Safety First
If you are subject to family violence, whether physical, sexual, emotional, psychological or financial – it is never okay. If you are in immediate danger, call the police right away – 911. When the danger is not immediate, help is available through VicimLinkBC. It is a toll-free, confidential, multilingual telephone service available across BC, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at 1-800-563-0808. It provides information and referral services to victims of family violence and other crimes.

A family law lawyer at Heritage Law may also help. If you are at risk of family violence by someone you are or were married to, or by someone you live or lived with, in a marriage-like relationship, we can help you apply for a family law protection order.

It is important to inform your lawyer about any family violence you have experienced even if you don’t think you need a protection order. Certain types of negotiations are not advisable under these circumstances.

Second Chances
The Family Law Act requires lawyers to ask their clients if there is any possibility of reconciliation. If you think you and your spouse can get through the rough patch with some help, your family doctor or a family law lawyer at Heritage Law may be able to recommend a trusted couples’ counsellor.

The date at which you start living separately is a factor in determining the division of family property and family debts. If within a year of living separately, you decide to give it another go and live together for at least 90 days, the clock re-sets and you are no longer considered to be living separately

Should-a Put a Ring on it?
Whether or not you were legally married, according to the Family Law Act, if you were living together in a marriage-like relationship continuously for two years, you are legally considered a spouse. Even if you did not live together for a full two years, but you had a child with the person you were living with, you are also considered a spouse. A family law lawyer at Heritage Law can advise you about the rights a spouse has under the law.

What about the kids!
Ending a relationship when children are involved is one of the most difficult experiences a family has to endure. The Family Law Act requires all decisions with regards to guardianship, parenting responsibilities and parenting time must be made with the best interest of the child/children in mind.

Generally, with the help of a family law lawyer, parents will come to an agreement as to a parenting schedule. The following are two examples of parenting schedules often used for younger children where parenting time is equally divided between a Mum and Dad:
a. 3344 Rotation

Week Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat Sun
1 Dad Dad Dad Mum Mum Mum Dad
2 Dad Dad Dad Mum Mum Mum Mum

b. 223 Rotation

Week Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat Sun
1 Dad Dad Mum Mum Dad Dad Dad
2 Mum Mum Dad Dad Mum Mum Mum

Once children are older and more independent, some parents may opt for an alternating weekly schedule such as:

Week Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat Sun
1 Dad Dad Dad Dad Dad Dad Mum
2 Mum Mum Mum Mum Mum Mum Dad

Of course, the schedules can be customized based on work schedules, children’s activities and preferences of the parents.

All About the Money
There are four parts to the post-separation financial landscape: child support, spousal support, family property and family debt. Child support is a right of the child for as long as they are a child. The amount of child support is determined by a formula based on factors including the income of each parent and how much time the child spends with each parent.

The amount and duration of spousal support is determined by factors including how long a couple lived together, each spouse’s income, functions performed by each spouse during the relationship, any economic hardship, and self-sufficiency.

Family property and family debt are generally divided equally. If a spouse brought an asset into the relationship and has documented evidence of this, it may be excluded from the division. Any growth of the value of the asset during the relationship however, may be divisible. Other exceptions exist and a family law lawyer will be able to assist you in this regard.

In order to make determinations for support and property division, your family law lawyer will need a considerable amount of detailed financial information. She may ask for three years of T1 tax returns and Notices of Assessments, your most recent pay stub, balances in all your bank accounts, RRSPs etc. She may also need a statement of all assets and debts including a recent property assessment value of any property you own. The process to determine the post separation financial picture can range from being fairly simple to extremely complex.

The Right Legal Support for You
There are two predominant legal avenues available to resolving the breakdown of your family relationship: litigation and alternative dispute resolution (ADR). Many people think immediately of going to court to resolve a legal issue, however, over 90% of family law cases are resolved without ever stepping into a court room. ADR includes processes such as negotiation, mediation or arbitration. The lawyers at Heritage Law are experienced in the many processes of Family Law and are here to assist in resolving the difficult legal issues that arise on separation and help you to move forward.