Family Law

Family LawWhile we often think about family law in terms of a divorce, the area of law is much broader than that. Marriage, adoption, and child custody are all dealt with under family law, as well as matrimonial property, enforcement actions, and family mediation and arbitration. No matter your family law need, Right Legal can help you find a lawyer that will be the right fit for you – and your family.

What is family law?

Family law in Edmonton, Alberta, and Canada concerns marriage, separation, and annulment and divorce, as well as the family unit, obligations of partners, adoption and child custody, and sharing and division of property. In cases of family-owned businesses, business and tax law considerations are also relevant in determining shares of ownership and business structure.

One of the key objectives of the family law system in Canada is the protection of the interests of children. When determining an award of custody and child support in divorce cases, judges should be using the best interests of the child as a decisive factor.

Adopting a child, especially if doing so internationally, can be a difficult process. If planning an international adoption, lawyers familiar with international laws should be consulted. Fortunately, adoption from within Canada, especially if the child is a close relative, is inexpensive, although it is often beneficial to consult with a lawyer to ensure that the adoption process will be legally sound.

What laws govern family law in Canada?

At the federal level, the Divorce Act governs custody arrangements and spousal support. The Divorce Act further provides that partners may only apply for a divorce once they have been separated and apart for at least one year, or where there has been adultery (cheating) or cruelty or abuse. The federal Child Support Guidelines establish the rules that can be used in calculating payable child support.

Provinces have the power to govern the conditions of marriage and separation under their individual Marriage Acts, as well as legislation relating to the division of property when couples separate, such as the Matrimonial Property Act.

In family business situations, the applicable corporate and tax legislation would be the Canadian Business Corporations Act or a provincial Business Corporations Act, as well as the federal Income Tax Act. Although not a legislative authority, many provinces have grants and funding available for family businesses as well.

What sort of work would a family lawyer be involved in?

A family lawyer is often called upon to resolve disputes in the family, and may have to litigate for one partner or the other in cases of divorce or contested enforcement orders. A lawyer can only act for one member of the family if there is a divorce proceeding, and if that same lawyer had previously acted for both partners, the partners are suggested to seek independent legal advice from other family law lawyers. Given the conflict rules in family law, offering independent legal advice ends up being a large part of a family lawyer’s job.

Family Law – Points of Interest

Family law is one of the most common services offered by low-income or free legal clinics, such as Legal Aid and student legal services from law schools across Canada.