The New Family Law Act in BC - Batchelor Stamm Law Corporation

The new BC Family Law Act creates changes to
family law in British Columbia.
Some of these changes are significant and
important to be aware of .
What are some of the key changes to the
The definition of Common Law couples
Division of property and debt
Child Support
Relocation with Children
Family Law Protection Orders
Conduct Orders and Court Orders
Common Law couples are included in the New Family Law
Couples who live together for two or more years in a
“marriage like relationship” are able to make claims under
the new law.
Claims are only valid up to two years after the couple stops
living together.
What kind of rights does this give to Common Law
• Property division
• Spousal Support
• Debt division
» In the new act there are two types of property:
1. Family property (which is divisible)
2. Excluded property (which is not divisible)
» Therefore, not all family based property is
necessarily divided 50-50 as it was under the
old law.
Family Property
» Any property that one or
both spouse acquires while
they are together
» Any increase in the family
property is divisible
Excluded Property
» Property acquired before
the relationship
» Gifts or inheritances
» Settlements or
compensation awards
» Insurance policies
» Property in a
discretionary trust
» Property held in trust for
the spouse
» Property gained from
property or disposition of
Couples may opt out of certain aspects of the
new Family Law Act with well written prenuptial or cohabitation agreements.
The court will decide, based on fairness to all
parties, whether the agreement should be
» In some cases the court may
now decide to divide
property unequally (not 5050). The court will do this if
it decides it would be
“significantly unfair” to
divide family or excluded
assets equally.
» Under the new act, family debt
is also divided. Family debts
• Debts which are owed when
you separate
• Debts which are taken on after
separation to maintain family
» Debts are shared equally
unless the court decides
» Under the new law parents, step parents and
even guardians must pay child support. There is
a hierarchy of support: first parents, then step
parents and lastly, guardians.
» Child support still takes priority over spousal
support. If you can only pay one, it will be child
» The amount of child support paid by step
parents may be determined by :
1. The length of time the child lived with the step
2. What the living standard was while the child
was living with the step parent.
» The estate of the payor may have to continue to
pay child support after death
» Under the new Act, Children under 19 who
willingly leave home or get married may not be
eligible for child support, except in cases of
domestic violence or intolerable living
Changes to Spousal
» Under the new Act spousal support extends to :
• Married couples;
• Couples who have lived together in a marriagelike relationship for at least two years;
• Couples who have lived together in a marriagelike relationship for less than two years and
have had a child together.
Relocation: moving with your children.
Your new responsibilities.
» A relocation is any move that while have a
“significant impact” on the child’s relationship
with another guardian.
» Under the new act, if you want to move your
child you must give 60 days notice to the other
guardian, unless a court says otherwise.
» If the other guardian doesn’t agree to the move
they may file an objection with the court within
30 days of being warned of the move.
» The guardian who wants to move the child
must show the court that they are doing so in
good faith.
» Good faith means there are legitimate reasons
for the move, the move will not affect the
child’s quality of life etc.
» In cases where there is a risk
of family violence, or where
there is no relationship
between the child and
guardian, relocation notices
may not be necessary.
Family Law Protection Orders
» Protection orders have taken the place of
restraining orders under the new Act.
» Protection orders limit contact and
communication between parties if there is a
risk of harm.
» Protection orders protect people from family
» Violence can be physical, sexual or emotion.
Violence also includes withholding the
necessities of life or obstructing freedom
» Protection orders are not
enforced through the Act,
but if you violate a protection
order it is a criminal offense
and the police can enforce it
under the criminal code.
» The new Act allows the court to create conduct
orders, which are court orders to:
• Help manage the court process;
• Manage people involved in the court process;
• Encourage dispute settlement
Under a conduct order you can be ordered to:
Attend a counselling session
Attend a dispute resolution session
Follow an existing court order
Stop communicating with your spouse or
someone else
• Make payments on your family home
» Case management orders are court orders
which may:
• Cancel or dismiss a claim
• Tell one party to not make any more court
applications without the court’s permission
• Dictate that future applications for orders must
be made to same judge
» All orders under the Family
Law Act are enforced by the
courts, except for family
protection orders.
» The court may enforce parenting orders by
requiring make-up time with the child, ordering
that a person attends counselling or ordering
that one person pay another part for the breach
of the order
» To enforce certain orders the court may make a
• Post bond
• Pay a fine of up to 5000$
• Go to jail for up to 30 days

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