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When the people in a relationship break up, they may have to decide how a child <span class="noglossary">will</span> be cared for, how property should be divided, and whether someone needs extra money to help pay the bills. Family law, sometimes also called divorce law or the law on domestic relations, is the area of the law that deals with problems like these.
To understand how family law works in British Columbia, you need to have a basic understanding of the legal system, the law about family law problems, and how the courts apply the law when a couple can't agree about something. Since it isn't always necessary to go to court when there's a problem, you also need to know about negotiation, mediation and arbitration. These are other ways that people can solve their problems without going to see a judge.
Family law problems are resolved in one of two ways:
couple bargain with each other and come up with a solution that they both agree to; or, # the couple can't agree and they have to ask someone else to come up with a solution, usually by going to court or to an arbitrator.
Going to court means that one or both people have or will start a court proceeding. (Court proceedings are also known as ''lawsuits'', ''claims'' or ''actions''.) Going to court is called ''litigation''; trying to come up with an agreement without going to court is called ''negotiation''. Mediation is a kind of negotiation. Arbitration is like going to a private court where you get to pick the judge.