Family law issues and are often emotional and complicated.

Whether it be obtaining a divorce, discerning paternity, or drawing up a prenuptial agreement, navigating family legal matters can be a daunting experience.  At Pax Law, our seasoned family lawyers mitigate the stress associated with family disputes by simplifying and streamlining the process. With a thoughtful and progressive approach, we will help you identify your goals and work tirelessly with you to achieve them.

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Common Terminology

Separation & Divorce

According to the law in British Columbia, a couple is considered to be separated when they cease living in a marriage-like relationship; that is when they stop engaging in intercourse, refrain from attending events and gatherings as a couple, and start living as single individuals again. When unmarried couples separate, no further steps are required for either party to be considered legally separate – there is no paper to be filed, and no document to be submitted to the court. The relationship of married spouses, however, is not contractually over until divorce papers are signed, one party passes away, or the marriage is annulled.

Child Protection & Child Removal

Child protection is the process of protecting individual children identified as either suffering or likely to suffer significant harm as a result of abuse or neglect. If a child’s safety is at risk, the Ministry of Children and Family Development (or an Indigenous-delegated agency) must investigate the situation. If deemed necessary, the ministry will remove the child from the home until alternate arrangements can be made and court proceedings have begun.

Family Violence & Abuse

As unfortunate and undesirable as it may be, spousal or child abuse is fairly common. We understand that due to cultural backgrounds or other personal reasons, many families tend to avoid seeking legal advice or consultation. However, based on over four decades of experience as family lawyers in the Lower Mainland, we are mindful of how important it is to take action as soon as a problem begins to surface.

Parenting, Custody, & Access

Parenting includes contact with a child, guardianship, parental responsibilities, and parenting time (BC Family Law Act), access and custody (federal Divorce Act), and covers who has the right and responsibility to make decisions about the child, and guardians’ and non-guardians’ time with the child.

Unmarried Spouses & Common Law

The legal rights and responsibilities that people in an unmarried relationship owe to each other, and the government benefits to which they might be entitled, vary depending on which legislation has standing. For example, the federal Income Tax Act defines “spouse” as people who have cohabited for one year, while the provincial Employment and Assistance Act defines “spouse” as people living together for as little as three months if a welfare caseworker believes that their relationship demonstrates “financial dependence or interdependence, and social and familial interdependence.”

“Unmarried spouses” or common-law partners are not considered legally married. Being married involves a formal ceremony and certain other legal requirements, like a marriage license. Without the ceremony and license, unmarried spouses will never be legally married, regardless of how long they have cohabited.