Family Law Act
The Family Law Act, SBC 2011, c 25 is a law created by the government of British Columbia that you can find, along with other provincial laws, at the website of the Queen's Printer or on CanLII, a free website that lets you search Canadian laws and court decisions. A handy, downloadable PDF of the law is also available online through a service called Quickscribe. Both married and unmarried couples may apply for orders under this act, as well as other people who might have an interest in a child, such as a family member of the child.
Section 1 of the Family Law Act defines a child as someone who is under 19 years of age. Section 146 gives a bigger definition for child support, and defines child as including:
a person who is 19 years of age or older and unable, because of illness, disability or another reason, to obtain the necessaries of life or withdraw from the charge of his or her parents or guardians
Under Part 3 of the act, a parent is presumed to be the biological father and the birth mother of a child. However, if assisted reproduction is used, parent can include:
- up to two people who intend to have the child,
- a donor of sperm and a donor of an egg, and
- a surrogate mother.
When child support is an issue, parent can include a stepparent. Section 146 defines a stepparent as:
a person who is a spouse of the child's parent and lived with the child's parent and the child during the child's life
Under s. 3, spouse includes:
- someone who is married to someone else,
- someone who has lived with someone else in a marriage-like relationship for at least two years,
- except for the parts of the act about dividing property and debt, someone who has lived with someone else in a marriage-like relationship for less than two years if they have had a child together, and
- former spouses.
Under s. 39(1) of the act, a child's guardians are usually the child's parents, as long as they have lived together during the child's life. Under s. 39(3), guardians include:
- people who are parents because of an assisted reproduction agreement, and
- parents who never lived with child and other parent, as long as the parent "regularly cares" for the child.
Under the act, someone who is a parent or guardian can be required to pay child support. Someone who is a guardian has “parental responsibilities” for the child and has “parenting time” with the child. Someone who is not a guardian, has “contact” with the child.
A spouse can be entitled to get spousal support from another spouse. Only spouses who are married or who have lived in a marriage-like relationship for at least two years are entitled to share family property and are responsible for family debt.
The Family Law Act covers these subjects:
- parentage of children and assisted reproduction,
- guardianship of children,
- parental responsibilities and parenting time,
- contact with a child,
- child support and spousal support,
- dividing property and debt,
- orders to protect people, and
- orders to protect property.