Court orders are part of the divorce process. Once they’re locked into place, the province of British Columbia has a vast array of sanctions they can levy against those who refuse to follow the court’s instructions. Some couples are in and out of family court for years, attempting to modify or fight over court orders that aren’t working for them.
That’s why it’s so important to get the right terms for your divorce the first time—to whatever extent is possible. However, circumstances do change, and legitimately so.
In addition, some Canada couples don’t ever get the orders they need, to their detriment. For example, many common law couples don’t realize that they’ll need to file a formal separation agreement in order to get court backing in regards to spousal support, child support, parenting time, and other major issues.
Here at Merchant Law, we are your full-service legal partners for life. If you must return to divorce court, we can help. We’ll also make sure you get court orders when you need them. Our advice can help no matter where you are in the family law process.
Obtaining Formal Separation Agreements
Common law couples need a separation agreement to formalize the terms of their split. Married couples will need one to guide their activities during the one year formal separation required by British Columbia law prior to beginning the divorce process.
Formalizing a separation agreement gives you recourse. It allows you to get court backing when your ex decides to simply stop paying their share of the bills after agreeing to pay them. It allows you to get child support agreements enforced. If you’re dividing property, it helps to show that you have a right to that property.
Don’t leave your assets and income to chance after you separate.
Challenging Prenuptial Agreements
The vast majority of prenuptial agreements are perfectly enforceable, but there are exceptions.
We can help you challenge an agreement when:
- The agreement no longer pertains to the assets and liabilities held by the couple.
- The agreement was unfair or unenforceable in the first place.
- You signed the agreement under duress, including in a climate of social coercion.
- You’ve learned that your spouse failed to disclose all assets and debts when you signed the agreement.
In these cases, the judge may either choose to modify the terms of your prenuptial agreement or toss it out altogether, forcing your spouse to negotiate with you anew.
Don’t have a prenuptial agreement yet? Did you know you can sign a postnuptial agreement after marriage that serves much the same purpose?
Modifying Child Support Orders
Most people want to support their children, but that doesn’t mean they always end up with realistic court orders. In addition, people pay child support for years. Sometimes they pay for close to two decades.
A great deal can change during that time. Jobs change. People get sick, or injured. Companies fail.
We can help you pursue a child support modification whenever this happens. We work closely with you to ensure the courts agree that these changes are legitimate and unavoidable, and that you are still doing everything in your power to support your child. This can help you avoid a situation where the judge declares you to be purposefully underemployed and unreasonably imputes income as a result.
Modifying Spousal Support Orders
There are many legitimate reasons for modifying spousal support orders.
- You’ve lost a significant portion of your income.
- Your spouse’s income has increased to a significant degree.
- Your spouse has remarried.
- Your order is set to terminate and you are seeking an extension.
If your spouse is able to support themselves there’s no reason to keep paying the same amount of spousal support. In some cases we may even be able to make a case that spousal support should end early.
Parenting Order Modifications
In British Columbia, all parenting orders are written with one goal in mind: protecting the best interests of the children. Children’s needs change over the years, as do the life circumstances of their parents.
All this means that there are times when it might be a good idea to revisit the parenting plan and put new orders into place when it makes sense to do so.
If parents have successfully co-parented together for years then they may be able to come to an agreement on their own, which the court will then review and approve. If not, they may need to argue their point of view before a judge before a modification will be granted.
Either way, our team helps put you in the strongest possible position so that you can protect your children throughout their entire lives.
Get Help Today
Founding partner Anthony Merchant is the Associate Editor of the Carswell Reports of Family Law. He’s also been published extensively in the Canadian Family Law Quarterly. He is a member of the Advisory Board for the Canadian Journal of Family Law, as well as of The Family Law Journal.
Many of our member lawyers have also been published in all of these prestigious journals.
Anthony Merchant combines this background with thousands of hours of practical case experience, as do all of our lawyers. In addition, most of our divorce lawyers have also worked in our real estate and business law divisions.
Most of our lawyers have 20 to 30 years of experience. And we work as a team, which means even our youngest family lawyers will have access to a wealth of experience and understanding that you’d be hard pressed to find at any other law firm. We bring the full wealth of that experience to bear while serving you, ensuring that you are able to get outstanding legal support throughout your entire lifespan. Family law can be difficult to deal with, but we can give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing someone is looking out for your best interests at all times.
Call (604) 394-2777 to schedule your case review and to get paired with your own dedicated family law lawyer.