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 people 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 of "child" when making decisions about child support. That section 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,
- a surrogate mother, and
- a spouse of 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
- people who used to be 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 the child and the 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.
Someone who is 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,
- children's property,
- orders to protect people, and
- orders to protect property.
Intentionally doing a thing; a law passed by a government, also called "legislation" or a "statute." See "regulations."
A person who is younger than the legal age of majority, 19 in British Columbia. See "age of majority."
Money paid by one parent or guardian to another parent or guardian as a contribution toward the cost of a child's living and other expenses.
In law, a legal incapacity to do certain things, like enter into a contract or start a court proceeding. Legal disabilities include insanity and being under the age of majority. See "age of majority."
In family law, the natural or adoptive father or mother of a child; may also include stepparents, depending on the circumstances and the applicable legislation; may include the donors of eggs or sperm and surrogate mothers, depending on the circumstances and the terms of any assisted reproduction agreement. See "adoptive parent," "natural parent," and "stepparent."
A person who gives something as a gift or as a bequest, freely and without expectation of payment in return.
Under the Divorce Act, either of two people who are married to one another, whether of the same or opposite genders. Under the Family Law Act, married spouses, unmarried parties who have lived together in a marriage-like relationship for at least two years, and, for all purposes of the act other than the division of property or debt, unmarried parties who have lived together for less than two years but have had a child together. See "marriage" and "marriage-like relationship."
The spouse of a person who has children from a previous relationship. A stepparent may qualify as a "parent" for the purposes of issues relating to child support and the care and control of a child under both the Divorce Act and the Family Law Act. See "parent" and "spouse."
In family law, the quality of an unmarried couple's relationship that demonstrates their commitment to each other, their perception of themselves as a couple, and their willingness to sacrifice individual advantages for the advantage of themselves as a couple; a legal requirement for a couple to be considered spouses without marrying. See "cohabitation," "marriage," and "spouse."
Something which can be owned. See "chattels" and "real property."
A sum of money or an obligation owed by one person to another. A "debtor" is a person responsible for paying a debt; a "creditor" is the person to whom the debt is owed.
A term under the Family Law Act which describes the various rights, duties, and responsibilities exercised by guardians in the care, upbringing, and management of the children in their care, including determining the child's education, diet, religious instruction or lack thereof, medical care, linguistic and cultural instruction, and so forth. See "guardian."
A term under the Family Law Act which describes the time a guardian has with a child and during which is responsible for the day to day care of the child. See "guardian."
A person charged with the legal care of someone under a legal disability. A term under the Family Law Act referring to a person, including a parent, who is responsible for the care and upbringing of a child through the exercise of parental responsibilities. See "disability," "parental responsibilities," and "parenting time."
A term under the Family Law Act that describes the visitation rights of a person, who is not a guardian, with a child. Contact may be provided by court order or by the agreement among the child's guardians who have parental responsibility for determining contact. See "guardian" and "parental responsibilities."
Money paid by one spouse to another spouse either as a contribution toward the spouse's living expenses or to compensate the spouse for the economic consequences of decisions made by the spouses during their relationship.
A term under the Family Law Act referring to property acquired by either or both spouses during their relationship, as well as after separation if bought with family property. Both spouses are presumed to be equally entitled to share in family property. See "excluded property."
A term under the Family Law Act referring to debt owed by either or both spouses that accumulated during the spouses' relationship, as well as after separation if used to maintain family property. Both spouses are presumed to be equally liable for family debt.