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Calgary Family Law Blog

Grandparents with child custody on the rise according to census

Extended families have always been an important part of a child's life, but this may be true now more than ever. While conversations about child custody often centre on a mother and father's rights to children, grandparents are increasingly becoming primary caregivers for the next generation of kids in their families. The trend can be seen in communities across Alberta and the rest of Canada.

The 2016 census revealed the increase in grandparents raising children. Currently, 0.6 percent of all Canadian children, 32,505 in total, are living in households where they are being raised by grandparents. This number was significantly less in 2011 at 30,005.

New statistics show diverse families and family law needs

Statistics can reveal many things about a country and the people who live there. Statistics Canada has released new data about the makeup of families in Alberta and the rest of Canada. The findings show that households are becoming more diverse and that many kinds of family situations exist in the country. It is important to understand these trends in order to maintain a family law system which serves everyone.

The aging population has contributed to many of the trends seen in recent statistics. The percentage of Canadians living is higher than it has ever been in the country. In fact, people living alone is currently the most common type of household. Just over 28 percent of all households are single-person dwellings, up from 25.7 percent in 2001. In Alberta, one in four adults lives alone.

How divorce may affect retirement plans

The breakdown of a marriage is often an incredibly disruptive event in a person's life. Decades of financial planning can be put in jeopardy with a divorce, and things like retirement or investments may need to be re-evaluated. This can be challenging for individuals who have been counting on a certain future. Those individuals facing these issues in Alberta may need to reconsider their plans and financial setup when filing for divorce.

Divorce rates for people over 50 are on the rise, making retirement a major issue in many circumstances. Part of retirement planning is preparing for costs, many of which are lower when shared between two partners. Housing, medical insurance, transportation and long-term care are all costs that a newly single person will have to bear independently. While some people may be able to cut costs after their marriage ends, others may find their financial mindset needs to shift.

How to deal with feelings of unfairness in divorce

One of the most common issues people struggle with when a marriage ends is the feeling of unfairness. This is particularly the case if one spouse moves on faster than the other, or one spouse feels that his or her life has been unfairly altered financially or emotionally. Feelings of injustice can be a large obstacle to moving on after a divorce for many people across Alberta.

However justified these feelings may be, managing and handling them is key to moving forward after a marriage ends. Divorce counsellors advise that once the papers are signed, "letting go" of the notion of fairness will help those crushed by feelings of injustice to heal. There is an exercise that can help with this.

Major stresses like divorce can age your brain by 4 years

Divorce is considered among the most stressful things a person can go through. Stress researchers have noted that divorce, along with other difficult life events, can have ongoing affects on a person's mental health. While divorce is often a necessary step for Alberta couples, many individuals are susceptible to negative side effects from the stresses brought about by divorce. Recent studies have shown that major stressful life events can age the human brain by four years.

One study looked at a cross section of Caucasian, African American and Hispanic individuals. The participants recorded information about stressful life experiences, including divorce, then completed cognitive testing. The testing measured problem-solving and memory.

Coping strategies for children with parents undergoing divorce

Ending a marriage poses challenges to every member of the family, not just the couple breaking up. For children across Alberta and the rest of the country, coping with the divorce of parents can be overwhelming and emotional. Here are a few things children can do to take care of themselves during this major life change.

Children whose parents are divorcing may find it helpful to engage a confidant to work through their feelings. A therapist or friend may be able to help sort out fears and needs. Children should tell their parents what they need to better adjust to the divorce but remember to keep these conversations constructive. Taking sides or becoming one parent's protector can lead to even more family tension.

How to prioritize investments in post-divorce finances

Financial issues are almost always part of any conversation surrounding divorce. People often find themselves burdened with more bills and less available income following the end of a marriage. While this is manageable for some high-income homeowners, most people in Alberta have mortgages, retirement savings, business investments, and other debt to consider. Following divorce, a reassessment of financial priorities may be a good idea for those whose cash flow and expenses have changed.

Child care costs can amplify these issues. With the rising cost of child care, a Canadian man with a modest annual income of $51,500 who pays $650 per month for child care would have very little left for savings or unexpected expenses after paying for necessities. This tight budget, combined with outstanding debt, can make a divorced individual question the practicality of home ownership or career changes.

High conflict divorce may not be avoidable

It is probably no surprise to Alberta residents that divorce is among the most stressful events a person can endure. Even if the split is amicable and one's spouse is a reasonable person, the tension of breaking up and starting over can be overwhelming. To divorce on positive terms, through mediation or collaborative law, often allows a couple to recover more quickly and move forward with their new lives. However, psychologists say this may not be possible if one is married to a person with a high-conflict personality.

One mark of a high-conflict personality is deceitfulness. Someone who tells lies about his or her spouse or twists the facts may do so in an aggressive or even abusive way. Such a spouse may also spread those lies to friends and family members to paint him or herself as a victim while making the other spouse seem like a bully. Psychologists consider these behaviors narcissistic, especially when combined with alienating behavior or a refusal to see anyone else's point of view. This is why mediation may be impossible in those circumstances.

Alberta family law does not provide automatic grandparents rights

Are you a grandparent who is denied the privilege of having a relationship with your grandchildren? Sadly, many grandparents in Alberta face this situation. Your son or daughter may be divorced, with limited custody, and the other parent may prevent you from having contact with your grandchildren. More tragic and extreme cases sometimes involve alcohol or drug abuse and dependency, neglect, domestic violence or criminality -- in which case child protection authorities may be involved, and you might be able to seek guardianship in a family law court.

In Alberta, grandparents do not have automatic rights to see or have any contact with their grandchildren. Without the consent of the parent who has custody, the sole solution may be to petition the court to allow contact. Authorities will look at different facts while they consider granting you the right to build or continue a relationship with your grandchild.

New study suggests a bad divorce can cause poor health in kids

Most parents will do just about anything within their power to protect their children. Even if the marriage to the other parent ends, the resolve to protect the kids remains. The phrase, "in the best interests of the child" comes up repeatedly during a divorce in Alberta. While much of the focus is on the mental and emotional welfare of the kids, a new study indicates that a child's physical health may also be at risk in ways few would ever imagine.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University conducted an unusual experiment involving 201 healthy adults. The subjects agreed to living in quarantine for five days as the researchers exposed them to a common cold virus. After exposure, they observed the effects of the virus on the subjects.