Changes in Family Law on the Horizon

By Valerie L. Brown of Brown Law Professional Corporation

court gavelIn the latest “Access to Justice” initiative, the federal government introduced Bill C-78 with the goal of promoting faster, more cost-effective and lasting solutions to family law disputes, meaning less burden on courts and better outcomes for families.

Perhaps of greatest interest to married partners are the proposed changes to the Divorce Act, including:

The Language of Custody and Access

The changes would replace the often highly contested and emotionally charges words of “custody” and “access” with:

  • “parenting order”,
  • “decision-making responsibility”,
  • “parenting time”; and
  • “contact orders” in the case of non-parents.

Expanding the Definition of “Best Interests”

While the Provincial Legislation already includes a non-exhaustive list of considerations in determining parenting issues, the proposed changes to the Divorce Act will catch-up with its own list of criteria to help courts determine the “best interests of the child”.  Within this list is a new emphasis on the effects of domestic violence.

Diversion of Matters to Out of Court Resolution

The proposes changes to the Divorce Act require those providing legal services to make parties aware of alternatives to Court and to use other family dispute resolution processes, to the extent it is appropriate to do so.

While not defining what those alternatives are, they would reasonably be expected to include:

  • Mediation,
  • Arbitration,
  • Legal Aid Settlement Conferences, and
  • Parenting Coordinators

Mobility Cases

The proposed legislation includes clear guidance on what to expect when a parent wants to move a child’s residence.  This framework includes:

  • 60 days written notice of any intention to relocate;
  • 30 days from the date of notice to object to a proposed move;
  • legal burden on the parent wishing to move, where the parents have roughly equal parenting time;
  • legal burden on the parent opposing the move, where the moving parent has primary care of the child(ren)

You can view the proposed legislation here:  Bill C-78

For more information on how these changes may affect you, please contact us for a half price consultation.





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