New Family Law Act

On March 18, 2013 the new Family Law Act will come into force. The Act will dramatically change many aspect of family law in British Columbia.

The Act will encourage parties to utilize methods other than courts to resolve their disputes, by specifically providing for the use of mediation, collaborative procedures, arbitration, and parenting coordinators before matters get to the courts.

The Act also mandates the use of Family Justice Centers and describes the role of the Centers’ mediators and counsellors in the dispute resolution process.

The way children are dealt with by the courts is changed to specifically state that the only consideration of the courts in a parenting dispute will the best interests of the child. The Act state that “best interests” includes the views of the child.

Property divison principles are changed in two ways by the Act. First, the property division provisions of the act will apply to marriage like relationships of greater than two years. That means that cohabitation agreements are of much greater importance than they were previously, and that the previous complexity around property ownership between non married couples is largely eliminated.

The second major change is the way family property is divided on separation. The whole underlying concept of ownership and division of property is being altered, to provide for a scheme of distribution that recognizes each spouses’ contribution to the family asset pool, and to make it more difficult to rebut the assumption that family assets will be divided equally on separation.

For a more comprehensive summary of the new Act go to … http://www.ag.gov.bc.ca/legislation/family-law/index.htm

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