What's new in family law

May 17, 2021: Provincial Court Family Rules

New Provincial Court Family Rules came into effect on May 17, 2021. The rules are meant to encourage people to try to resolve legal issues by agreement before going to court, unless court action is needed. See Provincial Court registries for more information or the Provincial Court website.

March 1, 2021: Divorce Act changes

The March 1, 2021 changes to the Divorce Act involve new family law duties for parents to act in the best interests of their child(ren). The changes are meant to help parents come to agreements and avoid going to court where possible. Learn more at the Department of Justice (federal government) website.

December 7, 2020: Surrey Provincial (Family) Court

Family cases in Surrey (Family) Court now follow the same new procedures previously introduced in Victoria. See Surrey and Victoria Family Court for more information. See Surrey and Victoria Family Court for more information.

August 16, 2019: Free mediation assistance program in Greater Vancouver

Two Provincial Courthouses in the Greater Vancouver area can offer some families free mediation services to help them with their family law disputes. Qualifying families may be invited to attend a free session run by a lawyer who is a certified mediator.

This program has been running in several Supreme Court locations since 2012 and has recently expanded to include services in the Provincial Courthouses in Robson Square and Richmond.

Read more at the Provincial Court of BC.

May 13, 2019: Family cases in Victoria

Cases in Victoria Provincial (Family) Court now follow different procedures. See Family matters at the Victoria Courthouse.

September 1, 2018: South Peace Region family mediation option extended

The Northern Navigator Initiative, an option for family mediation referrals in the South Peace Region, has been extended until April 30, 2019, after which a full evaluation will be completed.

For more information, see the Notice to the Profession and Public (PDF) from the Provincial Court of BC.

January 15, 2018: South Peace Region family mediation option extended

The Northern Navigator Initiative, an option for family mediation referrals in the South Peace Region, has been extended until August 31, 2018, after which a full evaluation will be completed. The Northern Navigator Initiative is in effect in the Provincial Court Registries in Fort St. John, Dawson Creek, and Chetwynd.

A BC Provincial Court judge may order a family to meet with an intake coordinator, called the Navigator. The Navigator conducts a detailed intake to determine appropriate resources, and referrals to community and legal services. The Navigator completes a Navigator Summary Form to assist the Court in considering whether to order the family to engage in mediation.

For more information, see the Notice to the Profession and Public (PDF) from the Provincial Court of BC.

November 22, 2017: Federal Child Support Tables changes

The Federal Child Support Tables were updated in 2017 to reflect more recent tax rules. The updated tables come into effect on November 22, 2017, and you should use the updated 2017 Table Look-up to calculate a child support amount from November 22, 2017 onwards. Use the 2011 Table Look-up to calculate a child support amount owed for a period before November 22, 2017.

For more information, see the Department of Justice website.

April 3, 2017: Parenting After Separation changes

Separating parents in the 17 mandatory PAS communities can choose to take the class online or in person, effective April 3, 2017. In-person classes are no longer available in North Vancouver, Chilliwack, and Richmond, but you can attend a nearby in-person session. The new PAS Certificate of Attendance will be the same for all mandatory and voluntary participants, both online and in-person. All previous PAS certificates will be accepted as proof of completion of the class from April 3 onwards.

For more information, see the BC Government website.

December 5, 2016: Family Law Protection Order changes

Effective December 5, 2016, the Ministry of Justice assumes responsibility for coordinating service of FLA protection orders issued when the respondent is not present in court. A process server under contract with the Ministry of Justice will serve such protection orders and the ministry, rather than the applicant, will pay for the service. The process server will be responsible for completing and submitting an Affidavit of Service for the court file upon completion of personal service.

May 27, 2015: Family Maintenance Program changes

Child support payments will no longer be considered income for parents collecting income or disability assistance, effective September 1, 2015. This means parents will no longer have to assign their maintenance rights to the ministry. A letter was sent to parents notifying them that they have until June 5 to continue any existing assignments of maintenance to the ministry. The ministry will still help parents get a child support order, but effective June 5, parents have to voluntarily assign their maintenance rights to the ministry to get that help. For more information, see The end of assigning maintenance rights: What does it mean? on The Factum blog and Family Maintenance Program Changes on the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction website.

June 1, 2014: Amendments to the Child, Family and Community Service Act

Amendments to section 13 of the Child, Family and Community Service Act – when a child is in need of protection – came into force on June 1, 2014. There is also a minor amendment to section 5 of the act.

The Act is amended to say that a child is in need of protection if the child is emotionally harmed by the parent's conduct, or by living in a situation where there is domestic violence by or toward someone they live with. Another amendment expands the power of the Director of Child Protection to provide services to support children who witness domestic violence.

For more information, see the BC Laws website. Changes to Schedule 3 are outlined in Order in Council 255.

July 16, 2014: New Supreme Court family law pilot project

The Supreme Court has announced a two-year pilot project to help self-represented litigants in family cases. Beginning on September 2, 2014, a roster of several judges in both Vancouver and New Westminster will be assigned on a rotating basis to hear family matters, including trials, chambers, and conferences.

A family law lawyer will be hired to serve as a resource for the Court, and to support the development of jurisprudence under the Family Law Act and various initiatives for improving access to justice.

For more information, see the Court of BC website.

May 26, 2014: Amendments to the Family Law Act

The Justice Statutes Amendment Act came into effect May 26, 2014. Among other changes, it amends the Family Law Act (FLA) (March 2013) to clarify sections related to the division of property at the end of a spousal relationship, including those dealing with trusts and gifts received during a relationship.

The amendments define "weapon" and "firearm," giving them the same meaning as under the Criminal Code. The amendments also allow judges to order that family members not possess other specified objects or have the documents necessary to legally own or possess a weapon or firearm.

The Justice Statutes Amendment Act also makes minor amendments to the Family Maintenance Enforcement Act to correct sections that were affected when the FLA was enacted.

March 18, 2013: New BC Family Law Act in effect today!

BC's new Family Law Act comes into effect today.

For more information, see BC celebrates new Family Law Act's significance on the Ministry of Attorney General website.