The Divorce Act refers to Access to your children when the other parent has primary residence of the children. However, if you were never married, then your interests are not set out under the Divorce Act, but under provincial legislation. Under provincial legislation, they use the term Parenting time (not Access).
A Grandparent does not need to have the court’s approval. A Grandparent can apply directly for Contact with their grandchild under two circumstances if the parents are living separate and apart or one of the parents is deceased, and this has caused a disruption in the grandparents’ time with the children.
I would be happy to answer all of your questions and help you with your consideration of filing an application for Contact. I assist clients in Okotoks, Black Diamond, Turner Valley, High River, the Foothills, Calgary and surrounding areas. I am also mobile and can travel to you, with evening and weekend appointment times available upon request.
Sometimes the well-being of the children is the last thing on the minds of parents going through separation or divorce. It is an unfortunate circumstance that happens when two adults are embroiled in what can be a very emotional and distraught upheaval to their lives and routine. Sometimes, it is a situation where one parent cannot understand the harm or potential harm they are doing to the children. And this harm can be created by simply demanding or wanting custody and access provisions to be different.
Calculation of child support requires a few steps. Firstly, it must be determined what each parent’s income is. Sometimes this is straight-forward, like when they work as an employee and have a set salary, sometimes it is more difficult to demine, like when they operate their own business.
Secondly, the Federal Child Support Guidelines (FCSG) are used to determine the monthly amount of child support based on that income and the number of children. Child support is paid to a parent according to the FCSG only if that parent has primary residence. This is referred to as Base Child Support, the Table Amount or Section 3 child support.
Child Welfare / Child Protection
At times, the Province will intervene and apprehend children who they feel are in need of protection. When this happens, parents often do not understand the process or what they must do to ensure their children return to their care. I provide advice and assistance to those going through this process, while trying to obtain the best possible solution for the parents as well as the children.
I also am on the SAY (Specialize Advocacy for Youth) roster (which is operated through the Legal Representation of Children and Youth – LRCY). I represent children from as young as babies to teenagers.
Whether you are currently living together or planning on living together, it is strongly recommended that you set out rules dealing with property and liabilities in the remote possibility the relationship ends. The Agreement can be as specific or as general as you desire, it can be as creative or as standard as you wish. You can set out who is entitled to what property or what percentage of what property; which debts one or the other party is solely liable for and which are joint debts; what is joint property; and, you can even set out what monthly expenses each will pay during the relationship.
I am fully trained in and experienced in Collaborative Law. The Collaborative Law method works best when both parties are willing to be open and honest and are willing to engage in a joint conversation regarding the division of property, parenting of children and support. The joint conversation involves joint problem-solving and joint brainstorming options to come to an agreement. Each lawyer in the Collaborative Law still advocates and fights on behalf of their client, although it is not in the same divisive and confrontational manner as court litigation.
If only one parent or legal guardian is accompanying a minor child on a trip outside of Canada it has become increasingly required that they have written permission to do so. Even if both parents are not living separate, if they are traveling alone or at different times, the parent that takes the child across the border should have written permission from the other parent. This applies whether you are driving or flying.
Alberta has legislation that allows a person to apply for and obtain a court order (provided all circumstances are appropriate) to have access to children. There must be prior court approval for the application where the court will determine the relationship and the necessity of having that contact. When a person other than a guardian applies to have time with a child, it is referred to as Contact.
A Grandparent can apply directly for Contact with their grandchild under two circumstances if the parents are living separate and apart or one of the parents is deceased, and this has caused a disruption in the grandparents time with the children.
The Divorce Act refers to Custody of the children in two respects. Firstly, Custody refers to who has a primary residence and day-to-day care and control of the children. Secondly, Custody refers to who has decision-making authority. You can have Sole Custody or Joint Custody. Sole means that only you get to make major decisions affecting the children, such as medical, educational, religion. Joint custody means that both parents share decision-making authority over the children.
Once all the matter of parenting, support, children and property have been satisfactorily resolved, you can apply to the court to finalize the Divorce Judgment. This is the preferred method of proceeding to a divorce is to work out all the details in an Agreement, and then sue the Agreement as the terms of the Divorce. However, if the details are not being worked out in a timely manner and you have an urgent need to finalize the Divorce Judgment, the courts may consider your unique circumstances and allow you to have a Divorce Judgment prior to finalizing the issues.
Guardianship of Children
There are many circumstances when one parent may not be a recognized guardian of their own children. Or when, a grandparent or other family member needs to be involved in the life of a child. We can meet with you, and discuss your particular circumstance and let you know what your best options are.
To be named a legal guardian can take on many different forms. You can share some or all or none of the decision-making. You can have access to medical and school records, and be able to give permission for medical procedures. You may or may not have the child living with you, it is not required that the child reside with you for you to have legal guardianship rights.
Most lawyers will advise clients that Court should always be the last resort. When direct negotiations are not likely to succeed, one alternative is Mediation.
A mediator is an independent, specially trained facilitator. He or she controls the communication between the parties so that all conversation is directed towards solutions to the issues. Mediation can occur between the parties alone or the parties can bring their counsel to have lawyer-assisted mediation. Parties can agree to mediate one or two specific issues, or any number of outstanding matters. The mediator’s role is to facilitate the dialogue between the parties, and to assist the parties in reaching their own resolutions. The mediator will never impose a solution.
A Parenting Plan is an agreement that sets out which times each parent has with the children. It can be as specific or as general as your needs require. You can have very rigid, set-in-stone dates and times, or it can be a combination of set date and times and open flexibility for added times.
Whether you are currently married or planning being married, it is strongly recommended that you set out rules dealing with property and liabilities in the remote possibility the relationship ends. The Agreement can be as specific or as general as you desire, it can be as creative or as standard as you wish. You can set out who is entitled to what property or what percentage of what property; which debts one or the other party is solely liable for and which are joint debts; what is joint property; and, you can even set out what monthly expenses each will pay during the relationship.
There is provincial legislation (Matrimonial Property Act, Alberta) that addresses how matrimonial property should be divided upon separation or divorce for a married couple. If you are not legally married, the Act does not apply to you.
There are as many ways to divide property as they are couples wishing to do so. Your rights and obligations as set out in the Act is a very good starting place for determining how you want to divide property. However, each property settlement can be as unique as your circumstances. Even when the basic principles of the Act are adhered to, I can show you different ways for you achieve the same result, and ways that may be easier to implement, or may protect you better.
In Alberta there is no legislation that dictates how property should be divided after a common-awl relationship ends. The principles of property division after a common law relationship have been developed by the courts over a number of years. There are several factors that have to be considered and each relationship has its own unique set of circumstances to look at.
There are as many ways to divide property as they are couples wishing to do so. Your rights and obligations is a very good starting place for determining how you want to divide property. However, each property settlement can be as unique as your circumstances. Even when the basic principles of the common-law are adhered to, I can show you different ways for you achieve the same result, and ways that may be easier to implement, or may protect you better.
Sometimes relationships end with a high amount of emotion and volatility. This is very unfortunate, but if you have been harmed, or if you believe that you, your children or your property may be harmed or are being threatened, then you should first call the police. I can help protect you and your property by obtaining a restraining order through the courts that sets boundaries on what the other person can and cannot do. Primarily, it sets out that they cannot communicate with you directly or indirectly and they cannot be anywhere near you wherever you are and never near your home regardless of whether you are home or not. It is important that you act quickly, or you may lose credibility and entitlement to the restraining order. Conversely, if you have been falsely accused of making threats or committing harm, I can assist you in fighting the allegations in the restraining order.
Separation Agreements / Divorce, Parenting, Support and Property Agreements
When a relationship ends there are often issues over how to divide property (and debts) between the parties. It is important to note that rights to property exist even if the couple was not married, although those rights are governed by a different set of rules. How the property is to be divided and in what percentages depends upon the specific circumstances of the case. Each province also has a different set of laws that are applied as matrimonial property and common-law property division, are under provincial jurisdiction.
In Alberta each party requires their own lawyer to give them independent legal advice and to sign the Agreement with them. This is necessary for the agreement to be binding. It is therefore important to seek the advice of a lawyer whether or not you have an amicable separation or not. Even if you and your spouse have agreed to everything, if you do not get it in a written, binding Agreement with lawyers, either you or your spouse may come back years later and claim it was an unfair Agreement. It is very important for your future peace of mind to have the property division done correctly and binding, so that both you and your former spouse can move forward.
Whether you have been married or living common law, as a spouse you have the right to apply for spousal support. However, it is a two step process. Firstly, it must be determined if you are entitled to spousal support. Secondly, it must be determined how much spousal support and for how long spousal support should be payable for. These are decided on an analysis of the circumstances of your marriage/relationship and its breakdown.