There are changes to Canada’s Divorce Act coming March 1, 2021.

These changes are amendments to the existing act under Bill C-78, which was introduced in 2018 and made official in June 2019. It actually comes into force on March 1, 2021.

The good news is, these are amendments that are in the best interests of children and families. The bill has broad support from mediators like me, as well as mental health professionals, because it puts the needs of kids ahead of the conveniences of lawyers.

Here are the changes:

  1. Terminology

-What used to be called “Custody and Access” is now called “Parenting and Contact.” With most families sharing parenting duties in a much more collaborative way than when the Divorce Act was first established in 1986, it makes much more sense to establish conventions around shared parenting time, rather than “custody.” This provides a more relationship-focused approach guided by the principle of maximum contact for the children with their parents, unless there are safety concerns.

  1. Duty to emphasize “Family dispute resolution”

-These amendments stipulate that parents and the legal profession must emphasize family dispute resolution over litigation, meaning collaborative processes. This will not only take the pressure off of our overloaded court systems, it will mean less conflict for children of divorce.

  1. Parameters around the relocation and mobility of children

-If parents cannot agree, they must seek a professional, such as a meditator, to try to help them resolve the issue before going to court. The law sets out a process and a timeline for how to process.

These amendments seem minor, but they will work to ease the burden on the court system, which is currently huge. That makes the divorce process go more smoothly for everyone.

By insisting that divorcing couples seek conflict resolution before litigation, they are also making the divorce process less stressful for children.

These guidelines are aligned with Trusted Divorce Service’s Constructive Divorce process. We believe virtually everyone can have a divorce that is amicable, cost-effective and quick. Take our free quiz to find out what your Constructive Divorce path looks like.