Jackie

Jackie graduated in 2010 with a Legal Assistant diploma.  Family law is a perfect fit due to her natural affinity for helping people, particularly those who are going through difficult life events.  She is happy to be raising her family in the warm, close knit community of Cochrane.

Courtney

Courtney settled in Cochrane in 2016, right after getting married.  She acquired her Legal Assistant diploma in 2019 because a career in the legal field is something she has always been passionate about. She fell in love with family law during her practicum and feels blessed to start her career in such a warm and family-oriented community.

Kendra

Kendra has been a resident of Cochrane since 2001.  After attending local schools and growing alongside the town, it was an easy decision to lay her own roots and raise her family here.

In 2015 she attained her Legal Assistant diploma and immediately started a career in family law.  She has a natural affinity for helping others and, as such, finds an immense amount of satisfaction in the work she does.

Amanda Tuff-Overes

Amanda joins us as a Student-at-Law after completing her Juris Doctor at the University of Alberta in the spring of 2021. An active advocate for access to justice throughout her studies, Amanda acted as the Coordinator for the University of Alberta chapter of Pro Bono Students Canada, volunteered with the Queen’s Bench Amicus project and Student Legal Services Family project, and sat as Co-Chair of the Mental Health and Wellness Committee for the Faculty of Law.

With a background in business, life coaching, emergency medicine, and early childhood education, Amanda brings a down-to-earth, experience-based approach to helping individuals navigate the complexities of human interactions and relationships during periods of transition. She strives to find creative, forward-facing solutions that work for her clients no matter what the circumstances.

Trauma-informed, LGBTQ2IA+ and lifestyle friendly, Amanda has a particular passion for helping polyamorous and non-traditional families navigate the unique challenges these relationships face within the Canadian family law system.

Marisa Hammer

Marisa was called to the Bar in 2019, after having obtained her law degree at the University of Sussex in the UK. Marisa articled at a boutique regulatory law firm in Calgary where she obtained experience in environmental, energy, and administrative matters. Marisa decided she wanted to make a difference in people’s everyday lives and found the practice of family law achieves that.

Marisa strives to find a balanced outcome specific to each circumstance and meet the needs of the client. She is committed to resolving issues in a supportive and cost-effective manner.

Erin Barvir

Erin was called to the Bar in 2007, having obtained her Bachelor of Arts Degree and her Law Degree close to home, at the University of Calgary.

A highly experienced lawyer, Erin is able to adapt to the individual needs of each and every client, whether you need a strong litigator or a reasoned and rational voice out of court.

Erin also has a passion for mediation and arbitration and has completed extensive training in both.  She is able to be the neutral, 3rd party to assist opposing parties in reaching an amicable resolution, with or without lawyer assistance.

Candace Wray

Candace achieved her Juris Doctor at the University of Saskatchewan, having completed her last semester abroad at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, William S. Richardson School of Law.  She was called to both the Saskatchewan and Alberta bar in 2014 and has already gained significant experience both in and out of the courtroom.

A confident and accomplished litigator when required, Candace believes that the future of family law is in negotiated settlements where possible, thus saving the expense and delay of a full court process.

Candace is an active volunteer in Cochrane and enjoys spending free time helping to enrich the local community.

Guardianship of Children of Unmarried Parents

The answer to the question “who is a guardian of a child?” can be an easy one. If you are the birth mother or biological father of a child, and currently married to or in a relationship with the other parent of the child, then you are a guardian. If there is a Court Order that says you are a parent (in cases of surrogacy or adoption) or guardian, then you are a guardian. Likewise, if there is a Court Order that says you are not a parent or guardian, then you are not a guardian.

If you gave birth to the child, and there is no Court Order saying you are not the child’s parent, then you are also their guardian.

What about when you didn’t give birth to the child and there is no Court Order in place? Well, then you have to look a little deeper to discover your status.

When you are not married to or in a relationship with the other parent, you didn’t give birth to the child, and there is no Court Order with respect to guardianship, there are a number of factors that should be considered. They are:

  1. Were you married to the other parent when the child was born, even if you are not married to them now?
  2. Were you in an Adult Interdependent Relationship (“AIR”) with the other parent when the child was born (more on that below)?
  3. Did you marry or have an Adult Interdependent Relationship with the other parent within one year after the child was born?
  4. Were you married to the other parent before the child was born, but divorced less than 300 days before the child was born?
  5. Did you live with the other parent for at least 12 consecutive months during the period the child was born?
  6. Have you made any voluntary payments of support for the child, within one year of finding out the child was born?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above, then you are likely a guardian of the child.

There are a few other categories where you may be a guardian as well. They are:

  1. Is there any written agreement where you agreed to be the guardian of the child?
  2. Did you voluntarily give or offer any financial support to the birth mother, either during or after the pregnancy?
  3. Did you voluntary give or offer any financial or non-financial support for the child, within one year after finding out about the birth of the child?
  4. Have you in any other way demonstrated an intention to assume the responsibilities of a guardian within a year of finding out about the birth of the child?

If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, it might be worth consulting a lawyer to discuss the specifics of your situation and to get some advice on your possible guardianship responsibilities.

Turning back to the AIR status from above, you will be classed as being in an AIR when:

  • You are living with someone, sharing in one another’s life, functioning as an economic and domestic unit and emotionally committed to one another, and either:
    • You are related by blood, both at least 18 years old, and have signed an Adult Interdependent Agreement; or
    • You are not related by blood but:
      • have lived together and have a child together;
      • have lived together continuously for 3 years but have no child together; or
      • have signed an Adult Independent Agreement.

If you need any advice on your possible status as a guardian, assistance navigating the checklist of guardianship factors above, or information on your rights and responsibilities once it is established that you are a guardian, we would be happy to help. Call us on (403) 981-0700 to set up an appointment with one of our lawyers and to discuss your specific situation.

Disclaimer:

Although we are a law firm, this blog post does not constitute legal advice. It is for informational or entertainment purposes only and shouldn’t be seen as financial or legal advice of any kind. You should consult with a lawyer before relying on any of the information contained in this blog post. We can be contacted at (403) 981 0700 to set up a consultation with one of our lawyers who can review the specific circumstances of your matter and provide you with personalized legal advice.

Why get a Will?

Do you have a Will?  Is it something you have thought of doing?  There are many statistics floating around out there, and they all show a surprising number of people who do not have Wills, or if they do, they acknowledge that they are out of date. 

We can’t tell you how many people come into our offices who have been putting off getting their Wills drafted for years, if not decades.  You may be asking yourself if you really do need a Will, or if it is important given your current circumstances.  “Need” may be a strong word, as it is not a legal requirement to have a Will, but yes, you should have one, and yes, you should ensure that it stays current and reflects your personal circumstances.  Any person, regardless of the size of their estate, and whether or not they have a partner or children would benefit from having a Will.

So why should you have a Will?  There are many reasons to have a Will, and we will focus on a few of the most common ones.

  • Clarity

You get to choose how your estate will be divided (though there is a legal requirement to ensure your dependents are taken care of).  You don’t have to wonder what will happen to your loved ones in the event of your death as you have specifically written out your instructions.   You are the person who is best equipped to make the decisions regarding your estate.

If you die without a Will, your assets will be distributed in accordance with the Wills and Succession Act, and neither you nor your loved ones will have control over what happens.

  • Ensuring loved ones are taken care of

If you die without a Will and have minor children, who will take care of them? Especially if you are a single parent or if you and your partner die in a joint accident.  Family members would have to step in to determine who should become guardian of those children, and people may not agree on who is the best choice.  A Will puts that choice in your control and you can make certain you choose the people who share your values, will provide a safe an loving home, and are willing to take on that responsibility.

  • Saving money

A Will can help to ensure that you use tax rollovers to named beneficiaries to the best advantage possible.  This could save your estate a significant sum in taxes, ensuring that your beneficiaries reap those benefits.

Another reason that having a Will could save you money is that you may be able to avoid the requirement of getting a Grant of Administration.  In certain circumstances, in order to deal with the assets (or debts) of a loved one, you are required either to have a Will or a Grant of Administration, which is a lengthy and sometimes costly process through the courts.  Something as simple as getting rid of a vehicle in the name of a decease may not be possible for months without a Will.

If you currently have a Will, please ensure you review it every couple of years and after any significant event in your life (marriage, births, separation, death in the family) to ensure it still reflects your wishes. 

While Wills are the most well-known estate planning documents, and deal with your matter in the event of your death, we would also encourage you to consider other estate planning documents, designed to protect yourself and your assets in case of incapacity.  These are Personal Directives and Enduring Powers of Attorney.  We will cover those more in depth in a future blog post, so stayed tuned!

Disclaimer :

Although we are a law firm, this blog post does not constitute legal advice. It is for informational or entertainment purposes only and shouldn’t be seen as financial or legal advice of any kind. You should consult with a lawyer before relying on any of the information contained in this blog post. We can be contacted at (403) 981 0700 to set up a consultation with one of our lawyers who can review the specific circumstances of your matter and provide you with personalized legal advice.

Getting Judgy

It’s easy to criticise the judiciary when a result doesn’t go your way in Court, but being a Judge may be a little harder than it first appears.

It’s necessary to weigh, often numerous, competing positions before coming to a reasoned decision. So this month we thought we’d try something a little different and put you in the hot seat as the Judge.

Have a read through the facts below. If you can believe it, this is actually based on a true case from Newfoundland. It’s been turned into a work of fiction, and all names have been changed of course, but the basic story is still there.

Comment below with how you’d handle this situation if you were the Judge and we’ll let you know the actual verdict in 48 hours time.

Disclaimer :

Although we are a law firm, this blog post does not constitute legal advice. It is for informational or entertainment purposes only and shouldn’t be seen as financial or legal advice of any kind. You should consult with a lawyer before relying on any of the information contained in this blog post. We can be contacted at (403) 981 0700 to set up a consultation with one of our lawyers who can review the specific circumstances of your matter and provide you with personalised legal advice.

The Verdict:

“It’s valid” the Judge said. “Milos’ intent was to support the larger cause of his Greek Orthodox religion, not to punish Athena. If the condition had been that Athena not marry at all, that would have been unlawful. But reasonable restrictions on marriage are valid.

What do you think about that verdict? Adding conditions to an inheritance can bring with it some challenges. If you have something similar in mind, we’d be happy to discuss the merits with you at a will intake appointment.