You might have heard that British Columbia has a new Family Law Act (the "Act"). You may be wondering if it affects you. Are you and your spouse separating? Are you concerned about what a parenting arrangement for your child will look like?
The Act came into force on March 18, 2013 and brought changes to family law in BC. How will this affect your matter? The Act has a very child centered approach. The best interest of the child is now the only consideration when decisions are being made about children.
Parents and the Court must consider many factors to determine what parenting arrangement is in the child’s best interest. Some of the factors are the child’s physical and emotional well-being, the ability of the involved adults to meet the needs of the child, and the history of the child’s care. A new development in family law is that parents and the court are now required to consider the effect of family violence on the child, whether it is directed toward the child or a spouse. This is positive as it recognizes that children are harmed by family violence even if they are not the target.
Most Canadians are familiar with the terms “custody” and “access”. We’ve all heard someone say that they “got” custody of their kids or they “lost” custody. Those terms are not used in the Act (but they are still used in the Divorce Act, which is a Federal act).
So what are you asking for if not custody? You will be sorting out guardianship, parenting time, parenting responsibilities, and contact. Parents who have lived with a child are generally guardians of that child. Guardians will build a parenting time schedule that is in the best interest of the child.
They will also figure out who is responsible for the parenting responsibilities that are set out in the Family Law Act. These responsibilities cover a range of areas, such as day to day care, or making medical decisions. Parents or other parties who are not guardians will not have parenting time, but they may still get specified contact with the child.
For example, Jen and Mike’s child, Madison, is 12 years of age. Jen and Mike were both involved in childcare before the separation and they both have a strong relationship with Madison, so a Court may decide (or hopefully the parties can agree before the matter goes to Court) that Jen and Mike will each have Madison in their care on a week on week off parenting time schedule. Jen and Mike are able to communicate with each other so the parenting responsibilities may be held jointly and they will be expected to reach decisions, such as picking a school, together.
At Hemminger Law Group we can help you reach a childcare arrangement that is in your child’s best interest. Please contact us for a consult.
For a consult about your family matter, please contact Alison Eustace of Hemminger Law Group.
Return from Family Law Act