Dunphy Best Blocksom
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Dunphy Best Blocksom
Dunphy Best Blocksom
Mon - Fri: 8 am - 4:30 pm MDT
Call us: 403.265.7777

Top 10 Myths (ok, 17) In Family Law

November 18, 2019 by DBB Law in Family Law, News

By: Wendy Best


After practicing family law for almost 40 years, it is clear that there are many “myths” or misunderstandings that people have about various family law issues. I attempted to identify the 10 most common issues, but ultimately could only reduce them to 17, as briefly outlined below.


Myth #1: Fault determines rights or entitlement. If you separate because your spouse cheated on you, you don’t have to pay them support or divide your assets.

A: Wrong. Except in extremely rare exceptions, bad conduct has no effect on a person’s entitlement to support or property.

Myth #2: You need an “official” document in order for you to be “legally separated”.

A: No. As soon as one partner has decided that the relationship is over and advises the other partner or both partners have decided to separate and there is no reasonable prospect of resumption of cohabitation, you are “legally separated” (even if you later engage in occasional consensual sexual contact).

Myth #3: You need to file for a divorce before your spouse does.

A: No. Who files first is essentially irrelevant.

Myth #4: If you vacate your home after you separate, you have no rights to it.

A: Mostly wrong. Leaving your home does not disentitle you to a claim to the equity of the home or to force its sale. It might become more difficult to try and return to the home and live there.

Myth #5: I am entitled to one-half of my spouse’s assets after we split.

A: Not necessarily. Assets that were owned prior to the marriage (and still exist at the separation) and inheritances or gifts from third parties are exempt/protected assets. Also, increases in the value of these protected assets are not necessarily divided equally.

Myth #6: You only have a legal obligation to support your natural children, not your spouse’s children from a previous relationship.

A: Sorry. If your stepchildren resided with you for a period of time (not necessarily fulltime) and you treated them like they were your children (e.g. you included them on your health insurance or named them in your will), you could have an obligation to pay child support for them after a separation, even if the other biological parent is also paying child support.

Myth #7: If we’re not living together, we aren’t “common law”.

A: Nope. Firstly, Alberta family law doesn’t recognize “common law” partners. Instead, Alberta has Adult Interdependent Partners (“AIPS”) and living together is not a requirement to be an AIP.

Myth #8: You don’t need to provide financial disclosure to sign a separation agreement with your spouse/partner, you just need to agree on the terms.

A: So wrong. You will have an agreement, however if it’s later challenged it is highly unlikely the agreement will be upheld.

Myth #9: If I save money or win a lotto after I’ve separated (but before I’ve finalized any “deal”), I don’t have to share that money with my former spouse/partner.

A: Mostly wrong. Assets/debts or their values are not “frozen” at the time of separation. New assets acquired post-separation are presumed to be shared equally. However, it is potentially possible to overcome the presumption.

Myth #10: If I quit my job, I don’t have to pay support.

A: Don’t bother. The court has the power to impute an income to an under or unemployed spouse/partner, and can order you to pay support based on that imputed income.

Myth #11: If you don’t have any parenting/access time with your children, you don’t have to pay child support for them.

A: No. A parent has an absolute obligation to pay support in accordance with the Child Support Guidelines, irrespective of their relationship or parenting time.

Myth #12: I have equal parenting time. I don’t have to pay child support for them.

A: Likely wrong. Shared parenting child support obligations are complex. Often, but not always, the support is determined pursuant to the “set-off” method. If your income is lower, you will pay, but also receive, support.

Myth #13: Once your children are over the age of 18, you don’t have to pay child support.

A: Mostly wrong. Children are entitled to be supported after the age of majority if they are going to school (sometimes including graduate or second university degrees) or are physically or mentally disabled and unable to support themselves.

Myth #14: If my ex remarries or lives “common law” with a third party, I won’t have to continue to pay my ex any spousal support.

A: Mostly wrong. Remarriage or living together does not eliminate an existing support obligation. At best, it might reduce the amount of the payment.

Myth #15: You can refuse to allow a divorce to be granted.

A: No. You can potentially delay a divorce, but not prevent it. Once a judge is satisfied that proper arrangements have been made for the support of any children and the grounds for a divorce are met (generally a 1 year separation), a person is entitled to proceed to apply for a divorce, whether or not the other spouse agrees.

Myth #16: Family law rules are essentially the same in every province.

A: Definitely not. There are many differences between provinces, primarily in respect of property and spousal/partner support.

Myth #17: Family law is easy. Your friends or family that have already gone through their own separation or divorce can help you with yours.

A: Family law is not straightforward. Your friends/family can most certainly provide you with emotional support. We don’t recommend that you rely on their legal advice.



Should you wish to receive advice in respect of any of these issues, please contact our office in order to make an appointment with Wendy or one of our family law lawyers.

6 Dunphy Best Blocksom LLP Lawyers Named to 2020 Best Lawyers list

September 12, 2019 by DBB Law in News

Calgary, August 30, 2019 — Dunphy Best Blocksom LLP is pleased to announce that 6 lawyers have been included in the 2020 Edition of The Best Lawyers in Canada. Since it was first published in 1983, Best Lawyers has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence.
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Suitcase? Check. Passport? Check. Travel Consent Letter?

January 14, 2019 by DBB Law in Family Law, News

By: Sarah Nasser
Travel is a fun and exciting time for children. It exposes them to new environments, new people and different cultures. But before you pack their bags and take them to the airport, you might need to take care of a little extra paperwork.
Travel consent letters are generally prepared for a parent who intends to travel internationally with their child(ren) absent the other parent. While not a legal requirement when travelling, a travel consent letter is highly recommended by the Government of Canada and family lawyers alike, especially on international trips where it may be requested by immigration authorities and/or Canadian officials. Failure to produce a letter upon request may result in delays and/or refusal to enter or exit a country.
It is not just separated and/or divorced spouses that may need a travel consent letter. If a minor child is travelling without their custodial guardians, whether that is their grandparents or their basketball coach across the Canadian border, it will also be necessary to obtain and carry a travel consent letter.
What if you have sole custody of your child(ren)? Despite having sole or final decision making rights for your child(ren), it is strongly recommended that the travel consent letter is signed both by parents with custodial rights and by parents with access rights to the child(ren).
Do I have to sign a travel consent letter? Generally most parties get travel consent orders signed by the other party without issue, however, if the other parent does not consent to the travel letter, a court application will be necessary to ensure you are able to travel.  Best practice is to ask for consent early to ensure there is time to bring an application if required.
Please note that we always suggest getting the travel consent letter notarized by a Notary Public to ensure that you will be able to travel. If you need a Notary Public please contact our office.


January 3, 2019 by DBB Law in News

By: Sarah Nasser

Currently there is no legislation in Alberta that indicates how to divide property when an unmarried couple breaks up. This is soon set to change.  In slightly more than a year, Alberta will join British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan in providing people in Adult Interdependent Partnerships (“AIP”) with property rights equivalent to those enjoyed by married spouses.

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5 Dunphy Best Blocksom LLP lawyers named to 2019 Best Lawyers list

August 22, 2018 by DBB Law in News

Calgary, August 21, 2018 — Dunphy Best Blocksom LLP is pleased to announce that 5 lawyers have been included in the 2019 Edition of The Best Lawyers in Canada. Since it was first published in 1983, Best Lawyers has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence.
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The Double-Edged Sword that is Social Media

June 28, 2018 by DBB Law in Family Law, News

By Sarah Nasser
For better or for worse, social media is here to stay. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Skype, and Snap Chat – the platforms are endless. In the family law context social media has undoubtedly been a useful tool for separated families, when used responsibly. These platforms have allowed parents and children to remain connected and share moments in real time. In fact, this type of communication is now frequently included in Parenting Orders to ensure that children have regular communication with both of their parents when they are not physically with them.
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“Sexting” and the Law

March 1, 2018 by DBB Law in News

New research from the University of Calgary reveals that sexting is on the rise amongst teenagers aged 12 – 17 years old.

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Formal Complaints submitted to Calgary Police Service

March 6, 2017 by DBB Law in Employment Law, News

Bullying and harassment complaints delivered to Chief of Police

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Media coverage: Jen Magnus and other employees of Calgary Police Service file formal complaints

February 27, 2017 by DBB Law in Employment Law, News

Media coverage synopsis: see DBB blog post for press release (February 21,2017).

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February 21, 2017 by DBB Law in Employment Law, News

(Calgary, AB, February 21, 2017)— Thirteen formal complaints are in the process of being directly submitted to the Chief of Police. The employees allege that the Calgary Police Service (CPS) has failed to provide a safe environment for certain employees, which has resulted in years of workplace bullying and harassment.

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