November 18, 2011: Changes in British Columbia Family Law Act
Canada: To better serve the interests of children, a new Family Law Act was introduced by British Columbia’s attorney general, replacing the 1978 Family Relations Act.
The primary goal of the proposed act is to ensure the safety and well-being of children during and after the process of separation or divorce, according to Shirley Bond.
She said the best interests of the child must be the only consideration. A discussion paper and draft legislation were issued in July 2010.
Remove the Term “Custody”
Toning down the language in the law by removing terms such as “custody” was among the suggested factors. Steering couples away from courts and towards mediation are some of the ways in reducing conflict, according to the bill.
Curb Family Violence
If passed, the proposed new law will also curb family violence by replacing restraining orders issued by civil court with protection orders issued by criminal court.
Extend Property Rights to Common-Law Couples
Extending property rights to common-law couples is another reform proposed for the Family Law Act, rights which presently do not formally exist in B.C. With the exception of inherited assets and those acquired before the relationship began, there will be a 50/50 split of the couple’s assets, if the bill passes.
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