Resolve your Family & Immigration Law Matters with Honest and Professional Legal Advice
Frequently Asked Questions
Once you have read over the FAQ, then book a consultation with Matthew to learn more and get legal advice specific to your case. It is important to get legal advice and best to retain a lawyer because each case is different and the law is constantly changing.
how much does it cost for an initial consultation?
An initial consultation with Matthew averages around $150 plus tax, but it can be significantly less or more. Matthew will confirm the hourly rate that he is charging at the beginning of the initial consultation. If you wish to cancel an initial consultation because of concerns related to cost, then you can cancel the initial consultation without any penalty and for no cost. If you cancel the initial consultation at any time prior to its completion, then Matthew will not provide you with any legal advice or information. Matthew does not offer free consultations.
DOES IT COST ANYTHING TO CANCEL AN APPOINTMENT?
If you provide at least 24 hours notice of cancellation, then there will be no charge. Cancellation within less than 24 hours may be subject to a $100 plus taxes cancellation fee. Failure to provide any notice of cancellation will be subject to a $200 plus taxes no notice cancellation fee.
how long does it take to get a divorce?
In most cases, it will take at least one (1) year and sometimes two (2) or more years from the date of separation, but the process may take as little as three (3) months. The length of time that it takes to obtain a divorce order depends on the complexity of your case and on the actions of the other involved parties like your spouse, their family, and their lawyer. Please notify Matthew in writing by email if it is important for you to obtain a divorce within a certain time period and explain why. Due to the way that the legal process works, it is not possible to guarantee a divorce within a certain time period. It may not be in your or your children's best interests to obtain a divorce order until all other family issues are resolved. You will be able to obtain a divorce more quickly if you provide full documentary disclosure in a timely manner and follow legal advice without delay. If a divorce is sought by consent and all other outstanding legal issues have been resolved, then you may be able to obtain a divorce order without a court hearing or trial which is often quicker and less costly. Matthew will do his best to help you resolve your family issues, including obtaining a divorce, in a cost effective and timely manner.
Do I have to be SEPARATED for a certain amount of time before i can apply for a divorce?
In most cases, you can apply for a divorce immediately after you separate if you have lived in BC for at least one year. You can find more questions and answers related to divorce here: What do I need to know about getting a divorce? - Province of British Columbia (gov.bc.ca); and, here: Fact Sheet - Divorce (justice.gc.ca). Unless exceptional circumstances apply, you will need to wait until you and your spouse have remained separate and apart for at least one (1) year. If exceptional circumstances apply, then there is a possibility that you may be able to obtain a divorce order in less than one (1) year. In practice, a divorce order is rarely made before the parties have remained separate and apart for at least one (1) year. The Supreme Court of British Columbia can use section 8(2)(b)(i) or (ii) of the Canadian Divorce Act to make a divorce order because one spouse has committed adultery or treated the other spouse with physical or mental cruelty of such a kind as to render intolerable the continued cohabitation of the spouses, but in practice the Court does so in very few cases. Often it is not in the best interests of the children or the spouse to make a divorce order in less than a year because many family issues will usually take at least one (1) year to fully resolve even when parties both agree to a divorce. If a divorce order is made too quickly, then it is more likely that it will be unfair to one party and that the parties will need to return to Court at a later date. Matthew will help you seek a divorce order, but Matthew will usually recommend that any time specifically pursuing a divorce order wait until all other issues are fully and finally resolved.
I want to move with my children, what do i need to do?
Matthew is happy to help you seek a relocation order. If you are reading this because you are planning to relocate, then you probably will need to at least apply to Court for a relocation order. Often it is possible to enter into a consent order permitting relocation after providing notice to affected parties and filing an application in Court. It is often relatively easy to obtain an order for relocation if your intended relocation is within the same school catchment area. Normally, the further away the location is that you wish to relocate to, then the more difficult any intended relocation will become. When it is not possible to reach a consent order permitting the desired relocation, then it may be possible to get the Court to make an order permitting the desired relocation provided that the desired relocation is in your children's best interests. If you fail to seek or obtain a relocation order but decide to relocate anyways, then the Court may make an order forcing you to return even if you relocate to another province or country. An order forcing you to return may involve significant legal and relocation costs which legal advice or representation may have allowed you to avoid. Matthew will help you avoid unnecessary expenses and other problems by providing legally required notice of your intended relocation to any person(s) that should be provided with notice and ensure that this evidence is filed with the Court.
how does a court decide issues related to a child?
The Court will determine guardianship, parenting time, and parental responsibilities which includes decision-making authority for a child based on legal consideration of the child's best interests. A child's best interests is determined by the Court using a seemingly simple, but yet complex, analysis which may involve many factors and careful consideration of the issues, the rules, the facts, expert reports, case law, legislation, rules, and a little common sense. Matthew is happy to help you in Court.
will I have to attend court?
Matthew encourages his clients to attend Court with him when they can, but often it is not required or necessary. Generally, a party should and may be required to attend Court in person for alternative dispute resolution processes. You will have to attend Court in person if you need to provide oral evidence to the Court, but the Court may permit your in-person attendance remotely using Microsoft Teams which permits the Court to see you and hear your evidence without your physical presence in a Court room. Your in-person attendance will almost certainly be required if you have children and/or you dispute the other parties position on issues that are important to you. Your in-person attendance will be required if you are the best and/or only person that can provide evidence that would contradict the other party's evidence or support your legal position. If you really do not want to spend time in Court for some reason, then it may be possible to mediate, negotiate, or argue your case in front of a judge by way of written sworn statements or affidavit evidence only. This usually requires that both parties agree to resolve the issues either by way of mediation, negotiation, and/or affidavit evidence only. Matthew will let you know when, where, and how you will need to attend Court, if at all.
HOW MUCH WILL it COST?
Matthew has some clients that have resolved all of their family issues for a few hundred dollars. You are probably aware of, have read of, or heard of someone that spent a small fortune on family litigation. Some of these stories are true, and others are what might be referred to as a "fish tale". It is often impossible to determine exactly how much an individual family case will cost to resolve. I always try to help my clients resolve their legal matters in the most cost effective and efficient way possible. If a client has a contract referred to me by legal aid, then it may not cost them very little financially. If a client is paying as a private client, then costs can be minimized by being reasonable, following legal advice, and proactively providing financial and other family related documentation to me. In many cases, the largest waste of time and money occurs around obtaining and providing financially related documentary disclosure. This waste can be drastically reduced when parties freely and generously share financial related information between each other. Sometimes it is not practical or possible to share financial information freely between parties due to real or perceived trust issues. If this is the case, then you should be prepared to spend significantly more money than the average person on the family litigation process. Generally, if you are disputing significant issues, then it will take a significant amount of money and a significant amount of your time to resolve the issues. If you represent yourself, it will take more of your time and less of your money at least initially. Often self represented litigants save in at the start on legal fees, but pay in the end because they financially, and often emotionally, end up with less than they would have had they acted on legal advice or had a lawyer to represent them. If you are represented by Matthew, then it will take less of your time and more of your money at the start, but your mental and physical health will likely be better than they would have otherwise been and you will probably end up with you either receiving or saving more money in the end. In my experience, you should be prepared to spend up to 10% of your family net worth to resolve family related legal disputes, but it may cost only 1% or less to actually resolve all of your family issues. The cost heavily depends on how reasonable parties act before, during, and after separation, but unfortunately far too many family disputes involve a huge amount of emotion and hurt feelings. A reasonable resolution takes at least two parties and sometimes one party, even despite their best efforts, just simply cannot be reasonable and they perceive a legal dispute and taking up your time, lawyers' time, and a Court's time to be, misguidedly, in their best interests. Matthew is happy to help you in a cost effective, efficient, and timely manner. Matthew will do his best to work within any reasonable budget.
how much child and/or spousal support will i receive AND/OR pay?
In Matthew's experience, most parties pay more than they want to and receive less than they think they deserve, but the end result is usually fair and reasonable even if the amounts paid or received did not start out that way. The amount of child support paid and received is usually based on the paying parties' income, their province of residence, and the number of children they are paying for and is calculated using the Federal Child Support Guidelines. The basic amount is usually quickly and easily calculated by the Child Support Table Look-Up tool published by the Government of Canada. Additionally, parties will often share special or extraordinary child related expenses proportionately to their incomes. The amount of spousal support that you will receive and/or pay will depend on many factors including, but not limited to, the parties' current and future expected incomes, how much each of the parties need, property and debt that each of the parties' have, how much any children need because child support takes precedence over spousal support, how long the relationship was, the economic advantages and disadvantages to the parties' during the relationship, and consideration of undue financial hardship. For spousal support, the Courts apply the facts to the case law and use the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines and DivorceMate Software calculations to determine a fair and reasonable amount and duration of spousal support. Matthew is happy to help you apply to receive, increase, decrease, or cancel child and/or spousal support and to represent you provided that Matthew believes that it is reasonable considering the facts and the law.
I can't afford to pay for a lawyer, how can i get help?
If you cannot afford to pay for lawyer, then Matthew encourages you to apply for legal aid. You can do this online, over the phone, and in person with assistance from Legal Aid BC. For more information about legal aid click here: Legal Aid.
I don't live close to your office, how am i able to get advice and and review the application with you?
If you are unable to meet with Matthew in person or prefer to meet remotely, then Matthew is happy to help you remotely by telephone, Teams, or Zoom.
what is a parent or grandparent super visa, and how does it differ from a regular visitor visa?
Matthew is happy to help you apply for a Super Visa or a regular visitor visa. A Super Visa should be applied for when you wish to have a parent or grandparent visit with you and your family who is not a current resident of Canada. A Super Visa, as the name implies, is better than a regular visitor visa and permits a maximum visit of up to two (2) years by a parent or grandparent. This allows a parent or grandparent to reside in Canada for up to two (2) years upon entry whereas a regular visitor visa permits a maximum visit in Canada of up to six (6) months upon entry. Generally, the Super Visa puts more strict requirements on the Canadian child or grandchild while the regular visitor visa puts more strict requirements on the non-Canadian applicant without current legal residence status.
can I sponsor my spouse and dependent children to come live in canada with me?
The answer to whether you can sponsor your spouse and dependent child(ren) depends on your status and other factors in Canada, but most people will eventually qualify to sponsor their spouse and their dependent child(ren). Matthew is happy to help you determine who you can sponsor, when you can sponsor, and how you should sponsor your spouse and their dependent child(ren). If there is someone else other than your spouse and dependent child(ren) that you would like to sponsor to come and live in Canada, then Matthew is happy to try and help you with this as well.
what is the provincial nominee program?
The BC Provincial Nominee Program ("PNP") is a provincially managed immigration program. Currently, there are three pathways: skills immigration, express entry, and entrepreneur immigration. Matthew is happy to help you explore one or more of these pathways and help you and your family seek permanent resident status on Vancouver Island.
What kind of financial disclosure do i need to provide?
Matthew requires that all of his family clients provide him with online access to their CRA My Account within fifteen (15) days of signing Matthew's representation agreement. It is important to note that most cases will require considerably more financial disclosure than this. This is just the start. You must ensure that your taxes are up to date and that you are ready to provide your financial information before you meet with Matthew. You must complete a financial statement within twenty (20) days of signing Matthew's representation agreement. Matthew is happy to assist clients with the completion of their financial statement, but clients must complete a draft financial statement to the best of their ability on their own or with the assistance of their accountant or the person who manages their financial information first. In rare circumstances, Matthew will provide assistance to a client who wants help completing the initial draft financial statement when this assistance is requested in writing by email. Matthew will always review and amend a financial statement with his clients to ensure that the financial statement is accurate and complete. Matthew will provide reasonable extensions when requested in writing by email and a reasonable explanation is provided outlining why an extension is required. This policy will be strictly enforced as financial disclosure is usually required to proceed in Court. When it is not required, it allows Matthew to advocate for his client's best interests and determine when and how undue or financial hardship applies. Matthew will make exceptions to this policy only in very limited circumstances involving urgency and protection concerns. If you are a potential client that does not have their taxes up to date, then Matthew encourages you to complete your taxes prior to meeting with him or to seek legal assistance elsewhere. Matthew is happy to provide potential clients with a referral to a local professional accountant.
Will you take a legal position about an issue because I want you to?
No. I have a duty to my clients, but also to the Court and even to opposing counsel. I will only take a position that I believe is fair and reasonable, no amount of money or trying to convince me to do otherwise will change that.