Divorce Act Changes Put Children First and Reflect 20 Years of Discussion with the Family-Justice Community

On behalf of Osuji & Smith posted in Family Law on Tuesday, July 24, 2018

For more than 20 years, the Federal Divorce Act, especially the Bill C-78, hasn’t proposed a significant change as we know now. Emphasizing alternatives to courtroom battles and by using neutral language for the sharing of parental responsibilities are important steps for the family-law system.

The government would abolish the terms “custody” and “access”, which create a mentality of winners and losers, and breed conflict, for a more conciliatory tone like “parenting time.” In this way, “the primary consideration in determining the child’s best interests would be the child’s physical, emotional and psychological safety, security and well-being” announced Jody Wilson-Raybould, Justice Minister.

And for the first time, the Federal government would require lawyers and other legal advisers to encourage separated spouses to use alternatives to the courts, such as negotiations and mediation. Ottawa would also oblige divorcing spouses themselves to use options outside the courts. 

Child Support Guidelines in Alberta

The Province of Alberta Child Support Guidelines were adopted in 2005, and few amendments have been added to “establish a fair standard of support for children that ensures they benefit from the financial means of both parents.”

Provincial guidelines usually reflect the federal laws, but also include some unique amendments that relate directly to the province. For instance, in Alberta, the age of maturity is 18 while in Saskatchewan and British Columbia it is 19.

Divorce Rate in Alberta

According to Statistics Canada, in 2011, there were 327,024 people in Alberta who were legally separated or divorced. In 2012, that number jumped to 336,198 people. That means the growth rate of legally separated or divorced in Alberta has been approximately 2.73% per year.

The following table shows divorce cases, selected by provinces and territories in 2010/2011. The first province is Nova Scotia with 53,222 active cases, then Ontario with 29,496 active cases and the third place is Alberta with 24,732 active cases. 

Divorce Statistics

Sources: 

The Federal government looks to put children first in the Divorce Act overhaul. Parliamentary Reporter: Laura Stone, Justice Writer: Sean Fine. The Globe and Mail

Custody Change

Alberta ranks among the highest provinces for divorce, drinking, and gambling. By Colin McHattie. The Calgary Journal.

Juristat Article. Divorce cases in civil court, 2010/2011

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