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Teenage love leads to an unwise marriage.

Dear Tuma:

A couple of weeks ago, our chief was sick and asked me to attend a meeting as his proxy. I went and after the meeting the secretary came up and gave me a cheque. I asked what the money was for and she told me that it was an honorarium. I'm not sure what to do with the cheque. Should I keep it? Should I give it to the band? Tell me what to do.

Holy Honorarium

Dear Holy:

An honorarium is a payment that is made to an individual for attending a meeting of a board, committee or organization. It is usually used to cover the individual's costs associated with attending the meeting, such as mileage, hotel, meals, incidentals, etc. It can also be used to cover other costs such as lost income from losing a day's pay to attend a particular meeting.

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Many meetings of boards, organizations, etc. will give a base honorarium with mileage without requiring any supporting documentation or receipts. Just the fact that you are at the meeting will suffice.

If you are a salaried employee of the band with no travel budget and the band deducts you for a day's pay for attending the meeting, then by all means keep the honorarium. It is intended to cover your costs. Do not feel guilty about accepting it.

On the other hand, if the band provides travel for you and does not deduct or make you use your vacation or sick days to attend the meeting, then you need to give the honorarium to the band.

Dear Tuma:

I got married at a young age and quickly had a baby. My husband and I were really too young and didn't know what we had gotten ourselves into. Shortly after the baby was born, he told me that he wanted go back to his home reserve in British Columbia. I told him I would not go and he left. Other than the occasional phone call on my daughter's birthday and on holidays, I don't' hear from him and have done well without him. Now, after seven years, I've found a new man. One that is good, working and treats my daughter and me well. I want to marry him. What do I have to do in order to get a divorce? I do not want child support. I just want to forget that I was married.

Blushing Bride (Again)

Dear Blushing Bride:

When I was a teenager (not that long ago), all my friends were running around getting married and having kids.

For some, it did not work out and for others it did.

First things first, you need to decide if you need a lawyer. If you think that your divorce will be simple, then you may not need a lawyer. I can tell you from experience, however, divorce can become complicated very quickly. Be prepared. I suggest hire a lawyer. If you cannot afford one, you should contact legal aid to see if you qualify. You should also contact the Indigenous Bar Association to see if any of their members will be willing to do a Pro Bono file. You may not believe this, but lawyers do take on files for little or no money.

If you really think that your file will be simple, that there will be no contest of assets, no contest of custody or no arguing over who will pay child support or the amount, then you can fill out and file the forms yourself. Your local courthouse can supply you with the necessary forms and help you file them. You will then need to serve a copy of the court papers to your husband. You will also be given a court date where you should be prepared to tell the judge why you should be granted a divorce.

In Canada there is only one ground for divorce and that is that there is a breakdown of the marriage. This breakdown can be proven in three ways: the husband and wife has lived apart for at least one year; one of the parties has committed adultery; or that one of the spouses has treated the other with physical or mental cruelty. In your case, all you have to do is to prove that your husband and you have been living separate and apart for one year and the divorce will be granted on this ground.

Now, you should be prepared to address the question of child custody and child support. You may think that your husband may not contest this, but you will be surprised at how many folks balk at paying child support. Remember child support is not your right, but the right of the child. You may say that you do not want child support, but the judge may not listen to you on this point and order child support anyway. This is where I see your case getting complicated and adversarial very quickly. This is why I, again, advise you to hire a lawyer.

Tuma

This column is not intended to provide legal advice, but rather highlight situations where you should consult with a lawyer. Questions can be sent to tumayoung@yahoo.ca
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Title Annotation:strictly speaking
Publication:Windspeaker
Date:Jan 1, 2006
Words:869
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