Family Law

Family Law

Family law is an emotional, personal, and complex area of law. You may have questions about how to navigate the breakdown of a long-term relationship, how to enforce child-support obligations, or how to maximize your access to your children. You may be considering leaving a difficult family situation and not know what your rights and obligations are. North & Company's family law group can give you a compassionate and candid assessment of your situation and work with you to find a path forward that makes sense for you and your family.

Adoption

Adoption comes in many forms.  A traditional adoption is a parent or parents adopting a child who is not biologically theirs.  A step-parent adoption is where a spouse adopts the child of their spouse.  An adult adoption is what occurs when an adult is legally adopted by another person.  

An adoption changes the legal parent of the adoptive child.  It creates legal rights and legal obligations to the parties who adopt.  It is more serious than simply being in a parent-like role with a child.  It is not a step-parent situation and it often time highly emotional, personal and highly complicated in order to get the application done. 

Our knowledgeable team is well versed in the process of adoption and can assist you in completing the forms, appearing in court and any procedural issues that may arise.  Please contact us for further information on adoption.

Child Support

When parents separate or divorce they still have an obligation for the financial support of their children. This financial support is demanded by law to either be paid or received for the benefit of a child, and can be agreed upon between parents or calculated by a court using specific financial guidelines. Our lawyers provide assistance in reaching a fair agreement between parents in regard to the amount of support owed or received. 

We are also equipped to help you navigate the many other related issues, such as the terms that govern your child support payments and ensuring appropriate financial disclosure in order to calculate child support.

The biggest issue in child support is often times what occurs when you have a complicated income situation or whenever there is difficulty with disclosure.

If you wish to receive more information on this issue, contact our office.

Adult Interdependent Partner Agreements, Prenuptial, Postnuptial Agreements

No one wants to believe that their marriage or relationship could end in a separation or divorce; however, statistics suggest that consideration should be given to this possibility. Whether your relationship lasts the test of time or not, many people are more comfortable knowing that your assets are protected in the event of a future breakdown.

These agreements are made in contemplation of what will happen after a relationship has ended. The agreement may primarily outline the division of each party’s property, but also occasionally financial support, or even actions to be taken if one of the parties passes away. These are vital and complicated documents that require independent legal advice and execution in front of lawyers if you hope to make these agreements effective under the law. If you wish to receive more information on respectfully protecting your assets or have concerns regarding an agreement, please contact our skilled team of professionals for further information.

Separation Agreements

A Separation Agreement is a legal document that is signed in front of independent lawyers that governs what happens upon conclusion of a relationship. Although it primarily deals with the parties’ property, specifically who gets what and when and how, it also deals with issues such as the custody and access arrangements for the children as well as financial support including partner or child support. These contracts are very important upon the breakdown of a relationship as, if done correctly, they become fully legally enforceable and breach of a contract of this nature can lead to serious consequences. They are different than a pre-nuptial, post-nuptial or adult interdependent partner agreement because they are done upon conclusion of the relationship and there is no need to attempt to guess what might occur in the future. With full and proper financial disclosure, all parties’ property that exists at the time of the agreement can be properly resolved.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Most family and divorce separations do not end up in trial. The is due to the extreme costs and delays of the court system.

As well, may times the parties, once they have had an opportunity to be fully informed about the law, are able to reach an agreement regarding what should happen to the property, the children and their support needs.  Such an agreement can be made with or without the assistance of third parties and are often times can easily be turned into an enforceable Separation Agreement.

Sometimes parties need assistance from a third party and there are many mechanisms in order to get that done.  Often times, the parties may attempt to mediate their dispute with or without the assistance of a lawyer or third party. 

Another common alternative is what is known as Collaborative Law which is a special training that exists for lawyers and is an agreement between the parties and the lawyers to not attend court except for minor consent matters.  Several lawyers at North & Company LLP are trained to be collaborative lawyers and can assist you and answer more questions about these and other alternative dispute mechanisms other than court or trial.

Court and Trial

Although most matters do end in settlement between the parties and most matters do not end up going to trial, sometimes there is a dispute between parties that cannot be resolved by agreement between them.  Often times these disagreements will end up in Court.  Court can involve matters at the Queen’s Bench level, Provincial Court or even other levels of Court.  Court procedure can be quite complicated and confusing and usually does require some elements of public speaking.  The lawyers at North & Company LLP are trained and experienced in matters in the Court process and can assist you in contested Court matters including any trials that may be required.  If you believe litigation will be a necessity, it may be prudent to contact a lawyer for further information.  Please feel free to contact North & Company LLP to set up an initial consult.

Adult Interdependent Partner Relationships (Common Law Relationships)

Alberta does not have a legal definition of common law relationships. The closest thing we have is adult interdependent partnerships. This is governed by the Adult Interdependent Partnership Act.

The specifics of becoming an adult interdependent partner are somewhat more complicated but the most common ways are living together in a spousal-like relationship of three years or more or having a child together and living together after the birth.  

Until January 2020, there is no statutory property rights provided upon a relationship breakdown although there are options available.  After 2020, the Family Property Act comes into effect which provides substantial property rights to adult interdependent partners.  

There are also other several rights that currently exist under various other Acts involving children, potential partner support and/or rights upon the death of the other party.

It is recommended that if you have any concerns about common law property or rights prior to January 2020, contact our office as the issue gets quite complicated as there are multiple common law options which are very complicated to be deal with.

Please contact our office to schedule an appointment for further information.

Child Custody and Access, Guardianship and Parenting Time

The division of a child’s time between parents is always an emotional area of law. It is also a complicated area and can be frustrating and frightening to handle on your own when so much is at stake. One must consider who will have the day-to-day control of the child, the frequency to which a parent will see the child, visitation rights, etc. 

A legal professional can help navigate and settle a dispute of this type without creating added stress on the parents, and most importantly the child.

At the end of the day, the legal test in a matter such as this always revolves around the best interest of the child. If the parties cannot agree with each other, the person who decides the best interests of the child may be a Judge. As such, it is important to fully understand the interplay of this legal test with the real day-to-day job of parenting.

Contact us to set up an initial consult to discuss this complicated and oftentimes emotional issue with one of our family lawyers.

Divorce

Although the act of divorce is not unusual, the actual process of attaining a legal divorce can seem overwhelming. A divorce involves more than the physical separation of two people, you must obtain a divorce order in the Court of Queen’s Bench. There are multiple methods to acquire a divorce order from the Court.  Seeking legal advice on your options gives you the understanding and assistance to handle your divorce in the most organized way possible. At North & Company, we can ease your mind by handling the procedural elements that will ultimately provide you with a divorce. We understand that this can be a difficult time; however, with our legal support we can offer you sound legal advice in a discrete and effective manner.

Contact us to set up an initial consult to discuss.

Division of Matrimonial and Family Property

One of the biggest concerns when going through a separation is what happens to the shared property once the marriage has ended. The Matrimonial Property Act or Family Property Act dictates how property is divided after a divorce has been granted. Often the shared property will be divided equally; however, this is not always the case. Sometimes disputes arise when there are grounds to support an unequal division of property. Other times there are disagreements as to what property should even be included in the discussion. If you have concerns about how your property will be divided, what property should be included, or any other concerns related to the future of your property after a divorce, please reach out to one of our knowledgeable professionals.  

Spousal Support or Adult Interdependent Partner Support

Spousal or Adult Interdependent Partner support is a statutory remedy that recognizes the contributions both parties have in a relationship.  This support is designed to recognize any financial comingling of the parties in a relationship as well as the financial necessity of the parties if one or the other condition exists.  Spousal support is often times a heavily factual basis and is in part dependent upon the parties’ actual disclosure at the time which, not often and easy concept.  If you need more information on spousal support please contact our office.

Spouses or partners depend on each other during a marriage for various living expenses, but this does not necessary end when the marriage does. Depending on the spousal dynamics, you may owe or be owed financial support based on your contributions to the relationship. The amount of support may be based on numerous grounds such as the role each spouse played in the relationship, the specific needs of each spouse in regard to their means, or any contractual arrangements the spouses entered into with each other. Dealing with and calculating spousal support can be complicated, which is why it is highly suggested to seek legal assistance from a competent lawyer.

Contact us to set up an initial consult to discuss.

Limited Engagements

Under the Alberta Rules of Court, lawyers are allowed to assist clients on a limited engagement basis so that rather than helping with many different aspects upon the breakdown of a relationship, lawyers are able to assist in a limited way, whether that be prepping a matter for Court, reviewing documents, providing legal advice on specific points, etc. These steps can often be a cost efficient option for clients with a limited level of funds. If you have a matter that you do not believe would require the full involvement and retainer but may warrant some legal assistance, feel free to contact North & Company LLP for a discussion about a potential limited engagement with one of our lawyers.

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