It’s sad but true that separation is a modern day reality. You may know a number of people who have gone through the separation process. If you have been thinking of separating, you should consider getting professional legal advice from a lawyer specializing in family law.
You should ideally get that legal advice BEFORE you separate.
Information you may obtain from friends, family, television and social media is no substitute for the help of a seasoned family law lawyer who can advise you of the best legal strategy for your own individual situation.
Here are some common misunderstandings Valerie has heard from clients.
1. The Courts favours mothers when it comes to custody.
The Courts do not favour mothers over fathers. The Judge will consider the roles each parent has played in the child’s life and the history of the child’s care. They will take into account the child’s physical and emotional health as well as he strength of the relationship the child has with each parent and any other significant person(s) in the child’s life. Other factors the court must consider are detailed in Section 37 (2) of the Family Law Act.
2. When a child turns 12, the children can decide with whom they want to live.
There is no specific age outlined in the law as to when a child is entitled to decide who they can live with. The child’s views are only one factor the court will consider when making Orders for custody, guardianship, parenting time or contact time. The maturity of the child is taken into account to determine what weight should be given to the child’s views. In addition, the court will consider whether the child’s views have been unduly influenced by either parent by reason of bribery, parental alienation or any threats. Often times, a child will speak to a child psychologist and the child’s views will be presented in a written statement called a Views of the Child Report.
3. Joint Custody will only be awarded if the parents can cooperate.
Sometimes in high conflict custody cases, the Judge will order joint custody with each parent having the child 50% of the time in order to minimize the interactions between the parties and the number of “access” exchanges so as to minimize potential opportunities for the child to witness any hostility between the parents. In cases such as these the parents are “parallel parenting”.
4. Doing the paperwork yourself will save you money.
As with any do-it-yourself project, you do not have the years of education and training and experience of a skilled and professional lawyer. It is possible you may unknowingly miss something, or inaccurately draft a term that leaves you exposed to future claims or liabilities.
How can you get the best advice about your separation?
The most important step you can take when you anticipate a separation is to get help from a family law lawyer as soon as possible. Valerie can help you prepare for the separation and she can guide you through the process so it is as manageable as it can be. Valerie has helped thousands of people separate in Coquitlam, Maple Ridge, Burnaby, New Westminster, Vancouver, North Vancouver and other areas throughout Metro Vancouver and beyond. If you need help with your separation and want an experienced family lawyer on your side as you navigate the process, contact Valerie at her office today.