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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.

Death and Debt: can I inherit money owed?

An unfortunate reality in today's Canadian society is the prevalence of debt. We want to own houses, cars, and justify credit card expenditures in the name of a quality lifestyle. Debt accumulates slowly but easily and we intend to one day pay it back, but what happens to that debt if we die unexpectedly?

Wills and estates: Simplifying the estate planning process

Writing an estate plan doesn't need to be difficult and won't be if some basic tenets are followed. Some British Columbia residents shy away from wills and estates planning because they view the process as being involved and time-consuming. However, there are a few essential guidelines that simplify creating a well-rounded estate plan, the first being having a will and ensuring that it is updated as life changes.

It is always best to plan for the unforeseen and part of that entails naming an individual to act on a power of attorney. One individual can be named or one to make health care decisions and one to take care of financial matters. When it comes to beneficiaries of an estate, they should always be kept current by the party designated to act as executor of the estate.

Family law: Helping kids through the stages of divorce

Divorce or separation doesn't affect children as a single event. Life changes that accompany parents' divorces have a waterfall effect on British Columbia kids' lives. Family law concerns itself with what is in the best interests of children, so giving parents the tools with which to help their children is one way parents can make sure their kids are moving forward positively in their new lives with different family dynamics.

The changes that accompany divorce can be handled by parents in a way that may actually benefit their children. When parents view their divorce or separation as moving forward in three stages -- before, during and after -- they can help their kids at each stage. It is in the third stage that most children will need help adjusting -- when they're most likely go between two different homes and not being with mom and dad at the same time. 

Wills and estates: What happens to kids when there's no will?

Many young parents today may not realize that part of loving their children entails planning for their care should something happen to them. When British Columbia parents are in their 20s and 30s, they rarely, if ever, think about will and estates. It could be a big mistake in more ways that one if they don't have estate plans in place – especially when it comes to their kids.

Dying intestate (without a will) means that the testator's assets will be divided according to the laws of the province or territory in which the testator lives. For those without a will who have minor children -- under the age of 18 -- any money in the estate will be held in trust for them by an administrator or a guardian. But what is most concerning is who will take care of those children if no guardian has been appointed to do so? If there is a surviving spouse, then he or she will become the guardian; if not, a court will decide who should look after them.

Family law: When 1 parent disagrees with child counselling

Children are often caught in the middle of their parents' divorces. Family law in British Columbia always puts the best interests of children first. And sometimes that might mean that children of divorce may need counselling to process the changes that are taking place in their lives. But what happens when one parent doesn't agree to those counselling sessions?

This could be a dicey situation since both parents typically must give their consent for their children to receive counselling. When parents can't work together to come to a decision about what would be best for their children, the consenting parent can try to obtain a court order that dispenses with the need for the dissenting parent's consent. The parent can try to achieve this order as either a protection order or as part of a parenting, custody or access order.

Do You Need to Be Mentally Competent to Get Married?

Nowadays, the prevalence of dementia and diseases such as Alzheimer's is high, and this can make people vulnerable to predatory marriages. Everyone should have the right to find happiness in marriage, but it's important to consider that marriage affects not only happiness, but also a person's children, property, finances, and wills.

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