Delays on Divorce Reform Will Further Impact Children

On June 21, 2019, the Government of Canada gave Royal Assent to Bill C-78.
The changes to Family Law, the first federally in 20 years, promote the best interests of the child, address family violence, and make the family justice system more accessible.
On June 5, 2020, the Honorable David Lametti, confirmed the delay of these changes to March 2021, due to extraordinary circumstances due to COVID-19.

In Family Law, children’s needs should be a priority when making parenting decisions. Changes to the Divorce Act would have gone a long way to doing so.
Some of the changes include ‘Best Interest’ criteria which is a list of specific factors that a court would use to determine what is best in a particular situation.
Another change is more child-focused terminology. We have long been saying that custody seems to set out a ‘winner’ and ‘loser’ which does not benefit children. Reference to ‘parenting time’ and ‘decision making’ duties is more neutral and will hopefully blaze the trail for a more co-operative arrangement between parents.
The Bill also addresses Family Violence and the court will now have to assess prior violence when making parenting decisions.
The changes will also go a long way toward making the Family Justice system more accessible.
The delays are certainly most unfortunate for families in untenable situations. These delays, in addition to COVID forcing families to remain together in potentially unsafe environments, hurts children, the innocent victims in all of this.
Lawyers are hopeful, that even so, courts will begin to use some of the framework set out in the Bill, to offer children safer parenting arrangements.

To learn more email Sharon Numerow at Alberta Divorce Finances.