Bill C-78 Changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Changes to Divorce, Parenting and Garnishment Coming

Canada’s Divorce Act, and parenting and garnishment laws, may soon be changing.

As of November 2018, Bill C-78 was still being debated by Parliament. Here’s what the changes, introduced by the federal government May 22, 2018, could mean for your family.

Bill C-78 would:

  • champion children’s best interests
  • protect families from domestic violence
  • reduce child poverty
  • and make access to family justice easier.

Among changes, child custody would be called parenting orders. Child access would become parenting time. Making the language courts and lawyers use less adversarial emphasizes you and your former spouse have decision making responsibilities to your children if your relationship ends.

When family courts consider where children will live, they make the best interests of your child paramount. Even if you think shared custody would be best, the court can decide otherwise. Under Bill C-78, the judge would consider every factor that might affect your child’s interests.

For example, the judge could look at your child’s needs for their age and stage of development, including their views and preferences.

A judge might consider how well your child gets along with you, your former and current spouse and their partners, grandparents, siblings and other important people in their life. How well you and your former spouse cared for the child in past and your plans for your child’s future, as well as your willingness and ability to care for your child, would count.

Your child’s cultural, linguistic, religious and spiritual upbringing and heritage would matter. As would you and your former spouses’ ability to cooperate on issues affecting your children.

Domestic violence is a huge concern to family judges. The new law strives to help protect your child from psychological, emotional or physical harm. Negotiation, mediation or collaboration would be the preferred way of resolving differences. But the proposed law also gives courts more measures to stop violence.

Other changes relate to moving your child to another province or country and ensuring child support payments are made.

It’s been almost 35 years since the last major updates to Canada’s Divorce Act. If adopted, divorced couples can look forward to welcome revisions to protect their and their children’s interests.