Posts tagged divorce
Hot off the press: Living Together or Living Apart

Living Together or Living Apart: Common-Law Relationships, Marriage, Separation, and Divorce is back in print!

We’ve revised and updated the English version of our popular, award-winning booklet Living Together or Living Apart. This booklet explains the basics of family law in BC. It includes information about:

  • your rights and responsibilities if you’re married or in a marriage-like relationship,
  • how spouses can work out agreements,
  • what to do if you decide to separate or divorce,
  • how to work out arrangements for parenting if you have children, and
  • how to sort out money matters.

Family law can be complicated. But with the right information and help, you can solve many issues on your own without going to court. This booklet explains your legal options and where to get help. It also includes a chapter for Aboriginal families and a chapter for immigrant families.

Order copies from Crown Publications or download the PDF. Available in print and online.

Hot Off the Press — Coping with Separation Handbook
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After releasing our online Coping with Separation Handbook, we received many requests to also publish a print version. We’ve now made it available in print and online. The handbook is for spouses (married or living in a marriage-like relationship) who are dealing with the emotional aspects of separating.

It was developed as a help tool for the Make a separation plan pathway and Dialogue Tool in the MyLawBC website. Statistics show that one-third of Canadians, or 40 percent of British Columbians, have separated from their spouses.

Using engaging, colourful illustrations, the handbook describes the emotional stages of separation and ways to cope. It includes:

  • a checklist to recognize symptoms of stress,
  • suggestions to reduce your anxiety about the court process,
  • ways to reduce conflict with your spouse,
  • how to communicate with your spouse as you make decisions, and
  • general tips to follow during the short and long term.

There’s also a section on how to help your children cope with their emotions, along with some do’s and don’ts for communicating with your children.

The last section gives contact information for a range of support services for spouses, parents, and children, and where to find legal help.

You can now order the print version of Coping with Separation Handbook and also read it online.

Dialogue Tool
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MyLawBC isn’t just pathways. One of the biggest features on the site is the Dialogue Tool. This is a tool that helps you create a separation agreement that addresses your family’s needs. A separation agreement is a document that sets out how you and your spouse have agreed to deal with issues, including problems that may come up in the future. This could include who takes care of the kids, how much support will be paid, what to do about shared property, and other common issues.

The first thing that happens when you start using the Dialogue Tool is that you go through an intake process. Here, you’ll answer a set of questions about yourself, your relationship, and what you think your agreement should look like. Once you’ve finished, your spouse is invited to do the same.

When both of you have answered those questions, the system will compare them and create a template for an agreement based on your answers. You’re able to look at each other’s answers and see how they compare. You might find you aren’t as far apart on some issues as you initially thought.

Next, MyLawBC will give you a platform where you can negotiate with your spouse to come to an agreement. Each section of the Dialogue Tool will cover one important topic. In that section, you’ll be given the basis of a legal agreement for you to customize, the important information you gave in the intake portion, the information and resources you need to make an informed decision, and an area for you to talk with your spouse without having to meet face-to-face.

With those tools, and a little work, you’ll be able to create a fair and lasting separation agreement that works for your family.

Solving family law problems
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Issues around divorce and separation are some of the most common legal problems that people will experience. On our Family Law in BC website, just the pages about divorce were viewed almost 1.5 million times last year. It’s clear that people who are going through a separation or have gone through one have questions about what the law says and what the impact on their family is going to be. To help with this, MyLawBC has three guided pathways that can help people going through a separation. Make a separation plan helps you figure out the best way for you and your spouse to work through your family matters. When you can’t work together, Get a family order will give you the information you need to get a court order to resolve your issue. Finally, I’ve been served with a court document tells you what to do next once you’ve been served with a court document. Each of these pathways helps you with an aspect of the separation process by analyzing your situation and giving you the information you need to take action.

It’s also important to acknowledge that abusive relationships bring unique considerations to the process of separating. MyLawBC helps to address this with a pathway that helps you reflect on your relationship so that you can recognize the signs of abuse and the impact it could have on your separation. It then helps you create a safety plan and find the support you need to keep you and your family safe.

Hot Off the Press — Coping with Separation Handbook
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Coping with Separation Handbook is for spouses (married or living in a marriage-like relationship) who are dealing with the emotional aspects of separating. It was developed as a help tool for the Make a separation plan pathway and Dialogue Tool in the MyLawBC website. Statistics show that one-third of Canadians, or 40 percent of British Columbians, have separated from their spouses.

Using engaging illustrations, the handbook describes the emotional stages of separation and ways to cope. It includes:

  • a checklist to recognize symptoms of stress.
  • suggestions to reduce your anxiety about the court process,
  • ways to reduce conflict with your spouse,
  • how to communicate with your spouse as you make decisions, and
  • general tips to follow during the short and long term.

There’s also a section on how to help your children cope with their emotions. It lists common signs of stress in children and some do’s and don’ts for communicating with your children.

The last section has links to support services for spouses, parents, and children, and where to find legal help.

Coping with Separation Handbook is available online only.

Help for people with family law issues who have to represent themselves in Supreme Court
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If you’re going to Supreme Court for a family law matter without a lawyer, step-by-step help is now available to get you through the court process. Funded by the Law Foundation and based on the recommendations set out in Madam Justice Victoria Gray’s report Filling in the Blanks, the Legal Services Society has produced a new set of useful online resources for Supreme Court trials and hearings.

The new resources include a new self-help guide on how to schedule and prepare for a Supreme Court trial, plus two new step-by-step guides to walk users through completing the forms required for Supreme Court trials and Chambers hearings. The latter guides follow the same model as last year’s fill-in-the-blanks separation agreement guide. And in partnership with People’s Law School, we’ve created five new videos about preparing for and conducting a Supreme Court trial.

Here are descriptions and links to the new resources as well as some important older materials.

What happens at a Supreme Court trial (home page for all trial materials)

Stage 1: Before you schedule a trial

Fact sheet (multi-page): Discovery — Sharing information with the other party: Includes sections on why you have to share information, how you can shorten your trial by agreeing on some facts beforehand, what’s involved in discovery of documents and examination for discovery, and other ways to get information, like interrogatories or pre-trial examination of witnesses.

Stage 2: Prepare for your trial

NEW! Self-help guide: How to schedule and prepare for your Supreme Court trial: Explains the steps required to prepare for and schedule a Supreme Court trial, with a timeline of significant deadlines and links to videos that set out the court process.

Fact sheets:

  • Making an offer to settle: Explains how to make a formal offer to settle to try to resolve your issues before a trial.
  • Present your evidence in Supreme Court (multi-page): Describes the types of evidence you can prepare and present in a Supreme Court trial when you represent yourself (you don't have a lawyer). It includes sections on preparing your evidence, witnesses, documents, and expert opinions.

NEW! Videos (produced in partnership with People’s Law School):

  • Scheduling and preparing for a Supreme Court trial: A 4½-minute video that presents an overview of the steps leading up to a Supreme Court family law trial, including scheduling a trial, attending a Trial Management Conference, and filing and serving the necessary documents.
  • Giving testimony in Supreme Court: A 5½-minute video that describes how to prepare your spoken testimony, present it in Supreme Court, and respond to questions from the judge and the other party.
  • Questioning witnesses in a Supreme Court trial: A 5½-minute video that gives tips for using witnesses as evidence in a Supreme Court family law trial, and includes choosing your witnesses, planning your questions, and the procedure at trial. Also discusses the cross-examination process.
  • Using documents in a Supreme Court trial: A 7½-minute video that explains how to use documents as evidence in a Supreme Court family law trial and how to introduce exhibits both with and without a witness.

Stage 3: At your trial and after

NEW! Self-help guide: How to draft a Supreme Court order: Walks you through how to draft a Supreme Court order if you’re a party in a family law case.

NEW! Sample forms: Sample filled out versions of some of the most common court orders:

Fact sheets:

NEW! Video: An Introduction to Supreme Court: A 4½-minute video that provides information for the day you go to court, including what to bring and how to navigate the courthouse. Also shows what the inside of a Supreme Court family courtroom looks like, and describes the roles of those present.

Other Supreme Court resources

NEW! Self-help guide: How to draft an affidavit: Walks you through how to draft a Supreme Court affidavit if you’re a party in a family law case.

New! Sample filled-out affidavit

Fact sheets:

  • Tips for drafting an affidavit: Provides information about how to write an affidavit: what information to include and in what order, what it should look like, how to use and attach exhibits, and how to swear or affirm the affidavit once it's drafted.
  • Checklist of information to include in an affidavit or present in court: A checklist of the information/facts needed to support an application for child or spousal support/maintenance, guardianship/custody, or contact/parenting time/access. Also contains a link to a downloadable PDF version of the checklist.

These materials will supplement existing LSS self-help guides and fact sheets about making applications for court orders in Chambers hearings or by consent (out of court).

We’d like your feedback. Please let us know what you think of our new materials.

Failure to provide information to the court could cost you
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Just before the holidays, the Provincial Court of British Columbia made a ruling that could have a big impact on future family law cases. JP Boyd, a family law lawyer, wrote a summary of the ruling. You can read his full analysis on his blog, but this is the long and short of it. The case involved a father who wanted the court to lower the amount of child support he had to pay and to cancel the outstanding debt from child support that he hadn’t paid. When you ask the court for something like that, you need to also provide “complete and accurate financial disclosure.” That is to say that the judge needs to fully understand your financial situation before they make a decision.

Over the course of a few court proceedings, the father didn’t give the judge the information they needed or asked for. Situations like this can be a big problem for the court system. Because the court doesn’t have what it needs to make a decision, the case drags on, costing everyone involved time and money.

This isn’t a new problem.

The recent Family Law Act addresses this problem by giving the court more power to punish people who don’t provide full disclosure, and in fact that was what was used in this ruling. The ultimate result of this case was that the father was ordered to pay the mother’s legal fees due to his failure to provide the information required by the court. The judge found that there was “an ongoing lack of complete disclosure [and some] of the information that has been disclosed has been shown to be materially misleading.”

There are two important factors to consider with this decision:

  1. The father’s disclosure was found to be not just incomplete, but misleading; and
  2. Since he never fully provided the information, and didn’t try to, the court wasn’t going to consider his reasons for not doing so.

A more comprehensive breakdown of the ruling is available on JP Boyd’s blog for anyone interested.