The end of a relationship is a stressful and emotional time for all involved. If you have already tried counselling or even a private mediation, and you are certain that your relationship is irreparably broken, we can help you to navigate through the next stages to try to resolve your family issues.
Our preference is to start with a non-court option: a separation agreement. These agreements are designed to resolve all of the issues that you may have including division of family assets and debt, child custody and support, parenting time/access, and spousal support (alimony).
If you are unable to come to an agreement with your spouse, we will then discuss other non-court options with you including a four way meeting between lawyers and clients or mediation with a trained mediator. We will help prepare your case to the extent necessary to have the best chance of a resolution at mediation.
Finally, and as a last resort, there is litigation. We think that court should always be the last resort to resolve your family dispute BUT, until settlement or trial, you may need help in the interim to obtain things like: interim support, exclusive occupation of the family home, advance distribution of family assets, parenting time, access, primary residence of the children, protection orders where there is the threat of or actual family violence (physical, emotional, psychological or financial) or restraining orders to protect assets (freeze bank accounts, prevent transfer or mortgaging of family property). These are court applications that we deal with regularly.
We also love to have clients come in to see us who wish to be pro-active by planning for possible relationship breakdown before they begin cohabiting or before they get married. We can help you by preparing cohabitation and pre-nuptial agreements. For these kinds of agreements, you should think about:
- how will your property be divided on relationship breakdown?
- what is fair?
- do you want to keep what you bring into a relationship – even the increase in value of an asset that happens over the course of the relationship?
- should you pay/receive spousal support if your relationship ends?
- is it your second (or more) marriage/relationship?
- do you have children from your first marriage?
- how do you want to deal with your estate?
Do you have jurisdiction questions? These days, with parents being much more mobile, we see a lot more cases where one spouse may choose to live in a different country, state, province from the other spouse. This raises significant questions about which court will have jurisdiction over the issues that arise on relationship breakdown. One of the big issues involves where the children should live if the parents have decided to live in different jurisdictions. One parent may have moved with the children to a different place without the consent of the other parent. One parent may have refused to return the children to the other parent following a holiday or visit to the other parent’s home. These situations may require a Hague Convention application (child abduction). You may have grounds to dispute the BC court jurisdiction over a family lawsuit started by your spouse in BC.
We can help you with your jurisdiction issues. Recent cases we have successfully argued before the BC courts include: Ovchinnikova v. Stevens (2018), English v McCurdy (2019), Aslanimehr v. Hashemi (2019) decisions (see CanLII.org)