As a Divorce Lawyer in Calgary, Darren practices exclusively in the area of Divorce and Family Law, and is able to help clients to successfully navigate their way through issues such as divorce, separation, custody and access, guardianship and parenting, child support, spousal support and division of property.
Darren was born and raised on the Isle of Wight, a small island off the south coast of England. Darren commenced his law degree in the fall of 1997, studying part time in the evenings whilst working in a law office full time during the day. At the same time he sat the Institute of Legal Executives (ILEX) exams. Legal Executives are qualified lawyers in England. The ILEX exams are usually taken over a 4 year period, but Darren completed them within an 18 month period. Darren became a Fellow of the Institute of Legal Executives in 2001.
Darren completed his law degree in 2000 finishing second in his class. He then took his Post Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice and was admitted as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales in 2004.
Darren worked for several law firms in England, including Eversheds which was then the fourth largest law firm in the world.
In England, Darren’s practice was purely litigation, acting on behalf of both Plaintiffs and Defendants. He gained considerable experience in insurance cases, representing clients in the County Court, High Court and Court of Appeal.
Darren’s career before becoming a lawyer was a colourful one. He first qualified as a carpenter, finishing top of his class each year at the Isle of Wight College of Arts and Technology. He received two industry awards: one for “Top Carpenter”; the other for “Top Apprentice - All Trades”.
After completing his apprenticeship, and spending some time travelling in the U.S.A., Darren joined the British Prison Service in 1992 with the intention of becoming a specialist Physical Education Instructor, primarily to enable him to indulge his passion for martial arts.
Darren resigned his position as a Prison Officer to join the Intelligence Corps of the British Army in 1994. Darren was awarded “Best Recruit” and posted to serve with 22 Special Air Service. He saw service on covert operations in several theatres.
Darren, together with his wife and children arrived in Calgary in January of 2007. Darren was called to the Bar in Alberta in July of 2009.
Spousal support for married couples is governed by the provisions of the Divorce Act and the Family Law Act.
Unfortunately, spousal support is one of the most difficult areas of family law in which to be able to accurately advise clients. The law in this area is based largely on judicial discretion and is uncertain, confusing and controversial.
Any spousal support which is paid as a result of a Court Order or a written agreement is tax deductible for the payor and taxable income for the recipient.
Many factors will be taken into consideration by the Court to determine whether to make an Order for Spousal Support including:
a) Any economic advantages or disadvantages to the spouses arising from the marriage or its breakdown;
b) Any financial consequences arising from the care of any child of the marriage over and above any obligation for the support of any child of the marriage;
c) Any economic hardship of the spouses arising from the breakdown of the marriage; and
d) Promoting the economic self-sufficiency of each spouse within a reasonable period of time.
It is also possible for non-married couples and adult interdependent partners to apply for spousal/partner support under the Family Law Act. The relevant factors used by the Court when making such an Order are similar, but not identical, to those used under the Divorce Act.
It is possible for one of a married couple to file for Divorce in Alberta if one spouse is able to fulfill the following criteria:
1) They have been ordinarily resident in Alberta for a least one year immediately prior to filing for Divorce.
2) They are able to meet the ground for divorce, being marriage breakdown, which may be established by any one of the following:
ii) Mental cruelty;
iii) Physical cruelty; or
iv) One year`s separation.
In the Divorce Action the Plaintiff or the Defendant make seek an Order dealing with all or some of the following:
a) Custody of/access to the children;
b) Child support; and
c) Spousal support.
In addition, it is possible to also seek an Order for the Division of Matrimonial Property.
The parties will not be divorced until a Divorce Judgment has been granted by a Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench. If there are children of the marriage, the Divorce Act states that the Divorce Judgment cannot be granted until the Court is satisfied that appropriate arrangements have been made for the payment of child support.
In the vast majority of cases, calculating the child support that parents must pay is a relatively straightforward process.
The Federal Child Support Guidelines (“Guidelines”) were intended to provide average justice on the issue of determining the appropriate level of child support.
There is an expectation that the non-custodial parent will contribute to the support of the children in accordance with his or her income, usually, without reference to the custodial parent’s income.
Application of the Guidelines is mandatory in all applications for child support under the Divorce Act and the Family Law Act.
Calculation of child support under the Guidelines is a 3 stage process:
a) Determine the basic amount of child support using the tables;
b) Determine what additional expenses need to be considered; and
c) Determine if there is a claim for undue hardship.
The above process is required to be amending slightly if, for example, the parents each spend in excess of 40% of the time caring for the children, if the children of the marriage do not all live with the same parent, if the children are over the age of 18, or where the payor earns in excess of $150,000.
FREESTON LAW OFFICE
Suite 2100, 144 - 4th Avenue S.W.
Calgary, Alberta T2P 3N4
Our office is situated on the 21st floor in the west tower of the Ampersand Building, three blocks north of the 1st Street S.W. LRT station.
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