Four Reasons Why BC’s New Family Law Act is Good for Fathers

British Columbia’s new family laws will be in effect on March 18, 2013. For husbands and fathers who have felt victimized and exploited by the Family Relations Act 1979, there is every reason to be optimistic that the new law will assist them to achieve the fairness and equality they have been fighting for.

The first bit of good news is that effective March 13, 2012 the new law will apply to everyone, even if they commenced a family law proceeding under the current Family Relations Act that has not yet been concluded, with one exception. Property claims made under the old Act will be governed by that legislation, unless both parties agree that the new law should be applied.

The changes in law that will assist fathers include:

1. Pejorative terminology is removed:

The language of “custody” and “access” used in the current legislation left many parents feeling marginalized and overlooked as fully contributing parents who provided value to their children’s lives. These terms also connoted an “I win, you lose” philosophy. The language of the new Family Law Act is “parenting time” and “contact”, words that do not imply ownership of children by one parent to the exclusion of the other.

2. Endless court applications regarding children can be avoided:

For fathers who are constantly struggling to see their children regularly, or have a vacation with their child, or obtain their child’s passport for travel, or the dozens of other irritants that require fathers to go back to court, the new law has introduced and codified the role of a Parenting Coordinator. This person, who may be a counselor or a lawyer, will be empowered under the law to make binding decisions with regards to parenting issues, with the criteria being “the best interests of the child only”.

3. Informal parenting arrangements will be respected:

In scenarios where a father and mother have recently separated and have worked out a voluntary parenting plan, one parent cannot unilaterally change the plan. What often occurs is the parties will agree to a particular schedule, but when mom learns about dad’s new girlfriend, or is angry over some event involving dad, it is not uncommon for mother to unilaterally impede the regularly scheduled parenting time of the father. This new law forbids this kind of unilateral action.

4. Denial of parenting time will be treated seriously:

One of the most common complaints from fathers in high conflict marriage breakdown is the capricious, unreasonable denial of parenting time as punishment for the parties’ separation, even when the separation was requested by the mother.

The new law recognizes the importance of a father’s time with his children and will take serious steps to enforce parenting time. The key is that a father must complain to the court within 12 months of the access denial. In those circumstances the court may order compensatory parenting time to make up for the time denied. The court can also order a denying parent to go to counseling, pay a $5000.00 fine or reimburse the father for all of his expenses including travel expenses, lost wages and child care expenses incurred as a result of the refusal to comply with the informal parenting arrangement or the terms of any agreement or court order.

In my view the government has enacted new law that is meant to assist parents who do not want to be excised from their children’s lives. The important matter now is that the public be educated as to the upcoming changes so they can improve their relationships with their children.

A final note: there are many mothers who do not conduct themselves in ways described above, but when they do the emotional and financial damage to the family is devastating and destructive, both for the parents and the children.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

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10 thoughts on “Four Reasons Why BC’s New Family Law Act is Good for Fathers

  1. I’m not that much of a internet reader to be honest, but your blog is really good, keep it up. All the best

  2. Ms. Lang, I was involved in a high conflict custody case in which my mother and I were eventually awarded joint custody by Mr. Justice Slade in March 2009. Unfortunately, the state of Nebraska where the mother was living with our daughter under an interim order changed their state law in violation of international treaties. The federal government have filed an official complaint to the U.S. State Department. I’ll note that you represented the mother initially, but my question is do you believe the new law has anything to offer a parent in my situation. Thanks, Steve

  3. As a committed, loved and undying Father, I applaud and encourage all of this plot and your posts,
    (I do wonder, however, if a particular counsel had you remove one or two of my posts from (August?) 2011).

    In a result, that post which I made has pathetically been injected/brought into an existing BCSC Vancouver family proceeding and subsequent LSBC file(s), alleged to have been posted April 12, 2012. False! I posted it over a year ago, and I recall that Ms. Lang responded & encouraged my insight and parental latitudes. So much for freedom of speech?

    Spy vs. Spy or is it Mission Impossible? Uggh, get on with our parenting lives sans litigation.

    -Harry Andrew

  4. Another great article Georgialee. I really enjoy your articles on family law issues, and based on the comments I see so far, it does wonders helping people going through these problems.

  5. I’m getting denied access as well as not being included in any decisions being made, his mother and her fiance have put my 13 year old on a ADD drug, just found out about it through my son, the doctors wont even talk to me unless I sit down with them face to face with al my court documents proving I have some sort of custody (Joyce Model), when I consulted my lawyer she said there is little that can be done and that my ex would most likely get a reprimand from the judge and Id spend thousands, again, just trying to get in front of a judge. I’ve been denied access dozens of time, including this past weekend, dozens of emails proving this and no where to turn, but miss an FMEP payment and its a total different story… no where to turn…

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