Governing Legislation and Resources for Family Law (3:II)

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This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by the Law Students' Legal Advice Program on September 29, 2020.

A. Resources in Print[edit]

  1. Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia, Family Law Sourcebook for British Columbia (Vancouver: Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia, 2019).
    • This loose-leaf sourcebook contains a thorough overview of all aspects of family law, with cites to the relevant authorities for each statement of law.
  2. Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia, Annotated Family Practice 2019 - 2020 [regular updates]. (Vancouver: Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia, 2008).
    • This is an essential resource for many family law lawyers, and is updated each year.
  3. Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia, British Columbia Family Practice Manual, 5th ed. [regular updates] (Vancouver: Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia, 2011).
    • Loose-leaf manual providing a solid how-to approach to common family law problems and processes.
  4. Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia, Desk Order Divorce—An Annotated Guide (Vancouver: Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia, 2013).
    • Annotated guide to divorce, with regular updates.
  5. John D. Gardner and A.K. Korde, British Columbia Family Law: Annotated Legislation (Markham: Lexis Nexis Butterworths, 1984-2008).
    • This loose leaf guide contains annotated legislation and judicial consideration of statutes pertaining to family law. Remember, it will only contain amendments up to the date of publication.
  6. The Honourable Madam Justice Carol Huddart and Trudi L Brown, QC, British Columbia Family Law Practice, 2015 Edition + E-Book (Markham: Lexis Nexis Butterworths, 1984-2008).
    • This loose leaf guide contains annotated legislation and judicial consideration of statutes pertaining to family law. Remember, it will only contain amendments up to the date of publication.

Library References:

  1. Mary Jane Mossman, Families and the Law in Canada: Cases and Commentary (Toronto: Emond Montgomery Publications, 2004).
    • A good casebook, which provides an overview of new family law issues in Canada.
  2. Julien D. Payne, Payne on Divorce (Scarborough: Carswell, 1996).
    • A very good Canadian text on family law.

B. Resources on the Internet[edit]

1. Ministry of Justice – Family Law Legislation[edit]

Government website for the Family Law Act

Resources that are particularly relevant include:

  • Table of Concordance – allows for quick cross-referencing from the FRA sections to the FLA sections.
  • Family Law Act Explained – an excellent primer on the major changes behind the FLA, breaking down the purpose of each new section individually.
  • Questions and Answers – perhaps the best and most concise introduction to the changes that can be found on this website.

2. BC Supreme Court Services[edit]


  • This service provides information to help users prepare the procedural aspects of a family or civil case. There is an office at 290 – 800 Hornby Street in Vancouver, but it does not handle phone, e-mail, or written inquiries. The staff cannot provide substantive advice on legal issues.

3. J.P. Boyd’s BC Family Law Web Resource[edit]


  • This is an excellent site for those unfamiliar with family law rights and procedures, written in plain English. It is a good place to begin for those who have not had the benefit of a family law course.
  • The Family Law Resource is one of the leading resources in BC, particularly for the Family Law Act.
  • There is a link to forms for both matters in the Provincial Court and Supreme Court.

4. BC Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (FMEP)[edit]


  • Administered by the Ministry of Human Resources, this program helps families to enforce child support and spousal support orders from ex-partners. The program is administered through select BC Employment and Assistance centres.

5. Legal Aid BC Family Law in British Columbia[edit]


  • This site has general information on family law, including self-help materials, forms a client needs to file for an uncontested divorce, and step-by-step instructions for filling out the forms. It also houses web versions of Legal Services Society family law publications. Living Together, Living Apart: Common-Law Relationships, Marriage, Separation and Divorce is very useful. This publication is available in English, French, Simplified and Traditional Chinese, Punjabi, and Spanish.

6. British Columbia Vital Statistics Agency[edit]


  • The Vital Statistics Agency is a service provided by the provincial Ministry of Health Services. The web site includes information on birth and death registration and certificates. It also includes wills notice registration and searches, information on how to change your name, and information on marriage licences. Contact numbers are available for various services including adoption records information. Marriage certificates can also be ordered online.

7. Ministry of Attorney General[edit]


  • This site provides general information about a number of issues of interest to BC couples who have separated or who are about to separate. It may also be useful for guardians and other family members, such as grandparents, who may be involved in making important decisions about the family and its future.

8. Department of Justice Canada[edit]

About Spousal Support/Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines:

About Child Support/Federal Child Support Guidelines, P.C. 1997-469:

9. Support Calculator[edit]


  • People can use this website to calculate how much child support and spousal support they have to pay under the guidelines.

10. British Columbia Supreme Court[edit]


  • Procedural guidelines for divorce proceedings can be found on this website.

11. Divorce Registry of Canada[edit]


Telephone: (613) 957-4519

  • The registry is relevant as you need to fill in and print out a form and file it with the Court when you are seeking a divorce. This is required so that the Divorce Registry can confirm that you have not already been divorced.

12. MOSAIC[edit]


Telephone: (604) 254-0244

  • Deals with issues that affect immigrants and refugees while settling into Canadian society. They also offer translation services.

13. Interjurisdictional Support Orders[edit]

Web site:

  • Interjurisdictional Support Orders (ISOs) can be obtained from other Canadian provinces and territories and from reciprocating foreign countries by following the procedure set out in the Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act, SBC 2002, Chapter 29.

14. Children and Travel[edit]


15. Ministry of Justice Dispute Resolution Office[edit]


Phone (Lower Mainland): (604) 684-1300

Toll-Free (Rest of BC): 1-877-656-1300

  • Develops and implements dispute resolution services and justice transformation projects with administrative tribunals, courts, government ministries and agencies and external organizations.

16. Collaborative Divorce[edit]


Website: (Vancouver)

Website: (Lower Mainland)


  • These sites provide information about Collaborative Divorce, an option for parties wishing to resolve disputes respectfully and without going to Court. Parties work out a negotiated settlement with the help of collaboratively trained professionals including (as needed) lawyers, divorce coaches, child specialists and financial specialists.

17. Clicklaw[edit]


  • Described as a “portal-project”, Clicklaw is a website aimed at enhancing access to justice in British Columbia by helping users to sort through the myriad of legal information and assistance that is available and find the most appropriate resources for a given situation. *Visitors are directed to user-friendly resources designed for the public by contributor organizations (including the Community Legal Assistance Society and LSLAP).

18. The Law Society of British Columbia - Family Law Mediators[edit]


  • The Law Society offers accreditation for those who wish to become family law mediators. Those who become accredited are able to help people reach a consensual settlement regarding issues relating to their marriage, cohabitation, separation or divorce. The website provides a list of lawyers who have been accredited, and what area of BC they practice in.

19. BC Hear the Child Society[edit]


  • This society provides a provincial roster of qualified child interviewers who work in the legal and mental health fields.

C. Resources by Telephone[edit]

1. Family Justice Centres[edit]

Family Justice Centres assist families going through a separation with issues of child custody and access, and spousal support as well as child support issues. Family justice counsellors provide dispute resolution services, and make referrals to legal aid, other legal services, and community resources for families facing separation.

Location Telephone Fax
Vancouver – Commercial Drive (604) 660-6828 (604) 775-0679
Vancouver – Robson Square (604) 660-2084 (604) 660-4177
Victoria (250) 356-7012 (250) 356-6093
Nanaimo (250) 741-5447 n/a
Abbotsford (604) 851-7055 (604) 851-7056
Chilliwack (1-888) 288-8249 (604) 795-8258
Langley (604) 501-3100 (604) 532-3626
Surrey (604) 501-3100 (604) 501-3112
Maple Ridge (604) 927-2217 (604) 466-7343
Port Coquitlam (604) 927-2217 (604) 927-2220
New Westminster (604) 660-8636 (604) 660-2414
North Vancouver (604) 981-0084 (604) 981-0035
Richmond (604) 660-3511 (604) 660-3640

2. Provincial Court Vancouver Registry[edit]

Family Court Registry: (604) 660-8989

3. Provincial Court Vancouver Family Duty Counsel Service[edit]

Telephone: (604) 660-1508

  • Duty counsel is also available in other cities, contact Legal Services Society for a current list
  • Legal Services Society telephone: (604) 601-6000

4. Supreme Court Vancouver Registry[edit]

Administration: (604) 660-2847

Family Law Registry: (604) 660-2486

Courthouse Library: (604) 660-2841

Scheduling: (604) 660-2853

5. Supreme Court New Westminster Registry[edit]

Civil Registry: (604) 660-8522

Criminal Registry: (604) 660-8521

Divorce: (604) 775-0671

Courthouse Library: (604) 660-8577

Family Law Duty Counsel: (604) 775-0628

D. Relevant Legislation[edit]

1. Divorce Act, RSC 1985, c 3 [DA][edit]

This is the federal legislation that provides for both divorce law and the determination of corollary relief (support, custody, and access). Support orders under the Act have effect throughout Canada. All actions under the Divorce Act are generally heard in BC Supreme Court except those applications pursuant to Rule 18-3 of the Supreme Court Family Rules, which allows such actions to be heard in certain Provincial Courts. However, if the Attorney General has designated a Provincial Court registry as a Supreme Court Registry under s 4 of the Provincial Court Act, then that Provincial Court may decide interlocutory applications made under the Divorce Act.

Note: The DA does not provide for division of matrimonial assets. A person has to seek division of matrimonial assets under the Family Law Act [FLA].

Amendments to the DA will come into effect on March 1, 2021. These amendments include:

  • Increasing focus on the best interests of the child;
  • Bringing definitions into alignment with the Family Law Act and focusing them on the relationship with the child. For instance, the amendments remove terms such as custody/custody order and add new terms such as parenting time/parenting order;
  • New provisions defining family violence and compelling courts to consider family violence in divorce proceedings.

2. Child, Family and Community Service Act, RSBC 1996, c 46 [CFCSA][edit]

This Act provides for official apprehension of children (under 19 in BC) who are believed to be in need of protection or care. A hearing must be held before a judge within seven days. The hearing does not lead to any temporary or permanent custody orders, except by consent. Separate hearings are held for temporarily custodial orders and continuing custodial orders.

3. Family Maintenance Enforcement Act, RSBC 1996, c 127 [FMEA][edit]

The enforcement of child support and spousal support orders is administered by the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program pursuant to the FMEA.

4. Family Relations Act, RSBC 1996, c 128 [FRA][edit]

The FRA has been replaced by the FLA and is no longer in force except for actions that commenced before the FLA came into effect on March 18, 2013, and only in respect of property and pension division. If your case still involves the FRA, please view an older version of the LSLAP manual.

5. Family Law Act, SBC 2011, c 25 [FLA][edit]

The FLA came into force on March 18, 2013, and replaced the Family Relations Act. The FLA places the safety and best interests of the child first when families are going through separation and divorce. It also clarifies parental responsibilities and the division of assets if relationships breakdown, addresses family violence and encourages families to resolve their disputes out of Court.

Some of the main changes in the FLA include:

  • Shifting focus to the safety and best interests of the child
  • Moving from custody to guardianship and parenting arrangements
  • Clarifying the law on family violence and its impact on family Court decisions
  • Defining the responsibilities of guardians
  • Expanding the toolbox to enforce family Court orders

Since March 18, 2013, the FRA no longer applies except only in dealing with the division of assets for proceedings which were filed before the FLA came into force. This includes cases that were commenced while the FRA was the relevant statute. Essentially, this means that child-related issues are determined by the FLA, while property division issues that commenced under the FRA will continue to be governed by the FRA unless the parties agree to transition their legal matter to be governed under the FLA. Sections 250-255 of the FLA allow parties to transition legal matters concerning care of and time with children, property division, pension benefits, and restraining orders from the FRA to the FLA. Property division for cases that were started after March 18, 2013 will be governed by the FLA, including actions commenced by common-law spouses before the FLA came into force, if the pleadings are amended to include division of property and debt under the FLA.

6. Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act, (SC 2013, c 20) [FHRMIRA][edit]


FHRMIRA came into force in 2013 and governs family law cases involving property located on Indian Reserves. FHRMIRA also incorporates the local laws of the First Nation where the Reserve is located.

Matters regarding the division of matrimonial interests or rights in property on Reserve may become complicated as some orders require consultation with the Band Council and with other Band Members, other than the spouses, who have an interest or right in the home. It is important to consult FHRMIRA as well as the Band’s legislation and investigate all of the potential interests in the matrimonial home when dealing with these matters.

7. British Columbia Supreme Court Family Rules, BC Reg. 169/2009[edit]


These are the procedural rules that govern family law cases brought in the Supreme Court. Refer to these rules for the specific procedural requirements when making family law applications.

8. British Columbia Provincial (Family) Court Rules, BC Reg. 417/98[edit]


These are the procedural rules that govern family law cases brought in the Provincial Court. These rules have been amended, and the changes will come into force in May 2021.

E. Referrals[edit]

1. The Non-Legal Problem[edit]

Many clients will have problems that are not strictly legal. If the client has a personal problem, refer the client to an appropriate social service agency in the lower mainland. The Red Book is a very useful resource for this purpose. Often, even when a client does have a legal problem, the legal remedy will not resolve all issues for that person. Be aware of this and try to get clients the help they need.

2. The Legal Problem[edit]

Care should be taken in making referrals. Someone has referred this person to you and the client does not want to be shoved further down the line. Do not refer unless you are sure that the agency handles such problems.

© Copyright 2021, The Greater Vancouver Law Students' Legal Advice Society.