Amendments to the Divorce Act: Parenting Terminology

Hi, my name is Megan Jamieson and I am an Associate with Feldstein Family Law Group. Today, I will be discussing the recent amendments to the Divorce Act.

The Department of Justice announced that Bill C78, an Act to amend the Divorce Act, received royal assent on June 21, 2019. The Bill makes significant amendments to Canada's federal family laws related to divorce, separation and parenting with a view to making them more responsive to Canadian families' evolving needs.

Many of the changes to the Divorce Act do not take effect upon royal assent. Most of the amendments will only come into force next year and the delay is intended to allow for necessary changes to forms, rules and procedures at the provincial and territorial levels.

The amendments to the Divorce Act intend to do the following:

  1. Replace terminology related to custody and access with terminology related to parenting;
  2. Establish a non-exhaustive list of criteria with respect to the best interests of the child;
  3. Create duties for parties and legal advisers to encourage the use of family dispute resolution processes;
  4. Introduce measures to assist the courts in addressing family violence;
  5. Establish a framework for the relocation of a child; and
  6. Simplify certain processes, including those related to family support obligations.

With respect to the change in terminology, this is largely focused on parenting terminology. Essentially, the amended Act will replace the use of words such as “custody” and “access” with “parenting orders” and concepts of “parenting time” and “decision making responsibility”. This is intended to encourage parents to focus on the needs of their children, rather than on a “winner/loser” mentality.

If you would like more information about the Divorce Act and how the amendments may affect your separation and divorce, please visit our website at www.separation.ca.

If you would like to schedule a free initial consultation to speak with one of our lawyers about your family law matter, please call us at 905-581-7222.