Family Law

Before you act, find out about your legal rights.


If you are experiencing a relationship breakdown (marriage or common-law), you need to understand your legal rights! Your actions/decisions at this critical time may have far reaching impacts on your future. David H. Goodwin has more than 25 years in guiding the parties in making informed choices based on thorough competent legal advice. Before you act, find out about your legal rights.


Through negotiation it is frequently possible to resolve all legal matters related to ending a marriage or common-law relationship. Issues to be addressed include division of assets and debts, spousal support, matters affecting children including residency, guardianship, parenting time and child support. Detailed parenting agreements may be drawn up with expert guidance. A negotiated Separation Agreement is generally the most cost effective manner to resolve the various issues.


Where a spouse is uncooperative, it may be recommended to commence a family law proceeding. At an early stage you and your lawyer will meet with a Judge for a Judicial Case Conference (“JCC”). A JCC may be for a period of up to one and one-half hours to address issues which may be mediated. If no agreement is reached the Judge will provide directions related to addressing the outstanding issues. Where necessary applications to the Court may be made after a JCC to address issues on an interim basis. This may include matters such as freezing assets, interim child support, interim spousal support, restraining orders and so on.


Where there is a significant disparity in the incomes of the parties, the lower income party may be entitled to spousal support. There are Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines which the Court looks to in considering the range of spousal support payable. Significant factors which are considered include the role of each spouse in a relationship, child care responsibilities, and economic advantages or disadvantages as a result of the relationship. The need of one spouse and the ability to pay of the other spouse are also relevant considerations.


Divorce proceedings may be commenced at any time after one party has decided to end the marriage. Divorce proceedings may be commenced while both parties continue to reside in the same residence providing they are living separate and apart. A divorce on the grounds of marital breakdown requires that one year has passed from the time of separation before the divorce order may be granted. Where all other matters are resolved through a Separation Agreement, the divorce proceeding will normally be uncontested and does not require your attendance at Court.


Where children are involved there are significant issues to be addressed on the breakdown of the marriage or the common-law relationship. Recent changes to the law seek to refocus these issues with the elimination of the terms of custody and access. The recently enacted Family Law Act, S.B.C. 2011 c. 25 came into force on March 13, 2013. In most circumstances both parents will be characterized as the guardians of the children. Issues to be addressed include the parenting time each parent will have with the child and the division of responsibilities. The focus is on crafting detailed parenting arrangements. The “best interest of the child” is the guiding principle. The child’s views are required to be considered unless it would be impracticable to do so.

The Family Law Act and the Divorce Act both set out the obligations of both parents to support the children. In most cases, the parent having primary responsibility for the care of the children shall be entitled to receive child support from the other parent. The Child Support Guidelines set out the amount of child support payable based on your taxable income. In addition to the basic child support payment both spouses will be obliged to contribute to the special or extra-ordinary expenses of the child which include costs related to medical / dental, child care, school related expenses, certain extra-curricular expenses and so on. A consultation will assist you understanding your full legal rights and obligations.


The Family Law Act has brought about sweeping changes in the law regarding division of assets on relationship breakdown. These new laws apply to both marriages and common-law relationships. In general, it is the increase in the value of the assets which will be subject to division. Similarly, it is the debts acquired during the marriage or common-law relationship which will be subject to division. David H. Goodwin can assist you in understanding how these new laws apply to your particular situation.


Cohabitation / Marriage Agreements may be drawn in advance to address the outcome of a relationship breakdown. Such Agreements are more commonly entered into where there is a significant disparity in the assets being brought into the relationship by one of the parties. Agreements may be drawn to provide that certain property remains a party’s separate property in the event of a relationship breakdown. A properly drawn Agreement by a lawyer is important as such Agreements may be challenged in Court in the future based on factors such as fairness and unanticipated changes in circumstances. The Courts retain the jurisdiction to vary or set aside a Cohabitation / Marriage Agreement based on certain factors.


In urgent circumstances application may be made to the Court without notice to the other party. Urgent circumstances might include where one parent is threatening to remove the children from the jurisdiction. Where there is concern a party may conceal or dispose of assets an application may be made without notice to freeze the assets in order to preserve your rights. If you have such concerns, do not delay in obtaining legal advice.

Contact us for a consultation about your particular situation and learn about your rights.


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New Westminster,
British Columbia - V3M 1E3
Tel : 604-553-4818
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