June 3, 2013
The new Family Law Act S.B.C. 2011, c.25 came into effect on March 18, 2013 and replaces the Family Relations Act. The new legislation contains significant changes in the areas of parental rights and obligations, division of family assets and debts and support issues. It also places a much stronger emphasis on resolution of family matters outside of court.
1. Sets out the parties agreement on following issues in the event of breakdown of their marriage or common-law relationship (cohabiting in a marriage-like relationship for more than two years) for:
A. Division of assets and debts;
B. Sets out parenting responsibilities for their children; and
C. Addresses issues of child and spousal support.
(Note for the purposes of spousal support – applies to couples living in a marriage-like relationship for less than two years if they have children together.)
2. Agreements are subject to being varied by court in situations where there made have been unfairness in circumstances surrounding negotiating the agreement or where the agreement itself is significantly unfair in light of the parties’ intention to achieve certainty and finality.
3. Given the new legislation’s emphasis on resolving disputes outside of court, properly drafted agreements will be more likely to withstand court scrutiny.
1. A divorce order can only be obtained by application to the Supreme Court of British Columbia.
2. In order to qualify to apply for a divorce in BC, at least one spouse must have resided in the province for 12 months before the application.
3. Your divorce application must set out one of the following grounds for divorce:
A. The parties have lived separate and apart for over a year;
B. One of the parties has committed adultery which has not been condoned; or
C. One of the parties has subjected the other to physical or mental cruelty
4. The court will not grant a divorce unless they are satisfied that appropriate arrangements are in place for care of the children.5. Although it is possible to obtain a divorce independent of resolving all corollary issues relating to asset and debt division and support, this is generally not recommended.
Collaborative Family Law
There is an increasing trend toward resolving family disputes outside the court system. In the collaborative law process, the parties and lawyers work with other professionals to resolve issues in a non-adversarial fashion.