Family Law

Shim Law offers a wide range of family law services in Alberta. These include, but are not limited to, divorce, child custody, ongoing/retroactive child support, on-going/retroactive spousal support, division of matrimonial property, parenting & access, common law rights, drafting Divorce or Separation Agreements, drafting prenuptial Agreements, negotiation, mediation, arbitration, Child welfare including apprehension cases, mobility issues, jurisdictional conflicts, and domestic violence matters dealt with by Emergency Protection Orders and Restraining Orders.

Detailed description

  • Custody & Access: “Custody” usually refers to the decision making power or arrangements for the care and upbringing of a child. There are various types of custody: sole custody, joint custody, shared custody and split custody. Depending on the arrangements for the care or upbringing of a child, one can characterize the nature of custody. On the other hand, “Access” usually refers to visitation time or parenting time with a child. It can be either specific or general access depending on the circumstances.
 
  • Child Support: The financial support payment made by one parent to the other parent after separation or divorce. The child support amount is generally determined by the Federal Child Support Guidelines. There are two main factors to consider in determining the amount of child support: number of children and payor's income. There are two types of child support: section 3 and section 7 child support. Section 3 child support is determined by the Federal Child Support Guidelines. Section 7 child support usually refers to extraordinary expenses such as child care expenses, medical and dental insurance, health related expenses, school education or program, extracurricular activities. Child support is the entitlement of the child, not the recipient parent. The money should be used for the benefit of the child.
 
  • Child Welfare: when a child is apprehended by the Director due to safety concerns for the child, there may or may not be a reasonable and probable ground for such concern. If there is a valid concern for the well-being of the child, then the Director’s involvement is necessary. The Director’s authority comes from Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act, which provides guardianship, custody and access to the children who are in need of protection from their parents.
 
  • Division of Property: In Alberta, the Matrimonial Property Act governs the division of property upon the breakdown of the marriage. This piece of legislation can sometimes be complex to understand depending on the nature of the property, applicability of exemptions, etc.
 
  • Divorce: refers to the termination of the legal marriage. There are three grounds for divorce: one year separation immediately preceding the determination of divorce, adultery, physical and/or mental cruelty.  In order to get divorced, one must go through the court process in order to get a divorce judgment. A Divorce Judgment is a court order which terminates a marriage. Once the divorce process is complete, you will get a Certificate of Divorce from the Court.
 
  • Divorce or Separation Agreement: a written agreement by a couple who are planning to get separated or divorced. Those couples do not usually have a prenuptial agreement, so they have to come to an agreement as to, for example, custody & access, child support, spousal support and division of matrimonial property. The parties should obtain independent legal advice prior to the execution of the agreement.
 
  • Guardianship: refers to a legal right and duty to care for a dependent.
 
  • Mediation/Arbitration: a process whereby the parties can settle their issues outside of the courthouse. They can choose their own mediator and/or arbitrator to determine their own case. It can be more expeditious than the court process.
 
  • Prenuptial Agreement: a written agreement by a couple who are planning to live together or who are planning to marry. The agreement sets out the list of the assets and liabilities in order to figure out how they would like to divide their assets and liabilities upon the breakdown of the relationship. It can also include a provision for waiving any future financial support. The parties should obtain independent legal advice prior to execution of the agreement.
 
  • Restraining Order/Emergency Protection Order: an order that prohibits one from contacting another individual, spouse and/or child either directly or indirectly. It can include a police enforcement clause whereby the police may take the party in breach into custody.
 
  • Spousal Support: upon the breakdown of the relationship or marriage, one spouse supports another spouse to achieve self-sufficiency. Unlike Child Support, there are no legislated spousal support guidelines. The courts have considered various factors in order to determine the issue of spousal support. There are two main issues: entitlement of support, and quantum (amount) and duration of support. One has to establish that one spouse is entitled to receive support from the other spouse. Once entitlement is established, then one can argue for the amount and duration of support. Spousal support calculations can be complex and requires an analysis of the case law.