The New BC Family Law Act, Compared to Ontario’s Family Laws

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Effective March 18, 2013, British Columbia made major changes to their family laws and introduced the BC Family Law act. This was a big overhaul in areas such as

• Family law language changes
• Making agreements to stay out of court
• Dispute resolution
• Parenting arrangements
• Child and spousal support
• Dividing property and debt
• Family law protection orders
• Moving with children

A summary of the new laws are available here, if you have friends, family, or property in British Columbia.

Our Orillia lawyers and Newmarket divorce lawyers will see how the new Family Law Act compares to Ontario’s laws:

Defining Common Law

BC: The new law groups married couple together with people that have “lived with another person in a marriage-like relationship for at least two years… unmarried spouses will have the same property rights as married spouses.”

Ontario: Generally, living together for 3 years is considered common law, but does not entitle former “spouses” to property rights.

Moving With a Child

BC: Under the new act, a guardian who wants to relocate with a child must give 60 days’ notice to every other guardian or person who has contact with the child, unless the guardian has obtained a court order that says he or she does not have to give notice before moving.

Ontario: When negotiating the terms of a Separation Agreement, most people address the issue of mobility, by setting out a requirement that either parent is to give the other parent a certain number of days’ notice (for example, 60 or 90 days’ notice).

Family Violence

BC: The new act expands the definition to include:

• Physical abuse
• Sexual abuse
• Emotional and psychological abuse
• Forcibly confining a person or restricting the person’s freedom
• Withholding the necessities of life.

Ontario: The Ontario Attorney General states that abuse includes:

“Physical or sexual force, actual or threatened, by your partner or ex-partner. Threatening, hitting, kicking, punching, pushing, stalking and harassing another person.”

“Domestic violence can also include threats to harm children, other members of a family, pets and property… Domestic violence can also take the form of psychological/emotional abuse, verbal abuse, and economic/financial abuse.”

About Brian Galbraith

Brian Galbraith is the owner and founder of Galbraith Family Law Professional Corporation. Brian is known in the legal community for his commitment to efficiently practicing family law using technology and streamlining the divorce processes.