Divorce and separation, along with the possible breakup of a family, is one of the most stressful and challenging times in one’s life. What will happen to me, my spouse, my kids, or my property in the near future? How do we move forward once matters are finished and all issues are resolved? What are my rights and obligations? These questions can cause worry and a sense of helplessness.
At Laschuk Law, our approach is centered around clarity, respect and professionalism. We do all that we can to inform you and help guide you through this possibly turbulent period in an effective way that focuses on the big picture.
It is natural to worry about where you will live, how financial issues will play out, and what new parenting arrangements might look like. Laschuk Law aims to educate you about your rights and responsibilities, and clarify what your options are. We can help you navigate the paperwork and decisions involved in separation and divorce. The goal throughout is a positive resolution for you and your family.
Accordingly, negotiation and reasonable cooperation with the opposing party are the usual first objectives. Perhaps mediation, arbitration or some other ‘dispute resolution’ process will be appropriate. However, since not all situations call for (or even allow) friendly negotiation, I will take a harder stand or go to court to protect your interests if required.
Conflict of interest check
When you first make contact with LL as your potential legal representative, the Law Society of British Columbia requires us to do a “conflict check”. This ensures there is no conflict of interest relating to your case or the person you are dealing with in your dispute.
Before your initial consultation, we recommend that you thoroughly complete the questionnaire that we will send you. This will make our meeting more efficient; by answering those questions ahead of time, we already have the basic facts to help us lay out your options.
Bring any relevant court orders, pleadings or applications with you. Write down items that are a priority for you and bring the list.
Early in the process
Near the beginning, we will work together to craft a plan that helps to achieve your immediate needs and goals. We will gather information (facts) relevant to your situation, and then continue to plan and take all necessary steps until your matter is completed. My goal is to put you in the best position to move on with your life.
From the outset, I seek all appropriate disclosure from the other party to help achieve a fair and proper resolution of the issues. Because the “best interests of the children” are paramount in BC, expert reports may be needed to shed light on the issues of guardianship (custody) and parenting time (access), as well as parenting arrangements. In some cases, financial experts are needed to assist with business valuations, income determinations or asset appraisals.
Later in the process
Once proper disclosure and any necessary expert reports are obtained, the negotiation process may begin in earnest. In many cases, the parties through their lawyers negotiate a fair separation agreement which settles all issues between the parties. This may occur either with or without the benefit of one or more of the processes used, which include mediation, arbitration, parent coordination and court.
Court is a costly and high-stakes venue, and is often viewed as a “last resort” option. Sometimes however – such as where a person may be harmed or property may be disposed of – there is no other choice. This route is also fairly likely if, despite your best efforts, negotiation leaves some or all of the issues still standing. That said, starting a legal proceeding does not necessarily mean you will have to endure a trial in open court. Most cases in BC settle before that point. Negotiation and settlement efforts can and do continue throughout the court proceeding.
The court’s involvement will be needed if you require a divorce.
Ending your relationship through separation or divorce is one of life's most difficult and demanding experiences. Laschuk Law can help you whether your relationship is an opposite or same-sex one, and whether or not you are common law or married spouses.
Separation is a simple idea: you must simply start living "separate and apart" from one another, whether under the same roof or in separate homes. For married couples, separation indicates the initial breakdown of your relationship but does not release you from the bonds of your marriage. For unmarried couples, including those who qualify as “spouses” under the Family Law Act, separation is all that is needed to end your relationship.
The date of separation is important, since issues relating to limitation periods and the division of property/debt flow from that date. The law differs depending on if you are a married or unmarried couple. Speak to Laschuk Law for more details.
Divorce is the legal dissolution of a valid marriage. To obtain one, one spouse must sue the other in the Supreme Court, and at least one of you
must have been "ordinarily resident" in BC for the preceding year. There must be proof of a "breakdown of the marriage", which can include: living separate and apart for one year, adultery, or cruelty. These are normally straightforward, but sometimes they are not. Regardless, a court will need to make an order that you are divorced.
Contested vs Uncontested Divorce
Because you need a court order to get divorced, it is normal to start a proceeding asking the court for an order on all family law issues relevant to you. These could include orders relating to the care of children, the division of property and debt, and the payment of spousal and/or child support.
If you and your spouse can agree on virtually all of the issues between you, then you may file for what is known as an “Uncontested Divorce”. For you, this option is probably the least emotionally draining, as well as the most affordable. Provided you meet the basic requirements the law requires (e.g. one year of residency and proper proof of marriage breakdown), the court is likely to grant your divorce request.
If however you and your spouse continue to fight about custody, property or support issues, then you are on the track of a “Contested Divorce”. Though more costly, a trial is sometimes required if one spouse is being particularly unfair or unreasonable, and the situation calls for the finality of a court ruling.
Laschuk Law can help you with family law agreements of all kinds:
Separation Agreement – You’ve separated from your spouse? That’s unfortunate, but perhaps it was necessary to do. Whether you were married or unmarried, now is the time to consult a lawyer. Laschuk Law can help you negotiate a comprehensive agreement dealing fairly with all key issues between you: care of your children, the division of property and debt, the payment of child or spousal support, and more. The main benefit of this approach is that you (not a judge) have significant control of the process and the end result.
Cohabitation Agreement – You’re moving in together? You should know that once you and your boyfriend/girlfriend have lived together for 2 years or more, you will be deemed to be “spouses” under BC law. This means you will have many of the same rights and responsibilities as a married couple unless you have an agreement in place that helps define your arrangement on your own terms.
Prenuptial Agreement – You’re getting married? While most hope for a lifetime together, you may want to ensure that your rights and property are fully protected, if you and your spouse later split up.
Under BC law, spouses generally keep the property that each of them brought into the relationship and share in the things they obtained during their relationship. The same holds true for debt.
Laschuk Law will guide you through the process of valuing your property and identifying which assets and liabilities are most likely to be deemed “included” and “excluded”, for the purposes of dividing your property/debt .
Demanding full financial disclosure, and taking steps where there are shortcomings, Laschuk Law ensures that otherwise divisible family property is not hidden or disposed of. This is a key part of how we help you achieve a fair result.
BC family property division can be obtained either through negotiated agreement or the courts. We will steer you towards the most appropriate path for your unique needs and circumstances.
The issue of spousal support raises three questions: (1) are you entitled to claim (or obliged to pay) it; (2) what is the proper amount; and (3) how long should it be paid for?
Generally, an order or agreement calling for the payment of spousal support is proper where: 1) one spouse has suffered economic loss or hardship due to decisions made during the relationship or its end; 2) a contract exists between the spouses requiring spousal support to be paid; or 3) one spouse is in financial need after separation and the other spouse is able to pay from his/her disposable income.
The questions of ‘how much’ and ‘for how long’ are complex, depend on whether you have children or not, and are best determined after we consider your unique facts. Whether you need support or are facing a request for support, Laschuk Law can help you understand your rights and obligations, as well as your options.
If, after separating, you are the primary parent of and caregiver for your children, you most likely are entitled to receive child support from your spouse. Conversely, if you are not the main care giver after separation, you will likely have to pay towards the support of your child(ren).
The amount will be determined by reference to the federal Child Support Guidelines. Generally, relevant factors include the income of the paying parent and the number of children. ‘Special expenses’ such as day care, medical or dental bills and ‘extraordinary expenses’ like private school first must be identified and then, if they qualify, are often shared with your spouse in the same proportion as your incomes.
There are a number of exceptions to the general rule outlined above. Laschuk Law will help you pay or receive a fair and proper amount of child support.
Central to many family law disputes is determining who the children should live and spend time with, how they will be raised, and who will be responsible for important decisions affecting their lives.
The federal Divorce Act speaks of ‘custody’ and ‘access’ when dealing with this issue. Recently-enacted BC law speaks of ‘guardianship’, ‘parental responsibilities’ and ‘parenting time’. Both sets of law emphasize “the best interests of the children”.
Consult with Laschuk Law to see what your rights, obligations and privileges may be, when viewed through the lens of what is best for your child(ren).
Sometimes, people can be threatened or attacked. The same goes for property, which can be unfairly disposed of or dissipated. In either case, if you fear for the safety of a person or of an asset, there are immediate steps that can be taken in the form of a protection order.
Laschuk Law will listen with sensitivity and work zealously to protect you, your loved ones, or your property.
Laschuk Law has joined the Delta Law Office at #105 - 1077 56th Street, Tsawwassen