By Appointment Only
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British Columbia's Family and Criminal Law office located in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada


A "spousal relationship" includes both a married and an unmarried "common-law" relationship.

Generally, if you've lived with your partner for at least 2 years continuously, then the law will impose certain rights and obligations on you and your partner.

A person with family law issues may have questions such as:

  • How much time per week may my child live with me?
  • How much child support do I owe?
  • How much spousal support should I be receiving?
  • How do I protect myself and/or my child from my partner?
  • Am I allowed to relocate with my child to another city, province, or country?
  • Who gets to keep the house?
  • Does my Ex have rights to my pension?
  • My Ex liquidated our bank accounts, what can I do?
  • The Ministry of Child and Family Development (MCFD) has been contacting me, what do I do?

The questions above typically translate into the following family law issues:

  • Division of Family Property
  • Spousal Support (Alimony)
  • Child Support
  • Protection from Family Violence (Protection / Restraining Order)
  • Financial Restraining Order / Injunction
  • Care of Children: Custody / Guardianship / Parenting Arrangements / Parenting Responsibilities / Parenting Time
  • Child Protection (Continuing Custody Order, Temporary Custody Order, Supervision Order)

Relevant Law

In most cases, the pertinent legislation are: the Divorce Act, the Family Law Act, the Child Family and Community Service Act, or the Federal Child Support Guidelines. Although not technically legislation, the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines is also pertinent. In addition, the common-law principles and the rules of court apply.

Family law is not separate from other areas of law. For example, the law of estates, corporate law, the law of contracts, bankruptcy, and criminal law are often engaged in family law cases.

The courts interprets the law. This enables flexibility so as to address the unique facts of your case. The art of advocacy is successfully present the facts of your case to the court and to opposing counsel so that a fair solution may be determined.

Methods used to Resolve Family Law Disputes

Resolving family law issues is all about effective negotiation. Litigation is the tool (e.g., obtaining financial disclosure or interim orders as a strategy) or "threat" hovering in the background (e.g., possible trial and associated expenses, stress, and penalty of costs) that enables effective negotiation.

Time in court tends to be expensive and precious. The court system attempts to ensure that only the most contentious matters reach trial. As such, the Provincial Court and Supreme Court rules both require settlement conferences to be conducted before scheduling trial dates (i.e.,"Family Case Conference" and "Judicial Case Conference").

Settlement meetings out of court are often useful provided that both parties are truly desirous of reaching a solution. This is typically called "Alternative Dispute Resolution" and includes "Collaborative Law", "Mediation", "Arbitration", and "Negotiation". 

The resolution of a family law dispute will usually result in the creation of a "Memorandum of Understanding", "Minutes of Settlement", "Separation Agreement", and/or "Court Order".

The art of negotiation is finding a solution that adequately (and ideally optimally) meet both parties' needs - the difficulty is that in many cases, the parties' needs tend to initially appear to be quite different.

The art of advocacy is presenting the facts of your case to the court in a manner that is comprehensible and compelling.

For general information, we encourage you to visit the Chiu BC Family Lawyer Blog

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