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Calgary Family Law Blog

Collaborative law -- is it the right choice for your divorce?

Although the reasons for Alberta couples to file for divorce may seem mostly similar, the dynamics of each are unique. For that reason, the special skills of lawyers such as the legal team at the law firm of Kirk Montoute LLP in Calgary, who are extensively trained in the process of collaborative law, are unrivalled when it comes to divorce. Collaborative law is an innovative manner in which to deal with a divorce without the trauma typically associated with litigated divorces.

The collaborative process requires the two spouses, and their lawyers, to commit to formal agreements not to take the case to court. If resolutions prove to be unattainable, the couple must retain new legal counsels to represent them in court. The collaborative process aims to reach consensus by all -- often also utilising the skills and knowledge of additional professionals such as financial and tax advisors, child psychologists, realtors and more to facilitate negotiations.

Update to the Estate of Prince Rogers Nelson

In a past article, the consequences of intestacy on administration of an estate were discussed within the context of the estate of the late recording artist, Prince, estimated to be worth up to $300 million. As predicted, administration of Prince's estate has led to protracted litigation, as described in this article from Vanity Fair.

Divorce mediation today might keep the doctor away

No one enjoys negativity in their lives, but unfortunately, a divorce can be fraught with negative emotions and unpleasant interactions. However, there are ways to reduce the level of conflict in an Alberta divorce, such as through divorce mediation. A new study seems to indicate that a bad breakup between parents can have surprisingly long-term effects on their children's health, all the more reason to work hard at as amicable a split as can be managed.

A new study from a leading university looked at the possibility of a connection between exposure to conflict and immune response. A group of 201 healthy adults went into quarantine, where they were exposed to a virus that can cause the common cold. Researcher monitored the subjects for five days and recorded the results.

Post-separation mediation = happier children post-divorce

The pictures show one smiling couple after another, laughing and mugging for the camera. Are they gleeful newlyweds? Amazingly, they are all recently divorced. The 'divorce selfie' is a recent phenomenon made possible by not only the ubiquitous smartphone, but also by the popularity of non-confrontational divorce techniques. Divorce mediation is just one possible reason for all the happy faces.

Not every divorce ends with smiles, of course, but most former spouses may find they can treat each other with respect, at least. In particular, divorced parents in Alberta owe it to their children to work together and maintain a stable environment. The effort made now could pay dividends later in life, according to one study.

Requesting a variation of spousal support in Alberta

As anyone going through a separation or divorce in Alberta knows, nothing lasts forever. Even the agreements made about life after marriage, such as child and spousal support, don't necessarily continue indefinitely. Payment amounts sometimes change to reflect new circumstances in either the payee or payer's life. In legal terms, this is a variation of support. 

The courts will not approve a variation of spousal support unless there is a good reason to do so. The person making the request must show there has been a material change in the situation of one of the two parties. This is mandated under the federal divorce law.Non-married parties may deal with spousal support through analogous provisions of the Family Law Act.

Using divorce mediation could protect children's health

Divorce or separation takes an emotional toll on everyone involved, including the splitting couple and their children. A recent study indicates that an especially contentious divorce may also have a negative impact on children's health. It may be that divorce mediation can offer divorcing parents in Alberta a chance to mitigate the effects.

Scientists in Spain conducted a study that looked at the health of 467 children between the ages of two and 18 years. Some of the children's parents were still together, while others' were divorced. The purpose was to see if there were any connections between exposure to divorce and any health issues.

When a family law dispute turns ugly, it may be time to seek help

Nonconfrontational divorces get a lot of attention in Alberta. By minimizing disputes, and avoiding court as much as possible, many men and women are able to find civil ways to end their marriages. In some instances, however, there may be too much conflict and animosity between two spouses to allow for this type of divorce. In the worst-case scenarios, a family law dispute may be so bad that one party actually feels uncomfortable, or even unsafe around his or her ex-spouse.

Very recently, police responded to a request to verify the welfare of a man at his home in Red Deer. Upon arrival, officers entered the home and found the man and his 6-year-old daughter dead, possibly as the result of a murder/suicide. The man and his ex-wife were involved in an ongoing dispute over custody and support.

The matrimonial home can be a tricky part of property division

All divorces can have sticking points for either or both parties involved. When the value of the marital assets is above average, property division can become a contentious issue. For many Alberta couples, the marital home is their single most valuable asset and deciding what to do with it may cause friction.

Although the real estate market has not inflated as much in Alberta as it has in some other provinces, the fact remains that homes usually gain significantly in value over time. A couple who were married for many years may find their matrimonial home is worth far more than what they paid for it. While this may seem like a good thing, for some couples it's a genuine problem.

Alberta courts not always efficient for family law disputes

An unfortunate reality for many divided families is that Agreements, particularly with respect to parenting, do not always reflect the dynamic nature of parenting as children grow older. Many divorced or separated parents find themselves arguing over issues like custody and access long after making agreements in court or collaboratively. Situations change, and sometimes what was once a workable arrangement may no longer be suitable to one party. While the obvious place to settle a family law dispute may seem to be in an Alberta courtroom, it may not be the most efficient route to take.

Many family law issues can be brought before a judge. Common examples include custody arrangements, spousal or child support, and applications for mobility. Unfortunately, so many people opt for this route that a backlog of cases has swamped the courts of the province. The situation became so bad that several judges volunteered their time to hear cases during the spring.

Divorce mediation/arbitration gains in popularity

Men and women in Alberta and across Canada are choosing non-confrontational solutions to their divorce and family law issues now more than ever. Divorce mediation and/or arbitration is now one of the most popular options for people to resolve disputes arising from the break-down of married and common-law relationships. However, many people probably know little about the field of mediation/arbitaration, and may be unsure how to choose a mediator/arbitrator.

With the recent advent of alternative dispute resolution techniques, including mediation, many men and women have chosen to forgo traditional litigation and try to work out their issues more harmoniously. In fact, at least one source suggests the number of people who choose court may be as low as 7 percent. Given the potential for saving time and money, and the bottlenecks in the courts, this should come as no surprise. Mediation/arbitration is an excellent way to achieve a fair settlement, and can lay the groundwork for successful co-parenting.

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