CANADA: British Columbia changes its divorce and separation laws

CANADA: Canadian divorce laws seem to vary by province in the same manner that American divorce laws vary by state. So the proposed rewrite of the Family Relations Act (the law that governs family issues such as divorce) in British Columbia will not likewise occur in, say, Quebec and other provinces as yet. Be that as it may, these are interesting changes and they could be on the cutting edge of how divorce laws in the West as a whole will be trending in the coming decades.

The main thrust of the law is to keep divorce and family law disputes out of the courts unless absolutely necessary. The proponents have correctly observed that the process is way too “adversarial” and they feel that the court should NOT be a starting point for resolving family disputes. Therefore, they are proposing requiring couples to prove to the courts they have tried mediation or a collaborative model before petitioning the court for a divorce.
There are other issues as well. For instance, the law is seeking to recognize the changed definition of “family” in our day. So more consideration is being given to same-sex couples, common law spouses and surrogate parents. Apparently, in British Columbia, there have already been cases where a child was deemed to have up to 3 legal parents! And so the proposed rewrite of the Family Relations Act will give more credence to this concept and re-define even what a parent is. Here is a capsule of the proposed changes according to

Highlights of the government white paper on proposed changes to the Family Relations Act:
• Structure the law so that court is not the only implied starting point.
• Promote a broader range of non-court dispute resolution options.
• Adopt a conflict-prevention approach to family-law disputes.
• Increase the law’s ability to deal with family violence and safety issues.
• Use less adversarial terminology.

We wish them good luck with that.
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