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New Westminster BC Family Law Blog

Even using collaborative law may not be enough to save the house

The real estate market in British Columbia inflated beyond anyone's expectations recently, and home values are at historic highs. For some homeowners, it's like a dream come true. For those men and women going through a divorce, however, it may not be such good news. Even in a non-confrontational divorce using collaborative law, it might not be possible to hang on to the marital home.

When two people divorce in BC, they split their assets evenly. This includes the value of the family home. In order for one person to keep the home, either that person must buy out the other person's share, or the other person receives equal value in additional assets. If the home is worth far more than it once was, however, neither of these scenarios may be possible.

Effective co-parenting can begin with a collaborative law divorce

The dream for many men and women in British Columbia is to marry, raise children and live happily ever after with their family. For some, however, the dream does not last. A divorce may mean the end of the family unit as it was, but it doesn't have to mean the end of good child rearing or a positive family dynamic. By starting from a nonconfrontational position, perhaps through a collaborative law approach to the divorce, parents can build a new family based on cooperation, and placing the child's needs first.

A family in the United States gained a measure of fame recently from a family photograph that went viral. The picture shows a little girl in her soccer uniform flanked by four adults. All five are wearing the same number, but the adults each have something extra on their shirts. Instead of a surname on the back, one shirt spells out "Mommy," another says, "Daddy," and the group is completed with, "Step Dad" and "Step Mom." 

Staving off financial trouble through collaborative law

It is no secret that life after divorce is entirely different than it was before. Many people are not fully prepared for the challenges their new lives will bring, however. A recent study shows divorce can strain finances to the breaking point. For some men and women in British Columbia, collaborative law may hold some of the keys to a solution. 

A survey conducted in Ontario asked insolvent men and women to name the major contributing factors to their financial troubles. One of the main causes cited was divorce. It was most prevalent among those aged 40 to 49; 20 percent of people in this age bracket called it a major contributor to their insolvency. Divorce is not typically the sole cause of a financial collapse, but it can bring down an already rickety fiscal structure.

During mediation of parenting plans, consider the children first

When two people choose to get a divorce, it often means something has gone wrong in their marriage. Perhaps it was the result of a catastrophic confrontation, or maybe it was the accumulation of little problems that brought about the end. Either way, those two people now have a lot of work ahead of them as they end their marriage and begin new lives. If they can set aside their differences and work together, their divorce may not be as bad as it could be. Mediation offers a perfect opportunity for ex-spouses to settle matters amicably, and is an especially great route for divorcing parents in British Columbia to take.

In most cases, parents will continue to be connected through their children, and will need to see each other and raise children in harmony. Beginning with mediation is the perfect way to start. When parents create a parenting plan, they must make the best interests of the child their primary concern. The same is true if the issue goes to court; a judge will base his decision on the child's best interests.

Unmanageable support settlement makes case for collaborative law

Settling any aspect of a divorce in a British Columbia court adds an unwelcome degree of uncertainty. Once a judge has made a ruling, it can be very difficult to make any adjustments. One unfortunate father found this out after choosing to represent himself during a support hearing. Had there been an opportunity to try collaborative law, the outcome may have been better, but as it was, the final ruling drastically changed his life.

A man and woman divorced and went to court to settle the matters of child and spousal support in June 2012. The man worked as a flooring salesperson at a company of which he formerly owned half. In his ruling, the judge determined the man was performing the same functions as before, but deliberately chose to earn less money. As such, an imputed salary was the basis for the awards for child and spousal support.

Consider mediation for a civilized divorce in BC

Many people go into a divorce with bitter feelings, and that is entirely understandable. One spouse may feel animosity toward the other, or possibly anger and resentment. However, it may still be preferable to take a more civilized approach during the divorce than doing battle in court. Mediation allows both parties to work out their settlement issues in a non-confrontational setting. The following story provides an example -- albeit an extreme one -- of what malicious litigation can do to some people.

A man and woman in British Columbia divorced several years ago. The pair had two daughters, and the mother was awarded child support. Around that time, the man's business began to fall apart, and he eventually went bankrupt. Although he tried to make support payments, they weren't always enough, and while he begged the court to reduce the amount, his wife demanded he pay up, and she requested a $10,000 fine for contempt of court. She also accused him of assault -- a crime for which he was arrested but of which he was acquitted. 

Taking advantage of collaborative law may have helped single mom

A popular phrase holds that he (or she) who hesitates is lost. The opportunity to negotiate a family law settlement might also be lost if one doesn't seize the moment at the right time. A single mom in British Columbia may never know if she missed her chance to try to win child support years ago through collaborative law, or other means, after a recent effort came up short.

Eight years ago, a husband and wife in Ontario welcomed a son into their lives, after three years of marriage. During 2012, the couple separated for undisclosed reasons, but the following year a DNA test revealed the child was not the husband's own. During a divorce hearing in 2014, the mother admitted the boy was not his.

Using collaborative law techniques might save money

A divorce in British Columbia is not unusual. In fact, around 40 percent of all marriages in this country end in divorce. However, the specifics of each divorce are unique, because no two marriages are exactly the same. That being the case, there is more than one way for a divorce to proceed. For those who can, using collaborative law instead of litigation might be a time and money saver.

Time spent in a courtroom can become expensive. Not everyone can avoid it, but those who can may find they have saved money and frustration. By working together, two spouses may be able to sort out issues like asset division more quickly and with a more satisfactory result than might come out of a judge's ruling.

Will a collaborative law agreement preclude later actions?

Some British Columbia couples that choose to end their marriage will separate, but not get divorced right away. In many cases, creating a separation agreement, often via collaborative law, is enough to satisfy both parties. The question some people may be asking, however, is whether the agreement could be challenged or upset at a later date, particularly if one party chooses to file for divorce.

A separation agreement, made in consultation with legal professionals, is a great way for two people to arrange life after marriage. Matters such as child support and asset division can be laid to rest by this type of document. This allows a couple to split, secure in the knowledge they have a binding agreement to refer to in case a dispute should arise.

Collaborative law does not guarantee on-time support payments

Whatever a divorced couple's feelings may be for each other, if they have children, they are still obligated to maintain the welfare of the kids. For the non-custodial parent, this may be limited to simple financial support, but once ordered by a British Columbia court, it is still an obligation. Even parents who arrived at a settlement arrangement using collaborative law may find problems arising in the future.

Canadian television personality Mary-Jo Eustace and her ex-husband, actor Dean McDermott, divorced in 2006. The two have a son together who is now 18 years old. According to Eustace, McDermott has repeatedly defaulted on his child support payments, prompting her to sue him for the amount he owes.