Vancouver Family Lawyers
Family law matters can be highly emotional and time-sensitive and have a lasting impact on the family dynamic. The legal issues spouses and their children face after a relationship breakdown are complex and require knowledgeable legal guidance.
Meridian Law Group provides clients with reliable and candid advice in family matters. Prominently located in the heart of downtown Vancouver in Nelson Square, our family and divorce lawyers work collaboratively to provide creative, out-of-the-box legal solutions that meet the needs of our clients and their families.
Divorces in British Columbia are governed by the federal Divorce Act and supplemented by the requirements of British Columbia’s Family Law Act. A divorce order legally terminates a marriage between spouses, who may then remarry in the future. Most divorces are granted on the grounds that the spouses have lived separate and apart for one year, although this can be waived in very limited circumstances involving adultery and cruelty. In cases where a marriage was legally invalid from the beginning, parties may pursue an annulment.
Meridian Law Group understands the effect of separation and divorce on the family dynamic. We help clients navigate the divorce process quickly and effectively so their families can move forward without delay.
The children’s best interests are paramount in parenting matters, both under Canada’s Divorce Act and the British Columbia Family Law Act. The two primary parenting issues separated spouses face are decision-making responsibility and parenting time (together, formerly referred to as custody and access).
Decision-Making Responsibility (Custody)
Decision-making responsibility (formerly called “custody”) refers to a parent’s ability to make important decisions affecting their child. This includes matters relating to the child’s medical care and treatment, education, religion, language, and culture.
Parenting Time (Access)
Previously known as “access,” parenting time is the amount of time the child spends in the care of each parent. This includes times the child is not physically with the parent, such as when they are in school.
Both decision-making responsibility and parenting time must be resolved through a settlement agreement or court order before a divorce. They may be varied by the court on application of either spouse as the family’s circumstances change over time.
Other Parenting Issues
In addition to decision-making responsibility and parenting time, several other parenting issues can arise in family law proceedings, including:
- Guardianship of a child under the Family Law Act;
- Alienation of a child and reunification counselling;
- Orders declaring parentage or requiring DNA testing.
Meridian Law Group provides reliable advice on all of the above parenting issues. We represent our client’s position regarding their children’s best interests and advocate for their needs both in court and through alternative dispute resolution processes.
A parent’s decision to relocate must always be made in the child’s best interests and must be structured to preserve the child’s relationship with the other parent. Whether a relocation will be granted depends on the impact on the child and the parenting time arrangements in place.
If you are considering relocating and have an order or agreement governing parenting time or decision-making responsibility or have been served with notice of the other parent’s intention to relocate, Meridian Law Group can help. We provide candid and reliable advice so you can make an informed decision in your children’s best interests.
The separation of a married or common law couple can give rise to two types of support claims: spousal and child support.
Spousal support aims to remedy the financial imbalance between the primary income-earning spouse and the spouse who stayed home to raise the family’s children. Spousal support can also be ordered to meet one party’s particular financial needs or because the support was contractually set at the outset of the relationship.
Child support is intended to balance the parents’ obligations to provide for their child financially and depends on the child’s amount of time with each parent (parenting time). Additional payments can be ordered where a child has extraordinary expenses, such as health insurance premiums, post-secondary education, tutoring, or extracurricular activity costs.
At Meridian Law Group, we help clients understand their rights and obligations. We assist with applications for retroactive support and variation orders, as well as enforcement actions against a non-compliant parent or spouse.
Domestic agreements help formalize arrangements between spouses on various issues, including parenting and property matters. These contracts can establish expectations between family members and reduce the risk of conflict in future legal proceedings.
Separation agreements set out the responsibilities of each spouse or common law partner after their relationship has ended. Common issues addressed in separation agreements are parenting time, decision-making responsibility, support entitlements, and property division.
Both married and common law couples can create cohabitation agreements while living together. It addresses matters relating to their cohabitation and the family home, including parenting arrangements, household expenses, joint purchases, and property acquired before or during the relationship. These agreements can also be used to formalize a couple’s common law status and determine how their property will be divided if they separate.
The knowledgeable lawyers at Meridian Law Group can help negotiate and draft domestic agreements that meet a family’s unique needs. We can also review pre-existing agreements to ensure our client’s rights and entitlements are properly represented in accordance with all applicable laws.
An individual who has safety concerns relating to a violent family member can seek different types of relief through the British Columbia family courts.
Protection orders granted under the Family Law Act prevent or limit contact between a violent individual and their children or other family members. They also protect victims from physical and sexual abuse, threats, unlawful publication of intimate images (revenge porn), and criminal harassment.
The Family Law Act also allows a court to grant conduct orders addressing other problematic behaviours that unnecessarily complicate or delay family legal matters or misuse the court process. Courts can require parties to attend court, participate in counselling, or refrain from communicating with one another to facilitate a resolution.
If you have concerns about family violence, the compassionate team at Meridian Law Group can advise you on your options. We can pursue any necessary court orders on your behalf to ensure the safety of you and your family.
Adoptions in British Columbia are governed by the Adoption Act and include:
- Adoptions by a child’s stepparent;
- Family member adoptions (common where both parents are deceased or cannot care for the child); or
- Agency adoptions (both within and outside Canada).
Adoption processes can be complex and highly technical. Meridian Law Group helps clients navigate the requirements of adoption legislation to avoid unnecessary delay and cost.
Contact the Family and Divorce Lawyers at Meridian Law Group in Vancouver for Advice
Meridian Law Group has been a mainstay of the Vancouver legal community for over 30 years. Our family lawyers consistently deliver results and are ready to assist at any stage of a family law matter. Meridian Law Group is located in downtown Vancouver and represents clients in West Vancouver, North Vancouver, Coquitlam, Penticton, Kelowna, Richmond, New Westminster, Burnaby, Surrey, Langley, and White Rock. To discuss how we can help with your family issue, contact us at (604) 687-2277 or reach out online.