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Calgary Family Law Blog

Family law: The rights of Alberta grandparents

Divorce affects many family members, not just the divorcing couple. The couple's parents may likely be shocked at the news their children will be divorcing, but their thoughts may likely soon turn to their grandchildren and exactly what their rights are as grandparents. Alberta family law does address grandparents' access rights.

The child custody situation could determine which set of grandparents the children may be seeing most. The rights to see their grandchildren isn't automatic for grandparents. Visitation is usually up to the parents unless grandparents have been granted permanent or temporary custody of their grandkids if the parents are found to be unfit to care for their children.

Alberta divorce mediation: Who gets the hockey tickets?

A contentious issue in a recent divorce case concerned who would get season tickets to the Edmonton Oilers. It took divorce mediation to help the Alberta couple sort out the situation. In the end, a judge ruled the couple should share the tickets, but wouldn't have to sit together. The pair had been married 35 years and both are die-hard NHL fans.

The husband agreed to pay his wife $15,000 a month in spousal support, but the two couldn't agree on what to do about the season tickets that are in his name, though he shared with his wife for more than a decade. The wife sought a court order to have her ex share the season tickets, including those for the playoffs. But the husband didn't know if they would be considered matrimonial property and refused to give his ex wife any tickets.

Alberta family law: Myths about common law relationships

Many couples today feel that they don't need a piece of paper between them to prove they are a couple. But there are many myths tied to common law relationships, including those in Alberta. These couplings, legalities that are under the family law umbrella, can be more complex legally than most people might realize. 

One of the things most common law couples don't realize is that not all laws are the same in Canada concerning common law spouses. Those in common law partnerships in Alberta are called adult interdependent partners. That moniker refers to an unmarried couple who has lived together for three or more years or a couple that shares a child together and lives together.

Family law: The what's his, what's hers dilemma

A divorce settlement generally spells out the details of a divorce. There are many legalities around family law in Alberta, and when things are spelled out as in who gets what when, it makes good sense to pay attention. It is perfectly fine to question what is written in divorce papers, particularly when uncertainty remains regarding specific terms. 

Spouses may head to mediation or court without really understanding how a divorce can affect them financially. If there are no plans for a financial shift, one individual could be left in a dire financial straits if he or she has to pay spousal and/or child support. The division of assets needs to be clearly documented as well.  Being in the dark about these issues could really mess up someone's financial future. 

Executors: Fatal Accident Claims and Estate Administration

In Alberta, when someone dies as a result of the negligent or criminal actions of another person, the Executor or Administrator of the deceased person's estate should be aware of a possible claim under the Fatal Accidents Act, against the person whose actions caused death. Section 3 of the FAA states that the action can be brought by the Executor on behalf of all the potential claimants - deceased's spouse, adult interdependent partner, parents, children and siblings.

Family law: Child told not to wear girls clothes in custody case

A couple is fighting over the custody of a five-year-old child who was born male but identifies as female and wants to wear girls' clothing. The child's mother is supportive of the child, but the father says it's the mother who has the child mixed up. Under the family law umbrella in Alberta, one judge ruled the child could only wear girls clothes privately and another judge upheld that decision. However, a third judge removed the restriction and said the child could choose what clothes to wear and when.

A spokesperson for the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services at the University of Alberta said these issues shouldn't even be heading to court, especially in light of human rights legislation changes regarding gender identity. The spokesperson said this case clearly points out that the next frontier of awareness for the courts concerns gender identity, especially where children are involved. A member of Alberta's Trans Equality Society is supporting the mother and urging her to launch a human rights complaint against the first two judges in the case.

Collaborative law: Your RRSP funds and divorce

Couples who plan for retirement together don't usually think about the possibility of divorce. Sometimes, however, life throws a curve ball, and couples do separate. Collaborative law in Alberta paves the way for couples to iron out issues surrounding divorce -- one being what happens to retirement savings in the event a couple divorces. 

RRSPs and RRIFs along with pensions are considered under the law as family property and so must be split evenly in the event a couple separates or divorces. The federal Income Tax Act allows funds in RRSPs and RRIFs to be rolled over tax free between spouses if the court orders it or if there is a written agreement of separation. However, things can get a little sticky since dividing the money in those plans with other assets may entail complex deliberations that could leave each person having to make up for the shortfall in retirement funds.

High asset divorce in Alberta: Wealth and court don't mix well

More than 40 percent of all marriages in Canada will end in divorce and most are labelled "no fault." Wealthy, married Canadian couples usually have no problem paying for a divorce. But in high asset divorce cases in Alberta, the best scenario moving forward with divorce action is to try to stay clear of the court room. 

Separating couples will generally lose control of the process and of the outcome if their divorce case ends up in the hands of the court. With the foray into the court system comes escalating costs that even the wealthy would generally like to avoid. Hiring an appraiser to ascertain the value of joint assets may be a wise decision.

Family law: Gender bias and spousal support in Canada

Traditionally after a divorce, a man financially supported his former wife, but that is changing. So, if women are earning more than their partners and divorce is looming on the horizon, should there be a reversal of what has been commonly accepted in terms of spousal support under family law in Canada? There are proponents who believe so.

Married couples are bound by the rules set out in the federal Divorce Act. The act stipulates that spousal support is most often paid when there are large discrepancies between the incomes of the spouses during the time of separation. Some provinces also allow spousal support for common law couples. However, common law couples must have lived together for a certain amount of time before being eligible for spousal support.

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