Family Law

Division of Property

The breakdown of a relationship or marriage can have significant consequences for the parties involved, apart from the emotional consequences. The division of family property in family law court actions commenced after March 18, 2013, is governed by the Family Law Act, and previous decisions of the Court. The family home, bank accounts, RRSPs, pensions, and other property may be subject to division, as well as family debts. If you are planning to separate from your spouse, or if you have already separated, it is very important that you meet with a lawyer to find out what your rights are. Our family law lawyers at Hart Legal have a broad range of experience, from negotiating settlement agreements to assisting with mediations and proceeding to Court, we can advise you about your options and take steps to protect your interests.


The Family Law Act is changing the way that we address issues surrounding children by redefining the issues guardianship, custody and access, as parental responsibilities, parenting time and contact.  In all decisions regarding children, the Courts in British Columbia will look at the best interests of the child, which is what the parents are expected to do.  What does this mean for your family?  Our family law lawyers at Hart Legal will meet with you to formulate an appropriate strategy for your case that is tailored to your needs.  In issues involving children, the preference is usually to remain outside of the court process and consider alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, such as negotiation, mediation, collaborative family law, or family arbitration.  However, if there are legitimate safety concerns, then it may be necessary to act quickly and proceed to court in order to obtain an order with respect to the children, such as a restraining order, which our experienced family law lawyers are prepared to do.


Child Support

If, after separating, you have the primary responsibilities for your children, you are likely entitled to child support from your spouse.  The amount of child support will be determined by the Federal Child Support Guidelines.  Additionally, special expenses such as daycare, medical or dental expenses, and extraordinary extracurricular activity expenses should be shared with your spouse on a proportionate basis.  If you have questions about child support, our family law lawyers can assess your particular situation, advise whether your spouse should be paying child support to you, and take action to enforce your rights.


Common Law Couples

Under the Family Law Act, unmarried couples, both same-sex and opposite-sex, are defined as spouses if they live together in a marriage-like relationship for a continuous period of at least 2 years.  Under the Act, these common law spouses are given the same rights and responsibilities as married couples, unless they have a cohabitation agreement in place.  This is a big change to the law in British Columbia. 


Same-Sex Couples

Same-sex couples in British Columbia have the same rights and responsibilities as opposite-sex couples.  Same-sex partners who are married, or who have lived together for two or more years, are deemed to be spouses under the Family Law Act, which creates certain rights and responsibilities.

Same-sex marriage in British Columbia became legal on July 8, 2003, after a series of court rulings found that the restriction on same-sex marriages violated Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  On July 20, 2005, same-sex marriage across Canada was legalized when the Civil Marriage Act received Royal Assent.

Same-sex couples face the same difficulties (emotional, financial and practical)  as opposite-sex couples when separating.  If you have a same-sex partner and are seeking to separate, or would like to know what your rights are, make an appointment to speak with one of our family law lawyers.


Cohabitation Agreements

Is your girlfriend or boyfriend moving into your home?  Congratulations!  This is a big step in your relationship, both emotionally and legally.  Once you and your partner have lived together for at least 2 years, you will be deemed to be spouses under the Family Law Act, which means that you will have the same rights and responsibilities as a married couple unless you have an agreement in place. 

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