Family is more important than anything. Over time, many families change. Whether yours is growing or shrinking, we will help you navigate the process to get you to your new family structure. These are some of the areas that we can help with. You can also visit our family law blog posts to hear more from our family lawyer.
Deciding to live “separate and apart” is a difficult choice for any family. There are lots of important
decisions to make in a short period of time as couples make choices about parenting arrangements and dividing their property, all the while trying to adjust to the new normal. You do not need to apply to the court for a “legal separation” but in most cases; couples must be separated for a year before they can get divorced granted a divorce. A couple is considered to be separated when at least one of them decides to split up.
Divorce can be messy and expensive. But in some cases, couples are able to agree on the terms of their divorce and can avoid doing battle in court. Couples in this situation can file a "Joint Application for Divorce". Making a joint application for divorce has the advantage of being less expensive and can also reduce the emotional impact of divorce for the whole family. Even with this type of application, couples still need to file a number of documents and forms so it is still a good idea to consult with a lawyer for a joint application to be sure it is done properly.
Adoption is forever. Adoptions create the same legal relationship between parents and children as exist between biological families. There are several different types of adoption including step-child, kinship, international, and agency placements through the Department of Community Services. The Department of Community Services oversees all adoptions in Nova Scotia. A judge has to consent to most adoptions and will consider whether it is in the best interests of the child being to be adopted.
Custody and Parenting Time are often confused but are two distinct concepts. Custody is about legal decision-making authority. Parenting time is about the day to day care of children. Often parents have joint decision making on big decisions about the medical, educational and religious aspects of a child’s life even when the children live primarily with one of them. A clear parenting plan can help families smooth the transition resulting from a separation. The principle of “best interests of the child’ guides the court in these situations.
The goal of child support is to provide the child with financial support of a parent who they do not live with full time. A parent is required to pay child support whether they were married, common law, and even if they have no ongoing relationship with the other parent. The amount is set by the Child Support Guidelines and is based on the parent’s income, the custody arrangement the Province of residence, and the number of children. Parents usually share the expense of extra costs like sports fees and health insurance. If a person is not making their child support payments the Maintenance Enforcement Program may dock wages or seize property. Child support payments generally continue until the child is 19 years old but in some cases may continue if they are dependant due to a disability or they are in post-secondary education.
Spousal support is paid from one spouse to another to another at the end of a relationship. A person must have been married or lived in a common law relationship for two years to be eligible for spousal support. Like many family law issues, the specific facts of your situation will be considered in deciding if it applies to your situation. The length of the relationship, the relative incomes, and the roles each person had during the relationship go into deciding the amount, and length of time a person will receive spousal support. Unlike child support, spousal support is discretionary and will be based on individual circumstances.
Some situations are so urgent that help from the courts is needed right away, especially when there is abuse or risk of harm to children. The court may put temporary measures in place to allow one person to stay in the family home or to order a parent not to remove a child
Court orders are a common part of the resolution to family law problems. They are used to outline the terms of custody, financial support and other issues. While an order may have been appropriate at the time it was made, people’s lives and circumstances change and can make it necessary to change the terms of a court order. In general, the person who wants to change an order must apply to the court and show that there has been a change in circumstances that affects the court order. Some examples include change in employment, moving homes or getting remarried. People can also agree to change a court order, but a judge will still have to give final approval.
Many people believe that people in common law relationships have the same rights as married couples. This is not true. Although some aspects are the same (child support for example), many others are not. Unlike married couples, when a common law relationship comes to an end the property is not necessarily divided equally. In some cases, this can lead to one of the individuals being left with nothing to rebuild their lives.