Experts predicated that by mid-2020 38% of Canadian marriages would end in divorce. In the past year, life has been challenging, especially for couples struggling in unhealthy relationships.
A legal professional specializing in family law in Surrey can help if you have decided to file for divorce from your spouse. You deserve support when going through this difficult time, and help is available.
An experienced family law lawyer can help you through the challenges of divorce. It’s important to have a consultation as early as possible in the decision-making process, because early decisions (or indecision) can have a long-term impact on the outcome of your case.
Why You Might Decide to Hire a Divorce Lawyer
When deciding to hire a lawyer, consider several key factors. For starters, we can guide you through your entire case. We also know how married parties can amicably and efficiently legally separate interests.
You likely do not have time to:
- Educate yourself on this topic
- Represent yourself in court
- File paperwork with appropriate parties
- Assign a value to all your assets
You might have a small business that you want to devote your time to. You might have children and pets that need your attention. Let your lawyer take on your case so you can spend time with your loved ones.
We also know that divorce can cause involved parties to consider their future. You should have all the time you need to do this when you retain a lawyer who already knows the law and how it will impact your situation.
How to Prepare for a Divorce in British Columbia
You might be anxious for this process to get on its way. We understand this. You can help our team before meeting with us to formally begin your case by doing the following:
- Gathering all relevant documents
- Marriage certificate
- Financial information
- Previous court papers
- Start outlining the details of your separation agreement
- What kind of custody or guardianship arrangement is ideal
- What kind of child support will be required
- How will you split the parenting responsibilities
- How you intend to divide your assets
- Will there be a need for spousal support
If You Feel Unsafe in Your Relationship
You can file for a protection order that can legally prevent contact between you and your spouse. The specific kind of protection order you can file for will be a family law protection order.
Our team practicing family law in Surrey is more than happy to secure this order for you. You must know you have rights.
Your Partner Might Have Committed Family Violence
Please know that assault, violence, stalking, and harassment are illegal. If you or your child were a victim of such activity, you can obtain a protection order against your spouse.
Much of the Family Law Act references violence against women. The same protections are available to people in same-sex relationships, as well as men seeking protection from their female partners.
The Path Ahead of You
If you and your spouse have already come to a complete agreement on all issues, you will likely wish to file for divorce on an uncontested basis.
This can be done through the filing of documents and will not require you or your spouse to attend court. This is commonly known as a “Desk Order” divorce.
This is obviously the least stressful and least expensive option but if you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on all issues the process becomes more complicated.
In Surrey, British Columbia, a typical divorce application begins with a spouse filing a Notice of Family Claim, usually at the courthouse in New Westminster, where you set out the relief you are seeking from the court:
- Child Custody and Parenting Orders
- Access to the Children
- Spousal Support/ Alimony
- Asset and Debt division
Your spouse will then file a Counterclaim setting out the relief he or she is seeking.
Each of you will need to file a Financial Statement with the court setting out your income, your monthly budget, your assets and your debts, supported by your last three years of income tax information.
Your first court appearance will likely be a Judicial Case Conference where you, your spouse and your lawyers meet with a judge to work out a potential settlement.
If you cannot achieve a full settlement, the judge will likely direct you and your spouse to set a trial.
The entire process, from filing the Notice of Family Claim to the conclusion of your trial will take anywhere from 12-18 months, on average, to complete.
The court can grant an uncontested divorce to couples who both agree to divorce and who are able to stick to their separation agreement. If one party wants to contest the divorce, they can do so through the court.
Needless to say, the more contested the divorce, the more expensive, time-consuming and stressful it can be for parents and children of divorcing families.
Some families prefer to remain in the same home during separation. This can provide stability and a sense of normalcy for the children involved.
We can help you create a Cohabitation Agreement if you or your spouse will be living together during and shortly after the divorce proceedings.
Mediation is Possible in Some Circumstances
If you do not want to create court costs or a longer case than desired, another option is family law mediation.
This process would involve sitting down with your spouse, your lawyers, and a neutral mediator to determine the best situation for your family.
However, this is not always a realistic approach. Divorcing spouses might not have the same access to disposable finances. This can make it hard for one party to afford mediation.
In fact, demanding mediation is sometimes used as a tactic to cause excessive costs. Sometimes parties are intractable.
You might have filed for divorce because your partner is violent. Such circumstances would not create a beneficial mediation.
Our Fleetwood Family Law Surrey divorce lawyers can negotiate a fair and balanced separation agreement.
Your Child or Children Are Important to This Process
In making an order respecting guardianship or parenting arrangements, the court will only consider the best interests of the child or children. Dependents are valued in divorce cases.
Under the law, children are asked about their preferences and opinions regarding their future guardian.The views of the child will be considered, but are not the only thing the court will factor. Other factors include:
- Health and emotional well being of the child
- History of the child’s care
- Child’s need for stability
- The respective parenting abilities of the parties
- Whether there is a history of family violence
The child’s safety is the most important thing, however. One spouse’s history of violence or past criminal proceedings involving your child will affect the outcome.
We will concern ourselves with guardianship, access to your child, and even parentage determination, if necessary.
Common Law Marriage
If you and your partner were in a “marriage-like relationship” for at least two years, you can qualify for the protection of rights under the Family Law Act.
If there is a child of the relationship, you are deemed to be spouses and there is no two year requirement. Speak to your lawyer about your options.
Services We Offer Our Surrey Clients Facing Divorce
Many aspects of family law and divorce require unique knowledge of the law. We can serve your needs, including:
- Marital debt
- Child custody
- Property division
- Financial support
- Child Support
- Spousal Support
- Cohabitation agreements
- Prenuptial Agreements
- Interim Orders for Counselling
- Financial Restraining Orders
- General legal advice about family law matters in BC
You might be concerned with who will retain custody of your children. Deciding who gets to keep the boat, car, or house. Your lawyer will work to figure all this out.
Reviews From Clients
The families we have helped in the past were in situations similar to yours. Our clients have had the following to say about us:
- “The team at Fleetwood were there for me through my difficult, difficult divorce.” – Kim Waines
- “Very professional and caring service and went well beyond what one would expect.” – Brian Whitaker
Our managing partner Matthew Brandon and our entire team commit to meeting our clients’ needs. We have been practicing family law in Surrey for over 12 years. Let us help you and your family.
Speak to Us About Family Law in Surrey
Seek out legal support from Fleetwood Family Law. We offer our clients a confidential 30-minute consultation. We want to hear about your concerns and needs.
Reach out to our team today about family law in Surrey. The sooner we hear about your circumstances, the sooner we can get started on solving your problems and creating a fair situation.