Family Law is an area of the law that deals with family related matters and domestic relations and can incorporate a wide range of situations, from dissolving marriages to child custody rights. Matters of Family Law are typically both emotionally charged and complex.
Separation and Divorce
The process of ending a relationship is never easy. This can be a very confusing and stressful time. The decisions you make in dealing with your separation or divorce can affect the rest of your life and the lives of your children and extended family. Obtaining competent legal advice early in the process will help you navigate the legal process, avoid common errors and the damage caused by those mistakes. At Sylvan Lake Law Office, we understand the difficulty of the situation and are here to provide advice, guidance and support through your separation and Divorce process. We will strive to ensure the best possible outcome for you and your family.
Child Custody and Access
- As difficult as the process of a separation or divorce can be on its own, it is even more stressful when there are children involved. Our firm will endeavor to ensure that the best interests of your children are protected in the family law context.
- One of the most sensitive issues at the breakdown of a relationship is determining who will be awarded custody of a child or what the parenting plan will be. When determining child custody and access matters, either during or after a Divorce or for unmarried parents, the Courts will decide based on the best interests of the child. At our firm, we understand the importance of protecting your family and you can be assured that we will do everything possible to protect the best interests of you and your family.
- Parents have an obligation to support their children when they separate or Divorce. Child support is a monthly sum that a parent pays towards the living expenses of their children in order to provide them with the best possible quality of life. In Canada we have the Federal Child Support Guidelines for married or divorced parents and the Alberta Child Support Guidelines for unmarried parents living in Alberta. These guidelines direct how much is payable by a parent based upon their incomes. Parents are expected to abide by the guidelines. Whether you need to establish child support or are in need of assistance with child support collection or modification, we are prepared to guide you through every step of the process.
- Spousal Support as it is called under the Divorce Act and Partner Support as it is referred to under the Alberta Adult Interdependent Relationships Act is not awarded in every separation. A Court determines whether or not to grant support based on several factors, including length of the relationship and health and earning capacity of each spouse among others. In Canada, we have the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines. Although these guidelines are helpful, they are not mandatory. However, that being said, they are becoming widely used by Judges throughout Alberta.
Processes Available for Resolving Family Law Matters
- Negotiation is the process by which the parties to a dispute have discussions aimed at reaching an agreement. Negotiation can take place between the parties themselves, either directly, or with the assistance of lawyers who will negotiate on your behalf. Often times, settlement meetings are held between the two disputing parties and each of their lawyers. If an agreement can be reached through negotiation, a Contract is drafted by the lawyers that reflect the terms agreed to and everyone will sign.
- Litigation is the legal process used when disputes cannot be resolved out of Court by parties through negotiation or other forms of alternative dispute resolution. At Sylvan Lake Law Office we are here to help you whether you have been served with an Application or need to bring an Application to commence litigation. While litigation is not the ideal way to resolve all family law disputes, there are circumstances that require immediate action, where litigation needs to be commenced as soon as possible.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Collaborative Family Law
- Collaborative Family Law focuses on resolving the issues in a respectful and transparent manner.
- In Collaborative Family Law, each party is represented by his or her own lawyer, and all involved parties’ and lawyers sign an agreement not to litigate/take the matter to Court. The group then collaboratively works through the issues to find creative solutions that truly address the parties’ interests. This process allows the parties to negotiate a resolution that is truly crafted to their particular situation, rather than relying on the more rigid outcomes that may be directed by a Court.
Mediation and Arbitration
- When dealing with a Divorce or Family Law matter, it can often be in the best interests of both parties to use alternative dispute resolution techniques such as Mediation or Arbitration. During mediation, a mediator acts as a neutral third party to help you resolve your legal issues. A mediator will be impartial and will not advocate for either side, but rather facilitate a discussion that gets to the heart of both parties concerns and helps them find workable solutions. Arbitration also involves an impartial third party. However, this third party will, like a Judge, impose a decision if the parties are not able to agree to terms of settlement between themselves.
- One of the most stressful aspects of a Divorce or separation of unmarried people, is the process of property division. Property division can be complicated, and a potentially frustrating matter to resolve. For married people, the Alberta Matrimonial Property Act sets out the rules to be followed in dividing property. For unmarried couples there is no specific legislation in Alberta to govern the distribution of property. Unmarried people are left to rely on the common law of Unjust Enrichment.
- Prenuptual Agreements are signed before two people marry and determine what happens to each party’s individual assets and any joint assets in the event of a Divorce, separation or death. These agreements can deal with spousal support also.
- Cohabitation Agreements are signed by two people who either already live together in an unmarried situation or are contemplating living together. These agreements determine what happens to each party’s individual assets and any joint assets in the event of a separation or death. These agreements can deal with spousal support also.
- Separation Agreements are signed in the event of a breakdown in the relationship. These agreements deal with Custody/Parenting issues, Child Support issues, Spousal/Partner Support issues and division of property.