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Family Law & Divorce Lawyer in Vancouver

If you are filing for a divorce, or facing the legal issues surrounding a family breakdown or the divorce process, it is essential to have a Vancouver divorce lawyer that understands the process and British Columbia’s family laws. Edward Bowes of Edward Bowes Law Office not only has over 40 years of legal experience in the field of family law, but also real life experience on the subject.

Four Decades as a Vancouver Divorce Lawyer

In practising family law for more than four decades, Edward Bowes knows that the best way to handle a divorce or family law case is to take it on personally — not shift the work to a junior lawyer or paralegal. In addition to his extensive legal background, Edward is also a certified family violence dispute professional and mediator.

Divorcing with Children

Divorce is always a serious matter, especially when children are involved. There are crucial questions such as guardianship and access at stake. Edward Bowes provides compassionate counsel to those with children who are considering a divorce.

Financial Hurdles

There are financial assets to consider when planning a divorce. Whether you have significant assets or you are of modest means, exiting a marriage can be highly complex and personally challenging. A Vancouver divorce lawyer, such as Edward Bowes, can bring both his legal and real life experience to help you strategically approach the financial aspects of your divorce.

Family Businesses & Trusts

If a corporation or family trust is an issue in your divorce, Edward Bowes Law Office’s corporate experience can help you effectively analyze the issues at stake. Edward Bowes taught company law and other related subjects with the University of British Columbia’s law school for three years as an assistant professor law. He has also provided advice to not only companies and key corporate officers involved in matrimonial disputes, but also to individuals married to persons who held key positions in corporations, of which they derived “perks,” non-arm’s length benefits and tax advantages.

Division of Matrimonial Assets

When considering the division of matrimonial assets, it is important to carefully consider the tax ramifications of various approaches to resolving these types of issues. Life and legal experience is critical to a proper analysis of the case’s complexities. Edward Bowes Law Office in Vancouver can help.

The earlier you seek professional advice regarding your divorce filing, the more effectively it can be implemented. Call Edward Bowes Law Office today to get started.


Understanding the New Family Law Act

Today, we have the new Family Law Act that supersedes the former British Columbia Family Relations Act. This new legislation seeks to protect the best interests of the child and their care by either a parent, caretaker or guardian.

Highlights of the Legislation

The Family Law Act makes the best interests of the child the only consideration when decisions affecting the child are made. The act expands the best interests of the child test to include:

  • The history of care of the child;
  • the impact of family violence on the child’s safety, security and/or wellbeing;
  • the child’s views, unless it would be inappropriate to consider them; and
  • any civil or criminal proceedings relevant to the child’s safety and wellbeing.

Settling Disputes Out of Court

The Family Law Act supports ways for parents to resolve family matters outside of the courtroom — where appropriate — through agreements, mediation, parenting coordination and arbitration.

Addressing Family Violence

The Act also increases the ability of the court to deal with family violence by

  • Defining family violence;
  • legislating risk factors considered in parenting cases involving violence; and
  • making the safety of children a key goal of the best interests of the child test.

In addition, The Family Law Act creates a new type of order, a protection order, to replace the previous Family Relations Act’s restraining orders. Protection orders will limit contact and communication between family members in instances where there is a safety risk.

To ensure there is a consistent and effective approach in cases where a child’s safety is at risk, breaches of protection orders — under both the Family Law Act and the Child, Family and Community Services Act — will be a criminal offence.

Time with a Child

The Family Law Act helps ensure children have time with their parents by creating a range of remedies and tools for non-compliance that ensure parents receive — and follow through on — parenting time they are given. These include participation in family dispute resolution or counselling, reimbursing expenses such as travel, child care, lost wages by the parent unable to have time with the child, as well as payment of a fine by the parent denying the time.

Property Division

The Family Law Act reforms property division so that certain property, such as pre-relationship property and inheritances generally will not be divided up.

Family property under the Family Law Act includes all property owned by one or both spouses at the date of separation unless the asset is excluded, in which case, only the increase in the value of the asset during the relationship is divisible. Whether an asset is used for a family purpose will not be relevant in deciding if it is family property. Any increase in the value of property can be claimed as a family asset and is subject to division on separation.

Property division applies to married spouses and to unmarried spouses who have lived in a marriage-like relationship for at least two years.

Determining Parentage

The Family Law Act establishes a much needed framework for determining a child’s legal parents, including where assisted reproduction is used.

The treatment of spouses under the Family Law Act marks a significant broadening of spousal support and property division rights for non-married persons. Unlike the old Family Relations Act, the Family Law Act provides that all individuals meeting the definition of “spouse” are entitled to property division and spousal maintenance.

The FLA definition is broad. The legislation defines a “spouse” as follows:

  • A person who is married to another person,
  • a person who lived with another person:
  • in a marriage-like relationship for a continuous period of at least two years, or
  • in a marriage-like relationship of some permanence if the persons are together the parents of a child and, for the purposes of this Act, the marriage-like relationship may be between persons of the same gender.

The provisions allow persons who have cohabited and had children together to claim property division and spousal support even when the relationship may have been brief.

The Family Law Act also addresses the enforceability of separation agreements. For the first time in British Columbia, there is a codification of the circumstances under which a family law agreement may be set aside. For example, Section 18 of the Family Law Act states that the court may set aside an agreement if the court is satisfied in the determination that it would be unfair not to do so because a party did not understand the nature or consequences of the agreement. Meeting this test could be as simple as a party’s testimony or affidavit evidence. Because of the changes proposed with respect to the enforceability of family law agreements, it would be wise to revisit any co-habitation or other family law agreements that are presently in force.

One welcome provision in the Family Law Act is the treatment of family debt. The Act provides that, subject to an agreement or order that provides otherwise, spouses are both entitled to family property and are responsible for family debt, regardless of their respective use or contribution.

Family property is defined as all real property and personal property that, on the date the spouses separate, is owned by at least one spouse or in which at least one spouse has a beneficial interest, and includes after acquired property that is derived from the pre-separation property. Hence, if one party took pre-separation property and sold it and subsequently acquired new property after the separation property, that new property would be included within the family property framework and be subject to division.

The Family Law Act treats parties who have lived together for two years or more in essentially the same manner as married couples. Furthermore, if you live together for less than one year, but have a child together, you are also treated the same as married couples.

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