Recent Changes to Family Law in British Columbia

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Revision as of 16:15, 15 February 2021 by Jpboyd (talk | contribs)
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Family law has changed a lot over the past 15 years or so, especially if you live in British Columbia. In 2010, we had new Supreme Court rules just for family law cases. In 2013, the Family Law Act replaced the Family Relations Act and brought in new ways of thinking about parenting after separation, a new test that applies when someone wants to move away after separation, a new scheme for dividing property between spouses, new provisions about parenting coordination, and new tools for judges to manage court processes. In 2019, the Provincial Court established a pilot project in the Victoria courthouse aimed at the early resolution of family law disputes, complete with a whole new set of court rules just for the pilot project. In 2020, the Family Law Act was changed to also address the arbitration of family law disputes, in terms very different from those of the old Arbitration Act, and the Victoria pilot project was expanded to include the Surrey courthouse. 2020 was also the year that COVID-19 was declared to be a global pandemic and resulting in even more changes to day-to-day court processes.

In 2021, sweeping changes to the federal Divorce Act came into effect that changed how we talk about parenting after separation and included a new test for figuring out children's best interests and a new test for when someone wants to move away. Thankfully, for people already used to the Family Law Act, the changes to the Divorce Act felt very familiar, as if the federal government had simply copied huge swathes from our legislation. However, the changes to the Divorce Act also resulted in changes to the Child Support Guidelines, changes to the forms used by the Supreme Court and the introduction of brand new forms used when someone wants to move away or objects to someone moving away.

Frankly, the pace of change has been a bit dizzying, especially for those of us who prepare public and professional education materials on family law.


The federal Divorce Act

The purpose of this requirement is to make sure that the court is aware of any legal proceedings that might be going on outside the family law case, so that it doesn't, for example, give lots of unsupervised parenting time to a spouse who is accused of abusing the other spouse or the children.

Resources and links



This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by JP Boyd, February 15, 2021.

Creativecommonssmall.png JP Boyd on Family Law © John-Paul Boyd and Courthouse Libraries BC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada Licence.