columbia family law states that unmarried couples must be living together for at least two years before they can make property or spousal support claims against each other if they decide to separate. Common law designations vary across the country and whether someone is looking to provincial or federal rules.

For instance, partners only need to be together for a year to take advantage of federal income tax relief. But what about when partners are in committed relationships, but don't actually live at the same residence 100% of the time? Can claims be made for spousal support? One Canadian judge ruled that maintaining separate residences does not prevent the finding of cohabitation in some cases and ruled that even though a couple in one case didn't live together, they should in fact be considered spouses because of the other factors in their relationship.

High asset divorce: Do trusts really protect property?

Family trust funds won't always be a protective measure for assets when a couple is separating or divorcing. A British Columbia resident who is embroiled in a high asset divorce situation may believe his or her assets that are sheltered in a family trust may not figure into a divorce settlement. Things can become even more problematic when there is no marriage contract in place.

When property is held in a trust, it is often the belief that it won't have to be shared with an estranged partner. In a recent case, a family court judge wanted to know if the property actually held in trust belonged to the husband for whom the trust fund was set up -- in other words, he was the beneficiary of the trust. But it was ruled that legal ownership belonged to the trustees of the trust who hold the property for the beneficiary. In this case, however, the husband was also one of the trustees and because of that he had to include the property as part of net family property.

Family law: Stepparents' rights in British Columbia

Stepparents usually develop nurturing, positive and loving relationships with their stepchildren. When a couple in a blended family divorces, it may be that stepparents wish to maintain those relationships with their stepkids, and family law in British Columbia paves the way for them to do so. If it is in the best interests of the children to continue having contact with their stepparents, there are a number of ways in which this can happen.

Biological parents who understand the importance their children have with a soon-to-be former spouse may be more open to discussing setting up a visitation schedule. If a decision is made, it can be included in a legally-binding agreement. There are self-help guides available in British Columbia to help couples in these situations and when a stepparent wishes to establish guardianship of a child, there are family law tools to help them in this regard as well.

British Columbia family law: Noncompliance with parenting orders

When a couple decides to separate they need to iron out details of what's what as they move forward separately. British Columbia family law paves the way for couples who are separating to fashion separation agreements that would legally indicate the particulars of the separation, including issues regarding children and could include agreements made about parenting. When one partners fails to follow what's in such an agreement, there are steps the other former spouse or parent can take to try to remedy the problem.

If a parent is not complying with a child support order, for example, British Columbia has a Family Maintenance Enforcement Program to launch an enforcement order for support. If, in fact, a parent isn't following a court order, he or she may suffer some consequences under the law. However, court should be a last resort and should only be considered when one parent constantly fails to follow an agreement or an order, when not following orders cause both the child and other parent inconvenience and cost or when the two parents can't agree on major issues when it comes to their kids -- even after the help of family law attorneys.

What does parental alienation look like?

Many parents struggle to adjust to parenting after divorce. However, some struggle more than others, especially in cases involving parental alienation.

As this article describes, parental alienation involves one parent's efforts to get a child to reject the other parent. In an effort to turn a child against a parent, the alienating parent may:

Businesses could be affected by high asset divorce situations

Business owners often have an added level of stress when it comes to divorce situations. Successful British Columbia entrepreneurs may be embroiled in high asset divorce cases and as such need to be aware of the tax implications, among other issues that could affect their businesses. Taking time to reflect on how a divorce will impact a business is crucial before moving forward formally with a divorce.

Even though it is easier to get out of a common law union than it is a marriage -- having been apart for 90 days -- it is still important to be mindful of the time when it comes to splitting business assets. There are many things with which a lawyer may be able to help such as capital gains exemptions, spousal rollovers, spousal attribution rules and the like. These are important issues following the end of a marriage or common law relationship.

Back to top

vancouver office
1367 West Broadway, Suite 504
Vancouver, BC V6H 4A7

Phone: 604-800-8853
Fax: 604-734-6366
Vancouver Law Office Map


See what’s currently happening in the law and with our firm. Read the latest posts on our Vancouver Family Law Blog!

Visit Our Blog

We Value Your Opinion

We strive to provide quality services to our clients and invite you to share your opinion of our legal services.

Review Us