Efficient.  Effective.  Tailored to your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Disclaimer:  The following FAQs are for General Information Only 

What is general information?

General information is law, regulations, policy, statistics, studies, estimates, etc., often available free of charge from government and professional sources.

What is legal advice?

Legal advice is the professional recommendation a lawyer provides to his or her client after applying the relevant general information to the client's specific set of facts.

Looking for guidance specific to your situation?

Contact Us
About business and employment
Should we incorporate?

When you're making more money than you spend and find yourself landing in a higher income tax bracket, consider incorporating.

If your business qualifies for the small business deduction, available to Canadian-controlled private corporations, excess revenue up to $500,000 belonging to the corporation may be subject to federal income tax of only 2% (for BC small businesses) . Compare this tax rate to your individual federal income tax bracket.

Looking for a deeper dive into possible benefits for your particular situation?  Contact us for legal advice.

Do we need a partnership agreement?

If you are asking this question, you're either already in a partnership, with or without a written agreement, or you're about to jump into one.

What does a good written agreement mean to you? Less stress, faster crisis response, and increased chances of success.

Discussing and signing a written partnership agreement early on is one component of a good business strategy. It allows you and your business partner(s) the opportunity to contemplate how you will resolve difficult scenarios before a crisis hits. This minimizes the potential for ruinous litigation while one or more of the parties struggle to keep the business afloat amidst conflict.

Is there a good way to let an employee go?

Yes. Be a good communicator.

This means, when you notice it may be time to cut back, make a plan. Legal advice may be helpful in this regard. Having a clear plan helps direct management's actions, which helps the company be a good communicator with it's employees. The principle applies equally to massive scalebacks as it does to letting one employee go.

Should we have a written employment contract?

It's important to clearly define the terms of an agreement. Written terms set expectations.

An employment is an agreement between two parties, with give and take on both sides. This type of agreement is a contract. Whether or not the terms of the contract are in writing, both parties are relying on each other to do certain things.

Clear expectations are key to a successful relationship.

So, yes, negotiating and signing a written employment contract is a great way to clearly define roles and expectations.

About growing your family
How long does it take to adopt?

Generally speaking, the process may take two years or more from the date you begin in earnest. The timeline of adding a child to the family is unpredictable, as every situation is unique.

Where do I go to start the adoption process?
  • Adopt BC Kids is a provincial program that streamlines the process of adopting a child from foster care through the Ministry of Children and Family Development
  • if looking to adopt an infant, register with an adoption agency either within Canada or abroad
  • if you are involved in a direct adoption with the birth parents, a law office can help

There are many ways to adopt!

What is assisted reproductive technology (ART)?
  • surrogacy
  • donor insemination
  • in vitro fertilization (IVF) and
  • inter uterine insemination (IUI)

Each of these are applications of assisted reproductive technology.

Who uses ART?

ART helps when a person or a couple want a biological child, but experience infertility.

Many people may  find themselves in this situation, including:

  • opposite-sex couples who need help conceiving and carrying a child
  • same-sex couples who need help conceiving and carrying a child
  • single people who need help conceiving and carrying a child
About mediation
Is mediation like therapy?

Mediation is future-focused while therapy is often reflective. They are different methods geared at achieving different types of goals.

In mediation, the goal is to canvas the diverse needs and interests of the parties in order to develop solutions that meet all of the needs.  
How long does it take to get results?

The mediation process usually consists of a series of sessions, each lasting about three hours. In the example of a family law mediation without lawyers, the process would typically require an intake interview for each participant, plus three to five mediation sessions.

One reason for multiple sessions is to allow time for the parties to obtain any missing information and documentation. Breaking the mediation into sessions also helps to maintain productivity and avoid negotiation fatigue.

What type of training should a mediator have?

A variety of training organizations in Canada and the United States offer mediation courses. In BC, the CLEBC and JIBC offer general mediation training as well as specialized family law mediation training, including training on how to properly screen clients for indicators of family violence.

The Law Society of BC manages accreditation of lawyers who act as family law mediators.

Send us your question from the Contact Us page.
About separation and divorce
Can I afford it?

Family restructuring is like buying a new or used car. It's an investment in your quality of life.

During and throughout a family restructuring process, it's crucial that you have, not only good advice, but the right kind of advice at the right time. If that sounds expensive, think again. The most expensive (and emotionally draining) part of family restructuring is the money and time spent fighting each other.

We encourage and guide clients to assemble a team of advisors to minimize the costs of separation and maximize the return on your investment.

Let us show you how you can afford a better quality of life by spending your money on the help you need, rather than on fighting.

Read more about Collaborative Family Practice
What is "independent legal advice"?

Abbreviated as ILA, independent legal advice, is advice you get from a lawyer who has no conflicting loyalties.

ILA is important for separation agreements because of the close relationship between ex-spouses. If one or both parties sign a separation agreement without the benefit of ILA, the agreement may be changed, later, by a court.

Courts and judges hearing family law applications will take seriously an applicant's complaint about "undue influence" in signing. To avoid this situation, be sure that you and your spouse both receive  independent legal advice prior to signing a separation agreement.

If I wrote my own separation agreement, do I need a lawyer to witness it?

Short answer: No.

What is a witness?

If you are signing a separation agreement, it's a good idea to have a witness. A witness can be any competent adult. The person just needs to be able to identify you (either because they know you or because you show them your ID). The witness identifies you, confirms with you that you signed the document, then the witness signs the document to show that they acknowledge your signature on the document. That's it.

When should I use a lawyer?

Use a lawyer for independent legal advice (ILA) on the separation agreement. What is the agreement binding you to do (or not do)? Are your legal rights being protected? When you get ILA, the lawyer will affix a Certificate of Independent Legal Advice to the back of the separation agreement. A separation agreement with a Certificate of ILA will often stand-up better when challenged in court or arbitration.

Why does a Certificate of ILA matter?

When spouses or common law partners split-up, there is typically stress and insecurity associated with the process. Being in this fragile state, it is common that a person might agree to something that is not fair in the eyes of the law. This is called "undue influence". If a separation agreement is signed, but later one party doesn't like it anymore, s/he might bring a court application claiming s/he suffered from undue influence when signing it. In this case, a judge might say the agreement is unenforceable, even though both parties signed it (with or without witnesses). However, when a separation agreement has a Certificate of ILA for each spouse or partner, it's harder for someone to come back later and say s/he was overwhelmed by stress or undue influence.

Formal requirements of separation agreements - Clicklaw BC
Can we save money by using one lawyer to guide us through our separation?

Lawyers have a duty of loyalty to clients. In a situation where one lawyer represents two clients who develop conflicting interests, the lawyer can no longer represent either client.

However, a lawyer trained as a family law mediator may serve as a mediator to help couples navigate the separation process. In her capacity as mediator, the lawyer would be able to offer general legal information, but would not provide legal advice.

Read more about mediation