Family Law, Matrimonial and Divorce
Sinclair Cragg Lawyers practices all areas of family law in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, including the following:
- Pre-Nuptial Agreements/Marriage Contracts/Cohabitation Agreements - A marriage agreement can be made either before or during a marriage. If it is made prior to the marriage it is termed a pre-nuptial
agreement or "pre-nup". In addition, prospective spouses can enter into a
"cohabitation agreement" if living together without an immediate intention
Whether we are speaking of cohabitation agreements, pre-nuptial
agreements or marriage contracts, these types of agreements may be
entered into by persons who are married, intend to marry or are simply
cohabitating. The parties may agree on their respective rights and
obligations during marriage, cohabitation or on separation, including:
- Ownership in or division of property;
- Support obligations;
- The right to direct the education and moral training of their
children, but not the right to custody of or access to their
- Any other matter in the settlement of their affairs.
- Separation Agreements - It is always better if the two of you can agree
on how to settle the issues between you. Court proceedings can be very
expensive and take a long time. Signing a separation agreement is a very
important step. Your decisions now can affect you and your children for
the rest of your lives. A separation agreement is a contract that you must
The law leaves the decision about having a separation agreement to you.
You may have a hard time proving that you and your spouse had promised to settle things a certain way if you do not have a written, signed
and witnessed separation agreement. This could be a problem if your
spouse stops respecting your informal agreement.
- Child Protection Proceedings - Sinclair Cragg Lawyers has experience in dealing with Child Welfare matters under the Alberta
Child Youth and Family Enhancement Act (CYFEA) including:
- Child Welfare Supervision Orders;
- Temporary or Permanent Guardianship Orders;
- Family Kinship placement and adoption proceedings.
If you need assistance or have inquiries regarding Child Welfare issues please contact Brad
Sinclair for assistance.
- Divorce - The Divorce Petition requires a lot of information. You can help
your lawyer and save time if you already have that available. See the
Divorce Petition Check List for the information you should start gathering.
You will need to file a certified copy of your marriage certificate and, if one
of you has already been divorced, a certified copy of the Divorce
- Custody - To begin with, both parents have custody of the children. This
is not an issue until one of the parents, or some other person, wants to
remove custody from the other parent or from both of the parents. Until the
court makes an order or the parents enter into an agreement, both parents
have the same "rights" to custody of their children and neither has more
"rights" than the other.
The over-riding principle which applies to custody orders is "the best
Interests of the child". The courts will be concerned with what is best for
the child and not what is best, or most convenient, for the parent. As well,
legislation provides that the past conduct of the person requesting custody
is not of any consideration or significance unless it is relevant to the ability
of that person to act as a parent for the child in the current circumstances.
- Access - Child Access, or Visitation Rights, is when a child who lives with
one parent goes to visit the other parent for a few hours, a weekend, or for
longer, such as during a winter or summer vacation. Just because a
parent only sees the child for access visits does not necessarily mean that
they do not have custody rights. However, if a parent does not have
custody of their child, they may still have access visits with the child, so as
to continue to have a good relationship with the child.
- Child Support - Under the Divorce Act either a spouse or former spouse
may be ordered to pay child support to the parent who has the custody or
day to day care and control of the child. There doesn't have to be any
actual order for custody or joint custody, for the court to order that one of
the parties child support.
- Spousal Support - What does the legislation say about spousal support?
The Divorce Act deals with spousal support in section 15 which states
that: "In making an order under this section, the court shall take into
consideration the condition, means, needs and other circumstances of
each spouse and of any child of the marriage for whom support is sought.
- the length of time the spouses cohabited;
- the functions performed by the spouse during cohabitation; and
- any order, agreement or arrangement relating to support of the spouse
Section 15 (6) of the Divorce Act clearly states that:
"the court shall not take into consideration any misconduct of a spouse in
relation to the marriage" when considering whether or not to order
- Division of Property - Property rights when a marriage breaks down are
governed by Part I and Part II of the Family Law Act (FLA). Part II deals
specifically with the division of the value of the matrimonial home, while
Part I deals with all other matrimonial property. It should be noted that only
couples who have entered into a legal marriage may make use of these
provisions of the law.
- Guardianship applications - We can assist you with either determining
whether or not you would qualify as a guardian or making a court
application for guardianship of a child or children.
Other Family Law Areas include:
- Exclusive Possession of the Matrimonial home
- Exclusive Possession of the Contents of the Matrimonial home
- Sale of Family property
- Division of Property for Unmarried Couples
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