Elan Rotating Header Image

Family Law Act

Hot off the press: Family Law in BC: Quick Reference Tool translations

QRT translationsWe’ve translated this popular set of postcards into Chinese (simplified and traditional), Punjabi, and Spanish and made them available in print.

This set of postcards covers the key concepts of family law, while highlighting the changes due to the March 2013 Family Law Act. The tool is meant to provide a helpful overview before readers move on to more comprehensive resources.

Birth Registration Form updated


The Vital Statistics Agency has updated the Birth Registration Form. This is the form that tells the government:

  • who the parents are,
  • what the baby’s name is, and
  • other information that is necessary for a birth certificate.

The changes to the form are meant to allow for the new Family Law Act, which lets people make agreements as to who is or is not a parent, as well as allowing for a child to have more than two parents. With the new form, you can now specifically address cases of children conceived with egg and/or sperm donors.

However, as JP Boyd points out, the form poses a problem in cases where there is a surrogate mother.

Living Together or Living Apart wins an Apex award!

2013-03-22 11-03-45_Living-Together-or-Living-Apart-engWe’re proud to announce that our booklet Living Together or Living Apart has won the Grand Award from Apex!

The APEX Awards are an annual competition for publication excellence that judges publications on the basis of graphic design, editorial content, and overall communications excellence. The Grand Award is given out to honour outstanding work and was awarded to LSS in the one-of-a-kind publication category.

Congratulations to the publications team for this win and in particular Winnifred Assmann, the editor, Andrea Rodgers, the designer, and Alex Peel, our publications development coordinator, who organized the community consultation. We’d also like to thank everyone else who was involved in the production of this book, as well as the dozens of people from around the province who helped us review and refine the publication.

apex2013Living Together or Living Apart explains the basics of family law in BC, including information about being married, common-law relationships, what separation and divorce mean, how to work out parenting arrangements, and what to do about money. It is available online and in print in both English and French.

Production of Living Together or Living Apart was funded, in part, by a grant from the Law Foundation of BC.

My ex from a polyamorous relationship wants to move to another province with my kids. What can I do?

Provincial Court sees families of all shapes and sizes and it can be interesting to see how these different configurations interact with the law. Last week we wrote about the first ruling,which dealt with moving with children under the FLA. It turns out that the second ruling on moving with children is just as interesting.

In this case, the mother of two children wanted to move from BC to Alberta. The father opposed this move. What makes this interesting though is the number of uncommon factors in this case.

First, the parties’ eldest child was born during their relationship, while they were living together, and the younger child was born after they had separated. Second, the father had a more or less equal amount of time with the eldest child and a much lesser amount of time with the younger. Third, the parties were involved in a polyamorous relationship with another woman, with whom the father had also had a child, and who resided with them. Finally, the father had earlier had a fourth child with another woman, who had also lived with him and the other woman, and who he continued to parent.

For the full story, see JP Boyd’s write-up of the ruling.

Moving with children: Provincial Court’s first decision on relocation

The new Family Law Act (FLA) came into force a little over three months ago. Since then we’ve seen a slow trickle of rulings come through Provincial Court that clarify the law and will be used to inform future rulings. The most recent of these rulings was S.G. v. J.P, which dealt with moving with children. In this case, two divorced parents shared equal parenting time of their daughter and the mother wanted to move from the interior to the lower mainland with the child.

Under the FLA, 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. The exception to this is if there is a court order in place exempting this procedure. Under the Act, “relocation” is any move that will have a “significant impact” on the child’s relationship with the other guardian or person with contact.

After receiving the notice, any other guardian then has 30 days to file an objection with the court. Assuming you don’t share “substantially equal” parenting time, then the guardian proposing the move must prove:

  • the move is in good faith, and
  • reasonable arrangements have been proposed to preserve the child’s relationship with the other guardian.

If you do share equal parenting time, then you must also demonstrate that the move is in the best interest of the child.

In this specific case, the judge was satisfied that the first two conditions were met: the mother had a good reason to move, wasn’t making the decision out of spite, and had proposed a schedule that would preserve the daughter’s relationship with her father and extended family. The judge found, however, that the mother had not satisfied the third criteria due to uncertainties in the mother’s plan and the closeness of the daughter to her extended family in the interior.

As JP Boyd points out in his Family Law Blog, this shows us two important things:

  • a failure in just one of the three criteria may be enough to stop a move;
  • the third criterion —the best interest of the child — requires more thought and consideration than the first two criteria . Each of the best interests factors should be taken into account when determining the best interest of the child.

A full list of the criteria considered for determining the best interest of the child can be found in s. 37(2) of the FLA. You can find more information on relocation and the Family Law Act in our publications Guide to the New BC Family Law Act and Living Together or Living Apart.

Family law: Court deals with interim access orders

A new ruling out of Provincial Court has addressed one of the pressing issues for the transition from the previous Family Relations Act (FRA) to the current Family Law Act (FLA): how should the courts interpret older orders that don’t address all the relevant issues?

This issue arises with interim orders that grant access, but say nothing about custody or guardianship. Under the transition rules of the FLA, if you had access under the old act, you now have contact with a child under the new act and are not a guardian of your child. The problem is that if you’re not a guardian, you don’t get to make important decisions about their life (such as how the child is raised or where they live).

Interim orders only for access might have been made, for example:

  • to allow one parent to see their child when the ex refused to let it happen and it wasn’t necessary to make orders about custody or guardianship,
  • if making a decision about custody and guardianship too soon in a case would make the conflict between the parents worse, or
  • if there wasn’t enough evidence available for the judge to make an informed decision about custody or guardianship.

These interim orders can have serious effects now that the law has changed.

In this case, a father had an interim access order made under the FRA as the first stage in his family law case. By the time the matter came back to court, the FLA was in place and the mother’s lawyer argued that the father was not a guardian because the FRA order only gave him access. However, since the father had lived with the mother after the child’s birth, he would normally be a guardian under the FLA, but an order hadn’t been made for custody or guardianship under the FRA.

The judge ruled that the most important aspect to consider was whether the transition from the old to the new act took away any rights that the father may have had that had not been determined by the court under the FRA. The judge concluded that it did not, so the father was ruled to be the child’s guardian. This ruling sets a precedent that will affect all future cases that touch upon this subject.

You can read all the details and an explanation of the decision on JP Boyd’s blog.

32,140 reasons that PLEI makes a difference in BC!

48 locations across BC where we sent our publications in April

48 locations across BC where we sent our publications in April

April is always a busy month for us and this year was no exception; our publications flew off the shelves as BC residents and intermediaries looked to LSS to explain the new BC Family Law Act!

Over the course of the month, we shipped 32,140 publications (almost 20% more than last year) to people looking for plain language legal information. These publications went out to nearly 130 different organizations in 48 locations across BC. The organizations ranged from law offices to libraries, to police, to schools, to health services, to settlement agencies and more.

With the new Family Law Act only a few weeks old, it was no surprise that our family law publications were the most popular. Five of our family law publications accounted for over a third of all the publications we sent out that month. Those publications were:

Thanks to everyone who helps get these publications into the hands of people who need them. If you’re interested in finding out more about our publications, you can find them all for free (online and in print) on our website. If you have any feedback on our publications you’d like to share with us, please email us at publications@lss.bc.ca.

English Guide to the New BC Family Law Act now available online only

Guide to the New BC Family Law Act cover

We’ve run out of print copies of the English Guide to the New BC Family Law Act. However, the booklet is still available as a PDF on our websites. You can also read it online in Chinese (traditional and simplified), French, Spanish, and Punjabi. And you can still get print copies, for free, in all languages except English and French from Crown Publications.

We first released the guide in November last year, and since then, we’ve distributed more than 15,000 copies. Last month, we also released updated versions of all our family law publications that cover the topics found in the Guide to the New BC Family Law Act in more depth. You can find all our family law publications (print and online) on our website.

Hot off the press – two family law publications

FL_QuickReferenceToolFamily Law in BC — Quick Reference Tool

Back in stock! We’ve reprinted our popular quick reference tool so it’s available to order once again. As well, there is a now a French translation available online in PDF. This set of postcards covers the key concepts of family law in BC while highlighting the changes due to new Family Law Act (in effect March 18, 2013). The tool is meant to provide a helpful overview before readers move on to more comprehensive resources.


FL_FAQNew BC Family Law Act — Frequently Asked Questions (French translation)

This fact sheet about the new BC Family Law Act is now available in French (online).Presented in simple question and answer format, it covers the meaning of the new legal terms; property division rules for married or unmarried couples; and how the new act affects existing court orders or agreements.

Hot off the press: New and revised publications for the Family Law Act, part 2

All of the following publications have been updated to conform to the new BC Family Law Act (March 18, 2013).

Surviving-Relationship-Violence-and-Abuse-348-lssSurviving Relationship Violence and Abuse

Outlines what abuse is from a legal perspective and what a woman’s legal rights are if she is in an abusive relationship. Surviving Relationship Violence and Abuse explains what women can do to protect themselves and their children, and the kind of help they can get. It includes:

  • how to make a safety plan,
  • what the police can do,
  • how the court process works, and
  • how to leave an abusive relationship.

This booklet also has a chapter about violence against Aboriginal women and lists the resources available to them.

Live Safe — End Abuse Fact Sheet SeriesliveSafeEndAbuse

This series of fact sheets describes 10 aspects of relationship abuse (domestic violence) to inform and educate readers about this issue. All list community support services and legal resources for further help (phone numbers, websites, publications). Topics include:

2013-03-22 11-03-45_Living-Together-or-Living-Apart-engLiving Together or Living Apart: Common-Law Relationships, Marriage, Separation, and Divorce

Explains the basics of family law in BC. Includes information about:

  • being married or in a marriage-like relationship (also called a common-law relationship),
  • what separation and divorce mean,
  • how to work out arrangements for parenting if you have children, and
  • how to sort out money matters.

It also explains your legal options and where to get help, and includes a chapter for Aboriginal families.

If Your Child Is Taken: Your Rights As a ParentIf-Your-Child-Is-Taken-28-lss

Explains about child protection law and what parents or guardians can do if the director of Child Welfare removes their child or is planning to remove their child from the home. Describes what happens at court and where to get legal help.

Child-Protection-Process-in-British-Columbia-flow-chart-252-lssChild Protection Process in British Columbia (flow chart)

This poster describes the child protection process in flow chart form. The step-by-step overview begins at the investigation and the decision whether protection is required, shows the outcomes of the presentation hearing, and ends with the possible outcomes of the protection hearing.

Aboriginal Child Protection Process (flow chart)Aboriginal-Child-Protection-Process-flow-chart-342-lss

This poster gives a step-by-step overview of the Aboriginal child protection process and the rights of Aboriginal children and families. The poster:

  • informs Aboriginal parents of their right to get a lawyer as soon as they’ve been contacted by the Ministry of Children and Family Development (or an Aboriginal delegated agency) about a child protection issue,
  • includes how to contact legal aid to find out if you qualify for a free lawyer.

This flow chart also appears in Parents’ Rights, Kids’ Rights, which has a chapter for Aboriginal families.