Bill C-78 recently received Royal Assent in the federal parliament. The bill — which affects British Columbia residents in the throes of divorce as well as other couples in the country — strengthens federal family laws and also brings them into the 21st century. These are the first changes made in 20 years to three major laws affecting families.
The three federal laws that now have been formally amended are the Divorce Act; the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act. The new law will focus on having individuals do what is in the best interests of children involved in divorce, speak to family violence, make the justice system more efficient and accessible and help to reduce poverty. In keeping with these goals, the government plans to implement more streamlined processes to do so.
Amendments will take time to implement. For instance, changes to the Divorce Act will take about a year to come in effect. Some changes that affect other areas will start to come into effect immediately and within a two-year time frame. These changes are expected to affect nearly two million children in Canada whose parents are either separating or divorcing.
A British Columbia lawyer experienced in family law will be able to explain to his or her client going through a divorce how the updated laws will affect a client’s personal circumstances. New laws may be confusing and hard to understand. A lawyer can bring clarity to those issues surrounding the divorce process which can seem daunting.