A fresh perspective on divorce, spousal support, child support, parenting after separation and everything family law

Divorce: in the news and just for fun!

Here are my picks for top five family law stories of the past week:

  1. The Supreme Court of Canada made a decision in the “Eric and Lola” case – ruling by a slim majority that specific provisions of the Civil Code of Quebec do not infringe the equality provisions set out in Section 15(1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  See Georgialee Lang‘s blog “Supreme Court Says “No” to Common Law Spouses in Quebec” for a summary;
  2. As reported in the Vancouver Sun, a prominent Vancouver couple are going to court over what to do with a $615,000.00 wine collection;
  3. John Cleese is getting a divorce and funding the settlement by selling of moving props from Monty Python according to the Daily Mail.  (NOTE – if you have debts arising from your divorce and have extra stuff (like a car you never use or expensive furniture that does not fit in your new house) why not sell it to improve the financial situation?  Makes sense to me…);
  4. Liberty Ross is divorcing Rupert Sanders (it is reported that he cheated on her in the summer of 2012 with Kristin Stewart).  According to Perez Hilton, Ross is being represented by Laura Wasser (divorce lawyer to the stars); and
  5. In China a dialogue is opening about the lack of a law to provide for women to divorce homosexual spouses.  “In a report released last week, the First Intermediate People’s Court of Beijing called for a legislation to allow those who discover their spouses are homosexual to file for an annulment as an alternative to divorce.” (quote from Zeenews.com). This reminds me of the recent internet video sensation: Gay Men Will Marry Your Girlfriends.

Provincial Court of British Columbia: jurisdiction over a pet dog

A recent Provincial Court of British Columbia decision made a ruling about a pet dog.

While courts have been reluctant to make custody or access orders in regard to family pets, in the decision of Custodio v. Pucci, the Honourable Judge J. Challenger found that the court had jurisdiction to make an order in regard to family pets (if they are treated as property):

The court has jurisdiction under s. 3(1)(b) of the Act to order the return of a dog as a dog is considered a piece of property.  In Watson v. Hayward, a decision of my sister Judge Dhillon, rendered July 2, 2002 reported at 2002 BCPC 259 (CanLII), 2002 BCPC 259, she canvassed the legal principles applicable in such a matter.

On such an application the court must consider whether there is an issue to be tried, and I am satisfied on Ms. Custodio’s evidence that there is an issue to be tried, whether she has demonstrated a strong prima facie case and based on the documents and her evidence, if that was accepted by the court, indeed she has a strong prima facie case and likely a strong case at trial.  The third issue is whether irreparable harm will result not compensable by damages at common law if the interim order is not granted and, finally, where the balance of convenience lies.

Judge Dhillon distinguished cases involving pets from cases involving inanimate pieces of property.  That case involved a breeder who had reclaimed a dog as a result of what was alleged to be neglect of the dog by the person who had purchased it from the breeder which distinguishes the case on its facts.

The “Act” that is being referred to above is the Small Claims Act.  Section 3(1)(b) of that Act gives the Provincial Court of British Columbia:

3  (1) The Provincial Court has jurisdiction in a claim for

(a) debt or damages,

(b) recovery of personal property,

(c) specific performance of an agreement relating to personal property or services, or

(d) relief from opposing claims to personal property

if the amount claimed or the value of the personal property or services is equal to or less than an amount that is prescribed by regulation, excluding interest and costs.

(2) The Provincial Court does not have jurisdiction in a claim for libel, slander or malicious prosecution.

So, if your family pet is worth $25,000.00 or less, you can bring a claim in the Provincial Court of British Columbia (see Small Claims BC as a starting point).  If your pet is worth more than $25,000.00 the Supreme Court of British Columbia would be the court to hear your case (unless you decide to abandon the portion of your claim over $25,000.00, in which case you could still proceed in the Provincial Court of British Columbia).

“If you are keeping a white lion cub (apparently $138,000.00) as a pet in British Columbia you are going to have some other legal issues arise …”

Clawbies: 2012 Finalist!

Family Law Refocused was a finalist for the 2012 Canadian Law Blog Awards!

From the Clawbie website:

Non-Legal Audience Blog

As we noted above, most blogs are written for a non-lawyer audience — that is to say, for clients (and increasingly, for professionals who work with lawyers). But this category is meant to honour blogs that specifically target a readership with very little knowledge of the law but a strong need for access to and information about legal issues. This year’s award goes to SOQUIJ | Le Blogue, the official blog of Quebec’s Société québécoise d’information juridique, which provides understandable and accessible legal knowledge to everyday Quebecers (and to many of their avocat(e)s and notaires as well).

Runners-up: These blogs are singled out for their special focus on facilitating legal information to people without legal backgrounds and training.

Family Law Refocused, by the law firm of Cassels Murray in Victoria

Offside: A Sports Law Blog, by Ottawa lawyer (and radio host) Eric Macramalla

Pokerati, by Stuart Hoegner of Toronto and Las Vegas’s Gaming Counsel

Congrats to all of the winners and other finalists – there are some amazing Canadian Law Blogs!  Check them out at www.lawblogs.ca.

Facebook: Is posting photographs of your children on Facebook a parenting concern?

I was reading through recent British Columbia Supreme Court  judgments and I came across the case of Bain v. Bain.

In this decision, the Honorable Mr. Justice Crawford addressed a mother’s concern about her former husband posting pictures of their daughters on Facebook.  Mr. Justice Crawford stated at paragraph 16:

 As well, there have been concerns about Mr. Bain’s parenting.

He has made available on the internet by way of Facebook, pictures of the children in their very early years. There is a danger of publishing such pictures in this day and age, which should be apparent to any parent, let alone the father of two small daughters. Therefore, there shall be this order:

Mr. Bain shall forthwith remove from Facebook, and any other public medium, any and all pictures and references, comments or written words regarding the children.

When I was reading this decision I noted that:

  • We do not have an idea or description of the nature of the pictures posted on Facebook;
  • Mr. Bain did not attend the hearing; and
  • Justice Crawford did indicate some problems with Ms. Bain’s affidavit evidence.

I mention the above points because they indicate that there might have been another side to the story (no one was there to advocate on behalf of Mr. Bain or put his point of view forward).

It is also interesting that the reasons for judgment set out a series of incidents indicating poor judgment on the part of Mr. Bain (not just the Facebook pictures) – can the [lack of] judgment used in posting the  of the Facebook pictures be inferred from the rest of the  communication/conduct on the part of Mr. Bain that is described?

So – is posting pictures of children on Facebook a parenting concern?

In some circumstances I think it is appropriate to post family pictures on Facebook.

I have posted pictures of other people`s kids in my Facebook albums (for example at my wedding) – should I take these down?

Many of my  friends and relatives have children – they are wonderful parents and frequent Facebook “kid-pic” posters.  Posting pictures on Facebook seems to be commonly used instead of mailing out school pictures or family portraits – how else would we get to see our nieces and nephews across the country celebrate their Birthday (maybe the event could be broadcast to the extended family over Skype…?).

Obviously the decisions to post pictures of children on Facebook/the internet are an individual decision for parents.  For example, one of my good friends who had a baby over the Christmas break e-mailed out a newborn picture to our group of friends and said “Dad says only clothed pics of Baby on the net”.

My general thought on this is as follows:

  • Adjust your privacy settings to make sure that only people who are close friends/family can see pictures of your kids;
  • If you are not able to adjust your privacy settings – remove the photographs of your kids from Facebook (do you really want random strangers seeing your photos?);
  • Avoid posting pictures that will cause the children personal humiliation to them later in life (when the are a teenager) and remember:
George Takei

“This picture was copied from the Facebook page of someone I don`t know, George Takei, without his permission or knowledge“

Do you think it is appropriate to post pictures of children on Facebook…?  If so, what are the restrictions and limitations you use when deciding what to post?

Family Law: in the news

Two news stories caught my attention this morning:

 Thomas Beatie (the man who gave birth to three children) is having difficulty getting a divorce in Arizona.  As reported by CBS:

An Arizona man who garnered national media attention for giving birth to three children after having a sex-change operation has hit a snag in his divorce proceedings that could prevent him from having his marriage legally dissolved.

A judge is questioning whether the state’s same-sex marriage ban bars him from ending Thomas and Nancy Beatie’s union — or even recognizing its validity. Thomas Beatie was born a woman and underwent a sex change but retained female reproductive organs and gave birth to three children.

Thomas and Nancy Beatie are eager to end their nine-year marriage, but their divorce plans stalled when Maricopa County Family Court Judge Douglas Gerlach said in late June that he was unable to find any legal authority defining a man as someone who can give birth.

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has come to a divorce agreement.  As reported by the BBC:

Italy’s former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has agreed to pay 36m euros (£30m) a year to his ex-wife Veronica Lario, reports say.

Berlusconi will keep the £60m villa where the couple lived with their three children, as part of a divorce deal reportedly filed on Christmas Day.

Question: How do you file divorce papers no Christmas Day?  Court registrys in British Columbia are closed for the holiday…