Family Relationships

From Clicklaw Wikibooks

People in virtually any kind of relationship can find themselves having a problem involving family law. Some people are married, others have lived together long enough to qualify as spouses without being married, while others are in shorter relationships, perhaps lasting for only one night, which produce children.

Family law isn't just about relationships between spouses or parents. It also concerns the relationships between grandchildren and grandparents, between nieces and nephews and aunts and uncles, and between children and other adults with significant roles in their lives

The first chapter focuses on the different kinds of family relationships recognized by the Family Law Act. In this first section we take a look at the range of family relationships, and examine how the law impacts on people in these relationships. We also discuss some urban myths about married and unmarried relationships. The other sections in this chapter go into more detail about the legal rights and duties involved in married relationships, unmarried spousal relationships, and relationships involving unmarried people who have had a child but never lived together. The final section talks about the claims a child's caregivers and extended family members can make. Everything in this chapter applies just as much to same sex couples as it does to opposite-sex couples.

The second chapter addresses the different rights and responsibilities that different couples married and unmarried couples that have cohabited for two years or more have and owe compared to other people. We learn that there is very little difference anymore in the rights an obligations of married persons and those that have cohabited in a marriage-like relationship for two years or more. This chapter also discusses the rights of persons that live together for less than two years, which pertain to children, protection orders and spousal support if there are children born of the relationship.

The third chapter addresses common misunderstandings regarding married and unmarried relationships while the fourth chapter deals with adoption and assisted reproduction. Additional links and resources are provided in the fifth chapter.

Introduction[edit]

Being in a family relationship can create legal obligations in addition to the moral and social obligations that we usually associate with a family relationship. Under the old common law, for example, a husband had the legal duty to provide his wife and children with shelter, food, and the other basic necessities of life. Although this obligation still exists under the federal Criminal Code, it has not been a part of the legislation on family law since the English Divorce and Matrimonial Causes Act was passed in 1857. As society has evolved, so have the obligations triggered by different kinds of family relationships.

Family law in British Columbia deals with four kinds of family relationships:

  • Married spouses: People who are married spouses have been wed at a ceremony conducted by someone licensed by the province to perform marriages. Married relationships end when a court makes an order for the spouses’ divorce.
  • Unmarried spouses: People who are unmarried spouses have lived with each other in a "marriage-like relationship" for a certain minimum amount of time; this is the sort of relationship people mean when they talk about "common-law spouses." The relationships of unmarried spouses end when they separate. Unmarried spouses do not need to get a divorce.
  • Unmarried parents: Unmarried parents are people who have had a child together but never lived together. Unmarried parents might include people who have helped someone have a child through assisted reproduction, like being an egg donor, a sperm donor, or a surrogate mother, depending on what an assisted reproduction agreement might say about who’s a parent and who’s not. Unmarried parents also include people who were in a dating or casual relationship and have had a child.
  • Children’s caregivers and extended family: Extended family members and other adults may have a parent-like relationship with a child who is not their biological child. This might include grandparents, aunts and uncles, and other people who have had a significant role in raising a child.

Married spouses[edit]

To be able to marry, the parties must be, among other things, unmarried, sane, relatively sober, and over a certain age. They must also be married by a person properly licensed to conduct marriages, who is either a civil marriage commissioner or an authorized religious official. The process for getting married in British Columbia is described in detail in the Marriage & Married Spouses section of this chapter, which has more information about the law relating to marriage.

Living together[edit]

Many, if not most, people who marry live together before they tie the knot. It is important to know that a lot of the rules about property and debt under the provincial Family Law Act are based on when a married couple began to live together, if that date is earlier than the date of marriage.

Marriage[edit]

The law about marriage has changed enormously over the last three centuries; marriage once had a much more important legal significance than it does today. Before about 1890, a married couple was legally considered to be one person. A husband took ownership of all of his wife's property on marriage and could use his wife's assets as collateral for loans. His wife, on the other hand, lost the ability to hold a bank account in her own name, sell her property without her husband's consent, or start a law suit or run a business in her own name. In contrast, women who hadn't married could own property in their own names, have bank accounts, sue and be sued, and run a business.

The institution of marriage was once of such social significance that people could be sued for attempting to interfere with a married couple's relationship. Until 1972, it was a civil offence to falsely boast that you were married to someone (called jactitation of marriage) or to lure a spouse away from a married relationship (called criminal conversation), and a court proceeding could be brought against someone for loss of the benefits of marriage (called loss of consortium).

All of these old rules are now extinguished in British Columbia and married couples are no longer considered to be a single legal person, with the husband having sovereign rights over his wife and her property. Since 1978, married women have had exactly the same property rights that single women have, which also happen to be the same property rights that their husbands have. A husband can no longer apply for credit in his wife's name or use her property as collateral for a loan without her express permission. On top of this, the old rules restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples have now been abolished, first by the courts and then as a result of the federal Civil Marriage Act.

If there's a difference between married and unmarried spousal relationships (apart from the religious dimensions), it's probably that marriage often implies a greater sense of personal commitment to the relationship and a willingness to treat the relationship as a true partnership. Marriage suggests something more permanent than an unmarried relationship. It may signal a personal dedication to nurturing the relationship and a willingness to stick it out through the good times and the bad.

Under the law of British Columbia, however, the most significant difference between married and unmarried spousal relationships is that only married spouses need a divorce or an annulment to end their relationship.

Annulment[edit]

If one or more of the requirements of a valid marriage are lacking, a marriage may be cancelled, or annulled. To obtain an annulment, one of the parties must begin a court proceeding asking for a declaration that the marriage is void. A marriage may be annulled if:

  • a female spouse was under the age of 12 or a male spouse was under the age of 14 (the common law ages of puberty),
  • one or both of the spouses did not consent to the marriage,
  • a male spouse is impotent or a female spouse is sterile going into the marriage,
  • the marriage cannot be consummated,
  • the marriage was a sham, or
  • one or both of the spouses agreed to marry as a result of fraud or misrepresentation.

You can find more information about void marriages, voidable marriages, and annulment in this chapter's section on Marriage & Married Spouses.

Separation[edit]

Separation is simple: the parties must simply start living "separate and apart" from each other, whether under the same roof or in separate homes. Contrary to popular opinion, you do not need to see a lawyer, sign something, or file some sort of document in court to obtain a separation. You just need to call it quits and tell your spouse that it's over.

For married spouses, separation may signal the breakdown of their emotional relationship but it doesn't end their legal relationship. To do this, one or both spouses must apply to court for a divorce.

Divorce[edit]

Divorce is the legal termination of a valid marriage. To obtain a divorce, one or both spouses must begin a court proceeding asking for a divorce order, and at least one of the spouses must have been ordinarily resident in British Columbia for the year before starting the court proceedings.

The court will make a divorce order if the married relationship has broken down. Under the federal Divorce Act, there are three ways to prove marriage breakdown:

  1. the spouses have been separated for at least one year,
  2. one of the spouses committed adultery, or
  3. one of the spouses treated the other spouse with such mental or physical cruelty that the relationship cannot continue.

It is possible to oppose an application for a divorce order, although this rarely happens. In general, once one of the grounds for marriage breakdown has been established, the courts will allow the divorce application, regardless of any objections raised by the other spouse.

Unmarried spouses[edit]

Section 3(1) of the provincial Family Law Act defines spouse as including married spouses as well as:

  1. people who have lived in a marriage-like relationship for at least two years, and
  2. people who have lived in a marriage-like relationship for less than two years and have had a child together.

Unmarried spouses who have lived together for at least two years have all of the same rights and obligations under the Family Law Act as married spouses.

Unmarried spouses who have lived together for less than two years don't qualify as spouses for the parts of the act that talk about dividing property and debt, but they are spouses for the parts about spousal support and the child support obligations of stepparents.

The federal Divorce Act doesn't apply to unmarried relationships, whether the parties are spouses under provincial law or not.

Living together[edit]

The relationship between unmarried spouses begins on the date they begin to live together in a "marriage-like relationship." This might be the date that a couple who are dating moves in together, or it might be the date that a relationship between housemates becomes a romantic, committed relationship.

This chapter's section on Unmarried Spouses talks about when a relationship becomes "marriage-like" in nature.

Separation[edit]

Unmarried spouses are separated when they begin to live "separate and apart" from each other, whether under the same roof or in separate homes. Contrary to popular opinion, you do not need to see a lawyer, sign something, or file some sort of document in court to obtain a separation. You just need to call it quits and tell your spouse that it's over, and then start acting like it's over.

For unmarried spouses, separation is the end of their emotional and legal relationship with each other. Unmarried spouses do not need to get divorced.

Other unmarried relationships[edit]

The other group of people the Family Law Act talks about is parents, and this group is broader than a lot of people might think. Family law doesn't have much to do with people who are just dating and don't have a child together.

Parents through natural reproduction[edit]

Under s. 26, a child's parents are presumed to be the child's birth mother and biological father. This includes everyone who is a mother or a father, regardless of the nature of the parents' relationship with each other. They could be married spouses or unmarried spouses, dating each other or not dating at all.

Parents through assisted reproduction[edit]

When one or two people need the help of others to have a child, some additional rules apply:

  • the one or two people who want to have the child, the intended parents, are parents,
  • the donor of sperm or an egg is not a parent, unless everyone has signed an assisted reproduction agreement that makes the donor a parent, and
  • a surrogate mother is a parent, unless everyone has signed an assisted reproduction agreement that makes her not a parent.

If you do the math, you'll see that under the Family Law Act a child can have up to five parents. The act doesn't discriminate between parents who are intended parents and parents who are donors or surrogate mothers. In for a penny, in for a pound, as the saying goes: a parent under an assisted reproduction agreement is liable to pay child support just like every other parent, but is also presumed to be the guardian of a child under s. 39(3).

Caregivers and extended family relationships[edit]

Other people can have a legal relationship with a child in addition to people who are parents. Most of the time these people are extended family members who have had a parent-like relationship with a child, such as a grandparent, an aunt or an uncle, or even a much older sibling, but any adult who has had a parenting role in a child's life may have an interest in a child.

This kind of legal relationship plays out in one of two ways. Where a child's parents are doing a good enough job, an extended family member might want contact with the child, if time with the child is being withheld. Section 59(2) of the Family Law Act says this:

A court may grant contact to any person who is not a guardian, including, without limiting the meaning of "person" in any other provision of this Act or a regulation made under it, to a parent or grandparent.

Where a child's guardians are no longer in the picture or if there's a concern about the child's welfare with their guardians, an extended family member might also apply for guardianship of the child. Section 51(1)(a) merely says that the court may appoint "a person" as a child's guardian, and an extended family member is certainly a person.

Different rights and responsibilities[edit]

Married spouses and unmarried spouses[edit]

Married spouses and unmarried spouses who have lived together for at least two years have exactly the same rights in British Columbia under the provincial Family Law Act. Both may:

  • be the guardians of any children they happen to have, and as guardians have parental responsibilities and parenting time with respect to those children,
  • have contact with a child if they happen not to be guardians,
  • ask for or be responsible to pay child support,
  • ask for or be responsible to pay spousal support,
  • share in family property and any family debt, and
  • apply for protection orders if they feel they are at risk of family violence.

The only legal differences between married spouses and unmarried spouses who have lived together for at least two years are that only married spouses must get a divorce to end their relationship with one another, and only married spouses can ask the court for orders under the federal Divorce Act. That's it.

The only legal difference between unmarried spouses who have lived together for at least two years and unmarried spouses who have lived together for less than two years is that couples who have lived together for less than two years aren't able to share in family property and family debt under the Family Law Act. They may:

  • be the guardians of their children, and as guardians have parental responsibilities and parenting time with respect to those children,
  • have contact with a child if they happen not to be guardians,
  • ask for or be responsible to pay child support,
  • ask for or be responsible to pay spousal support, and
  • apply for protection orders if they feel they are at risk of family violence.

Although unmarried spouses who have lived together for less than two years are cut out of the part of the act that deals with property and debt, they still share in property they jointly own and they can make claims to property owned only by one spouse under the law of trusts and the law of equity. These claims are discussed in the introductory section of the Property & Debt chapter.

Other unmarried relationships[edit]

Although people who are not spouses can have all sorts of legal relationships with each other, from co-owning land or running a business together, from a family law perspective, in general their most important relationship is as parents. Parents may:

  • be the guardians of their children, and as guardians have parental responsibilities and parenting time with respect to those children,
  • have contact with a child,
  • ask for or be responsible to pay child support, and
  • apply for protection orders if they feel they are at risk of family violence.

Like unmarried spouses who have lived together for less than two years, couples who are not spouses still share in property they jointly own, and they can make claims to property owned only by one spouse under the law of trusts and the law of equity. These claims are discussed in the introductory section of the Property & Debt chapter.

Couples who are not spouses, not parents, and do not live together cannot apply for protection orders under the Family Law Act.

Children's caregivers and extended family[edit]

Adults with an interest in a child who is not theirs may:

  • ask to be appointed as the guardian of a child, and as a guardian have parental responsibilities and parenting time with respect to that child,
  • have contact with a child, and
  • ask for child support.

A few surprisingly common misunderstandings[edit]

Certain misconceptions about what marriage, unmarried relationships, separation and divorce involve are fairly common. Part of these misunderstandings, I'm sure, come from television and movies. Others are just urban myths.

Married relationships[edit]

Marriage and getting married[edit]

It is not true that an unmarried couple is automatically "married" once they've lived together for a certain amount of time. A unmarried couple is never legally married unless they have actually had a marriage ceremony. There is no such thing as a "common-law marriage."

You are not legally married unless you have a marriage ceremony and the ceremony is conducted by someone authorized by the provincial government to perform marriages. Your car mechanic can marry you, if your car mechanic is a marriage commissioner, but your Wiccan high priestess cannot legally marry you unless she also happens to be a licensed marriage commissioner.

Las Vegas marriages and other sorts of quickie marriages are valid and binding marriages, as long as the marriages meet the criteria for valid marriages, discussed in the next section. If you want to undo the marriage, you'll have to get divorced just like every other person in a valid marriage, and that will usually mean waiting until one year has passed since your separation. An alcohol-induced Las Vegas marriage was upheld in the very funny 2005 Supreme Court case of Davison v. Sweeney, 2005 BCSC 757, simply because the spouses knew what they were doing when they married, despite the fact that they had never had sex and separated two days after the marriage, when their respective holidays ended.

Separation and the "legal separation"[edit]

There is no such thing as a "legal separation" in British Columbia, nor is it possible to be "legally separated." Whether you're in an unmarried relationship or a marriage, you are separated the moment you decide that the relationship is over. That's it, there's no magic to it. When you or your partner announces that the relationship is over and there's no chance of getting back together, boom, you're separated. Congratulations.

To be crystal clear:

  • you do not need to "file for separation" to be separated, in fact, there's no such thing in British Columbia as "filing for separation," despite what you might see on the websites of the people who sell do-it-yourself legal kits,
  • there are no court documents or other papers you have to sign to be separated, and
  • you don't need to appear before a judge, lawyer, shaman or anyone else to be separated.

To be separated, you just need to decide that your relationship is over and say so.

The fact that a married couple is separated isn't enough to let a separated spouse remarry. You must be formally divorced by an order of the court in order to remarry. If you remarry without being divorced from the first marriage, the new marriage will be invalid.

On the other hand, the fact that you're separated won't stop you from having a new relationship, including a new relationship that would qualify as a spousal relationship. Technically, this is adultery, but no one except the Pope or your in-laws is likely to care. There's a lot more information about new relationships after separation in this chapter's section on Separation.

Divorce and getting divorced[edit]

As far as divorce is concerned, a court must make an order for your divorce or you'll never be divorced. You can have been separated from your spouse for twenty years, but unless a court has actually made an order for your divorce, you'll still be married. It'd be nice (and cheaper) if the passage of time gave rise to an automatic divorce, but it doesn't work that way.

It is not true that you need to have a separation agreement to get a divorce. Separation agreements are helpful to record a settlement of the issues arising when a couple separates, like the division of property or the payment of support and so forth, but they're not a requirement of the divorce process. You especially don't need a separation agreement if the only issue is whether you'll get a divorce order or not.

It is not true that you remain married if your spouse dies. Once that happens, your marriage is at an end. You don't need to get divorced, the sands of time have done that for you.

It is also not true that a lack of sex in your relationship automatically ends your marriage, allows the marriage to be declared void, or is otherwise a ground of divorce. Sex has very little to do with divorce, just as it often has little to do with marriage. A lack of sex may spell the end of a relationship and spur a couple's separation, but at law whether you and your spouse are having sex or not is irrelevant.

The one exception to this last rule has to do with the "consummation" of the marriage, and this exception doesn't mean what most people think it means. A marriage does not need to be consummated to be a valid, binding marriage. In order to escape a marriage on this ground, you or your partner must, I kid you not, have an "invincible repugnance" to the act of sexual intercourse or some physical condition that makes sex impossible.

Unmarried spousal relationships[edit]

The automatic marriage[edit]

It is not true that a unmarried couple are automatically married once they've lived together for a certain amount of time, nor is there any such thing as a "common-law marriage." You can have lived together for twenty years and still not be legally married; an unmarried couple is never married unless there is an actual marriage ceremony performed by someone licensed to perform marriages.

Applying for spousal status[edit]

A couple become spouses when they qualify as a "spouse" under whatever law applies; for most federal laws the couple must have lived together for at least one year, and for most provincial laws the couple must have lived together for at least two years. There's no application to make and no one to apply to. It's all about meeting the definition of "spouse."

The accidental spouse[edit]

It is not true that you become unmarried spouses simply by living with someone for long enough. You must be living together in a "marriage-like relationship" to become unmarried spouses; mere roommates will not become spouses by accident. There wouldn't be any frat houses if this wasn't the case.

Likewise, a dating couple won't become spouses if they have a child. They must also be living together in a "marriage-like relationship."

Separation and the "legal separation"[edit]

There is no such thing as a "legal separation" in British Columbia, nor is it possible to be "legally separated." Whether you're in a unmarried relationship, a marriage, or you're just dating, you are separated the moment you decide that the relationship is over. That's it, there's no magic to it. When you or your partner leaves, boom, you're separated.

Getting divorced[edit]

Unmarried spouses do not need to be divorced. Once you've decided to separate, the relationship is over, regardless of how long the relationship may have been. There is no need to get a divorce because there's no marriage to terminate.

Adoption and Assisted Reproduction[edit]

Adoption and assisted reproduction are non-conventional methods of becoming parents provided for by BC law.

Adoption[edit]

Adoption is a Court process under the "Adoption Act" which makes a non-biological parent of a child into his/her legal parent. That means they suddenly have all the rights and obligation of the child’s parent. If a biological parent is not expressly kept as a parent during this process, they no longer have any parental rights or obligations after an Adoption Order is made by the Supreme Court of BC. This means they don’t pay support, and the child is no longer entitled to inherit from them. They may be able to continue to have ‘access’ to have some sort of relationship with the child if either the Adoption Order, or some other Order made later, allows this. The child can inherit from the adopting parent once the Order is made. If the new parenting relationship breaks down, the adopting parent can claim the same rights as a biological parent to have the child reside with them, participate in parenting decisions, and to receive or pay child support. If this happens, disputes are handled in the same way as for biological parents, using the "Divorce Act" or "Family Law Act".

Assisted Reproduction[edit]

Assisted reproduction is a term that applies to an array of methods of having a baby in ways other than the traditional method. Examples include situations where there is only one parent who wishes to have a child, if one partner is incapable of having children, if same sex partners wish to have a child or if a couple wish to include another person as the parent of their child. The methods include egg donation, sperm donation and surrogacy.

Resources and links[edit]

Legislation[edit]

Links[edit]


This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by Stephen Wright and Michael Sinclair, July 31, 2018.


Creativecommonssmall.png JP Boyd on Family Law © John-Paul Boyd and Courthouse Libraries BC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada Licence.

Normally referred to as the "Supreme Court of British Columbia," this court hears most court proceedings in this province. The Supreme Court is a court of inherent jurisdiction and is subject to no limits on the sorts of claims it can hear or on the sorts of orders it can make. Decisions of the Provincial Court are appealed to the Supreme Court; decisions of the Supreme Court are appealed to the Court of Appeal. See "Court of Appeal," "jurisdiction," "Provincial Court" and "Supreme Court of Canada."

A court established and staffed by the provincial government, which includes Small Claims Court, Youth Court and Family Court. The Provincial Court is the lowest level of court in British Columbia and is restricted in the sorts of matters it can deal with. It is, however, the most accessible of the two trial courts and no fees are charged to begin or defend a court proceeding. Small Claims Court, for example, cannot deal with claims larger than $25,000, and Family Court cannot deal with the division of family property or matters under the Divorce Act. See "judge" and "jurisdiction."

A person who is younger than the legal age of majority, 19 in British Columbia. See "age of majority."

In family law, the quality of an unmarried couple's relationship that demonstrates their commitment to each other, their perception of themselves as a couple and their willingness to sacrifice individual advantages for the advantage of themselves as a couple; a legal requirement for a couple to be considered spouses without marrying. See "cohabitation," "marriage" and "spouse."

Money paid by one spouse to another spouse either as a contribution toward the spouse's living expenses or to compensate the spouse for the economic consequences of decisions made by the spouses during their relationship.

In family law, the act or process of taking another person's child as one's own. The child becomes the adopting parent's legal child as if the child were the adopting parent's natural child, while the natural parent loses all rights and obligations with respect to the child. See "natural parent."

The legal principle under which courts are bound to follow the principles established by previous courts in similar cases dealing with similar facts; the system of justice used in non-criminal cases in all provinces and territories except Quebec.

An obligation at law to do or not do a thing, whether by legislation, the common law or an order of the court. For example, the Criminal Code imposes a legal duty on parents that requires them to provide the necessities of life to their children until they turn 16. See "duty."

A duty, whether contractual, moral or legal in origin, to do or not do something. See "duty."

An act; a statute; a written law made by a government. See "regulations."

A mandatory direction of the court, binding and enforceable upon the parties to a court proceeding. An "interim order" is a temporary order made following the hearing of an interim application. A "final order" is a permanent order, made following the trial of the court proceeding or the parties' settlement, following which the only recourse open to a dissatisfied party is to appeal. See "appeal," "consent order," "decision" and "declaration."

The legal termination of a valid marriage by an order of a judge; the ending of a marital relationship and the conjugal obligations of each spouse to the other. See "conjugal rights," "marriage," and "marriage, validity of."

A person gives something as a gift or as a bequest, freely and without expectation of payment in return.

In family law, the natural or adoptive father or mother of a child; may also include stepparents, depending on the circumstances and the applicable legislation; may include the donors of eggs or sperm and surrogate mothers, depending on the circumstances and the terms of any assisted reproduction agreement. See "adoptive parent," "natural parent" and "stepparent."

A legal relationship between two persons, whether of the same or opposite genders, that is solemnized by a marriage commissioner or licenced religious official and gives rise to certain mutual rights, benefits and obligations. See also "conjugal rights," "consortium" and "marriage, validity of."

Something which can be owned. See "chattels" and "real property."

A sum of money or an obligation owed by one person to another. A "debtor" is a person responsible for paying a debt; a "creditor" is the person to whom the debt is owed.

A legal right to have and use a thing that is enforceable in court. See "possession."

Agreement; the giving of permission for a thing to happen or not happen.

In law, a court proceeding, a lawsuit, a legal action, a case; a claimant's claim against a respondent. In fashion, menswear designed to inflict maximum discomfort at maximum cost. See "action."

Under the Divorce Act, either of two people who are married to one another, whether of the same or opposite genders. Under the Family Law Act, married spouses, unmarried parties who have lived together in a marriage-like relationship for at least two years, and, for all purposes of the act other than the division of property or debt, unmarried parties who have lived together for less than two years but have had a child together. See "marriage" and "marriage-like relationship."

A legal proceeding in which one party sues another for a specific remedy or relief, also called an "action," a "lawsuit" or a "case." A court proceeding for divorce, for example, is a proceeding in which the claimant sues the respondent for the relief of a divorce order.

The marital relationship between spouses, specifically the right of each spouse to the company and aid of the other. See "conjugal rights."

A declaration by a judge that a marriage is invalid. The effect of such a declaration is to cancel the marriage from the moment it took place, as if the marriage never occurred. See "ab initio," "declaration" and "marriage, validity of."

In law, a pronouncement of the court about a fact or a state of affairs, such as a declaration that a marriage is void or that a person is the guardian of a child. Not to be confused with an order, which is a mandatory direction of the court requiring a party to do or not do something. See "order."

Acts or words tending or intended to give a misleading or false impression as to the true state of affairs. See "bad faith."

A person licensed to practice law in a particular jurisdiction. See "barrister and solicitor."

In family law, the decision of one or both parties to terminate a married or unmarried relationship; the act of one person leaving the family home to live somewhere else with the intention of terminating the relationship. There is no such thing as a "legal separation." In general, one separates by simply moving out, however it is possible to be separated but still live under the same roof. See "divorce, grounds of."

A married person's voluntary sexual intercourse with a person other than their spouse; playing the field; fishing out of season. Proof of adultery is grounds for an immediate divorce, providing that the other spouse has not consented to or forgiven the adulterous act. See "collusion," "condonation," and "divorce, grounds of."

In family law, the physical, verbal, emotional or mental abuse of one married spouse by the other. Proof of cruelty is grounds for an immediate divorce, providing that the other spouse has not forgiven the adulterous act. See "condonation" and "divorce, grounds of"

A request to the court that it make a specific order, usually on an interim or temporary basis, also called a "chambers application" or a "motion." See also "interim application" and "relief."

Intentionally doing a thing; a law passed by a government, also called "legislation" or a "statute." See "regulations."

Money paid by one parent or guardian to another parent or guardian as a contribution toward the cost of a child's living and other expenses.

A term under the Family Law Act that describes the visitation rights of a person who is not a guardian with a child. Contact may be provided by court order or by the agreement among the child's guardians who have parental responsibility for determining contact. See "guardian" and "parental responsibilities."

A person charged with the legal care of someone under a legal disability. A term under the Family Law Act referring to a person, including a parent, who is responsible for the care and upbringing of a child through the exercise of parental responsibilities. See "disability," "parental responsibilities" and "parenting time."

A term under the Family Law Act which describes the various rights, duties and responsibilities exercised by guardians in the care, upbringing and management of the children in their care, including determining the child's education, diet, religious instruction or lack thereof, medical care, linguistic and cultural instruction, and so forth. See "guardian."

A term under the Family Law Act which describes the time a guardian has with a child and during which is responsible for the day to day care of the child. See "guardian."

A term under the Family Law Act referring to property acquired by either or both spouses during their relationship, as well as after separation if bought with family property. Both spouses are presumed to be equally entitled to share in family property. See "excluded property."

A term under the Family Law Act referring to debt owed by either or both spouses that accumulated during the spouses' relationship, as well as after separation if used to maintain family property. Both spouses are presumed to be equally liable for family debt.

Real property; a parcel of real property and the buildings upon it. See also "chattel," "ownership" and "possession."

A form of marriage without government or church licence, and often without ceremony, in which a couple acquired certain rights and obligations toward each other under the common law, banned as a result of the 1753 English Marriage Act. Common-law marriages have never been lawful in British Columbia. See "unmarried spouse."

In law, a requirement or obligation to honour and abide by something, such as a contract or order of the court. A judge's order is "binding" in the sense that it must be obeyed or a certain punishment will be imposed. Also refers to the principle that a higher court's decision on a point of law must be adopted by a lower court. See "contempt of court" and "precedent."

A person appointed by the federal or provincial government to manage and decide court proceedings in an impartial manner, independent of influence by the parties, the government or agents of the government. The decisions of a judge are binding upon the parties to the proceeding, subject to appeal.

A contract intended to resolve all or some of the legal issues arising from the breakdown of a relationship and intended to guide the parties in their dealings with one another thereafter. A typical separation agreement is signed following a settlement reached through negotiations and deals with issues including guardianship, parenting arrangements, contact, support, the division of property and the division of debt. See "family law agreements."

A resolution of one or more issues in a court proceeding or legal dispute with the agreement of the parties to the proceeding or dispute, usually recorded in a written agreement or in an order that all parties agree the court should make. A court proceeding can be settled at any time before the conclusion of trial. See "action," "consent order," "family law agreements" and "offer."

Under the Divorce Act, the schedule of a parent's time with their children under an order or agreement. Access usually refers to the schedule of the parent with the least time with the child. See "custody."

The assertion of a legal right to an order or to a thing; the remedy or relief sought by a party to a court proceeding.

Personal tools
Namespaces

Variants
Actions
Site
Tools
Contributors
Print/export