Some terms in the Divorce Act will change on March 1, 2021
Effective March 1, 2021, the federal Divorce Act will use terms similar to those in the BC Family Law Act.
- The term decision-making responsibility will replace custody to describe the responsibility for making important decisions and getting information about the children after separating.
- The term parenting time will be used to describe the time that a spouse spends with their child and is responsible for supervising and caring for the child.
- The term contact will be used instead of access to describe the time children spend with a person who isn't a spouse. This includes grandparents, aunts and uncles, and others.
We're Legal Aid BC, located in British Columbia, Canada. We're a non-profit society that provides free legal information to all, and legal advice and representation to British Columbians with low incomes.
The law is complicated, and not everyone can afford a lawyer. We work with expert family lawyers to create clear and accurate information to help people sort out their legal issues. We also help people to find free and low-cost advisory services when they need extra help.
As a registered charity, most of our funding comes from:
- the Province of British Columbia,
- the Law Foundation of BC,
- the BC Notary Foundation, and
- people like you who donate online.
It's thanks to the generous support we receive from the Law Foundation and Notary Foundation that we can create websites like this.
What's Family Law in BC about?
Family Law in BC provides accessible legal information and step-by-step guides to help people through difficult legal processes. We have guides on how to do your own divorce, write a separation agreement, and deal with court orders after a separation.
The site covers all aspects of family law, including:
- separation and divorce,
- dividing property and debt,
- child and spousal support,
- parenting arrangements like custody and access, and
- child protection and removal.
Family law issues can affect other parts of your life, so we also have information on:
- abuse and family violence, and
- immigration problems that might result from a break up, like sponsorship breakdown.
These are difficult and emotional issues, so we've tried to make things as easy as possible. We've included self-care reminders, and information on where to find legal support if you need it.
Try MyLawBC for information tailored to your family situation. If you're stuck trying to reach an agreement with your ex-spouse, MyLawBC's Dialogue Tool can help you negotiate, and the Family Resolution Centre can mediate parenting disputes.
What can Family Law in BC do for me?
This site provides you with legal information, not legal advice. That means that the information here is general and doesn't consider your specific situation. It's meant only to help you identify your legal issue and the options that might be available to address it.
If you need legal advice, a lawyer or qualified paralegal can look at your situation and tell you what you should do.
Where can I get legal advice?
Family Law in BC can’t give you legal advice but we have services that can.
Family duty counsel lawyers can be found in courthouses and help people who are representing themselves in court. They can meet with you to learn about your issue and give you advice on what you should do.
Family advice lawyers help with separation and divorce issues. If you want advice on what to do but can work out your divorce without going to court, they can help.
Family LawLINE is a phone service that can advise you on what your next step should be in your family law issue. It’s available across BC and they have interpreters for you if you don’t speak English.
Find more information about these services on the Legal Aid BC website.
I can't afford a lawyer
Legal aid lawyers are available for some family law issues. These include situations where:
- you or your child are in danger,
- you’re stopped from seeing your child, or
- when the government has taken your child away or is threatening to.
Find out what issues are covered and if you qualify on the Legal Aid BC website.
What about issues other than family law?
This website only covers family law, but we have other websites that might help.
If you're Aboriginal, Aboriginal Legal Aid in BC can help you understand your legal rights and connect you with people who can help you with your legal issues.
MyLawBC can give you a plan to help you resolve different legal issues, including plans for how to:
- respond if you've been served with a court document,
- write a will,
- make a safety plan if you're being abused, and
- deal with a foreclosure notice.
Visit Legal Aid BC if you want to apply for legal aid. Our lawyers can give you advice or represent you in court if you earn under a certain amount and your legal problem involves serious family law issues, child protection, immigration, or criminal matters. You can also find our free publications to teach you about the law and your rights.