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Family Lawyers in Victoria, BC

Family Lawyers in VictoriaFamily disagreements are normal. However, when arguments turn into full-fledged disputes, the results can be devastating for a family.

Rather than permanently damaging relationships with loved ones, we believe there is always a way to reach a workable resolution.

Whether it’s a divorce matter involving child custody or support, parenting or guardianship issues or another family law matter, the support provided by an experienced, local family lawyer can be of great comfort to families in Victoria.

We aim to understand the family dynamics and guide you to a solution that works in your best interests so that everyone can get over difficult times and move on.

At Jennings Family Law in Victoria, we help you navigate tough days and bring stability back to you and your family.


Family Law Act in BC

The main legislation providing direction for family law issues in BC is the Family Law Act.

In the case of divorces in Victoria, the federal Divorce Act of Canada may also help to decide some matters for married couples.

The Family Law Act does address matters such as child support, spousal support, and the division of property and debt. However, besides divorce, it also provides guidance on:

  • Providing care for children in need of it
  • Decisions related to guardianship
  • Protecting people at risk of family violence
  • Helping to determine the parentage of a child
  • Enforcing court orders and agreements, and
  • Enabling assisted reproduction

Who is the Family Law Act aimed at?

Family law matters such as adoption, child protection, and wills and estate problems are beyond the scope of the Family Law Act. If you have questions regarding these matters, speak to one of our lawyers during a case evaluation.

The Act addresses family matters relating mainly to the following individuals:

  • Married or unmarried spouses
  • Parents of a child together
  • People who want guardianship of a child or manage their property
  • People who want contact with a child
  • Those at risk of family violence
  • Those having a child with assisted reproduction

One of the main purposes of the Act is to provide guidelines for solving family law problems so that differences can be settled out of court rather than taking up valuable court time.

Because of the language used and complexities that naturally arise in matters involving families, this is usually easier with the support of an experienced family lawyer.

The Family Law Act and children in BC

Unfortunately, children are often caught in the middle in family disputes. The Family Law Act recognizes this and provides considerable guidance on how to look after the best interests of children from a marriage or adult independent relationship. Parents, judges, and other decision-makers must make decisions regarding children with their welfare uppermost in the mind.

Parental responsibilities in Victoria

The parental responsibilities as detailed in the Family Law Act are directed at guardians of children as well as the biological parents.

Typical responsibilities of parents in Victoria include making decisions about:

  • Day-to-day care
  • Where the child will live
  • The child’s education, extracurricular activities, social activities, and healthcare
  • The child’s religion, language, culture and other issues of upbringing

It is preferable in most cases for parents to decide jointly on these important upbringing issues. This is the preference of the court unless either parent demonstrates an incapability to exercise good judgement in the best interests of the child.

Sole legal custody of a child may be awarded in exceptional cases, where one parent has sole decision-making responsibility for the child.

Has there been family violence?

In situations of family violence, the safety of children is the court’s priority. Their well-being must be protected at all costs.

Judges must assess the potential impact of family violence on the child, as well as the capacity for parents to care for the child, considering each of the following factors:

  • The severity and frequency of the violence
  • Whether violence has been directed towards the child
  • Physical, psychological and emotional harm inflicted
  • The impact of the violence on the safety and well-being of the child


What happens if you want to relocate with children?

If you have separated from your spouse and plan to move away to another location, it is important to bear in mind the laws regarding relocation as outlined in the Family Law Act.

  • If both parents are guardians and one parent wants to relocate with the child, he or she must provide the other parent with 60 days’ notice, stating the intended date and location.

This can be challenged in court by the other parent within 30 days of receiving the notice. The court will make a ruling based on the best interests of the child.

  • If one parent has legal custody of the child and the other has only visitation rights, the same 60-day notice period applies but the non-custodial parent has no legal right to challenge the relocation in court.

Child custody & support in Victoria, BC

Victoria Family Divorce LawyersFamilies in Victoria often dispute child custody and support when going through a separation or divorce.

They can be emotional matters so it helps to have the guidance and support of an experienced divorce lawyer during discussions.

Child custody

Physical custody refers to where the child spends most of his or her time while legal custody refers to the decision-making responsibilities for the child’s upbringing. Joint legal custody is generally preferable.

Decisions on legal custody and physical custody must take into account the physical, psychological and emotional safety, health, security and well-being of the child.

Child support

The parent who is the primary carer for a child may be entitled to receive support payments from the non-custodial parent. These payments assist in meeting the day-to-day requirements of raising the child.

Child support calculations consider the needs of the child and the income of the non-custodial parent. Amounts can be agreed upon in a court-approved separation agreement or ordered by the court.

Separation agreements in Victoria

In uncontested divorces, separation agreements provide a convenient way for the main matters to be handled amicably and restrict the need for court intervention.

If two spouses can agree on child custody, child support, property and debt division, and spousal support, a divorce is more likely to proceed with the minimum of stress, expense, and delays.

Spousal support

A key component of a separation agreement may be the amount of spousal support.

When relationships break down in BC, the courts want to ensure that the transition to the single life is as smooth as possible for each spouse.

Therefore, spousal support may be awarded if one spouse applies to the court and the court finds that the higher-earning spouse is capable of providing the support.

It usually takes the form of monthly payments but a lump-sum payment is sometimes authorized. These payments are treated separately from child support.

Respectful, caring & discreet family lawyers in Victoria

With our guidance, families make informed decisions and reduce the chance of conflict and court appearances in challenging situations.

Jennings Family Law provides legal, mediation, and arbitration resources to use independently or with the assistance of a lawyer.
Contact us today for a confidential consultation and case evaluation.

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