“It’s not what you say, but how you say it”, seems to be the most prevalent theme in the proposed Bill C-78, called the Divorce Act legislative amendments. It was introduced to the Canadian Parliament earlier this year and proposes changes with child custody. It attempts to treat children as free standing, deserving, and deciding factors in every Canadian custody case.
Here are just some of the ways Bill C-78 is changing Canadian family law.
Parents often leave children scarred in their childhoods due to the fight over custody and litigation. They end up neglecting their children’s needs during this time. They even use the children to further their case at times. The proposed changes places an emphasis on protecting the kids from the adults during this process.
Custody Orders are breached by parents because they think they can get away with it. The most common breaches are failing to provide the kids to the other parent as instructed by the law. The amendments place huge emphasis on honoring these agreements.
The amendments in Bill C-78 place an obligation on the judge to see whether joint decision making is a viable option in the case of family violence. The legislation seems to recognize that abusive relationships involve power struggles and imbalance. Hence the abuser can exercise undue influence on the one being abused. This makes the judge responsible for taking joint custody of the child off the table if this is the case.
In many custody hearings and before the court is able to take control of the situation, one parent can go behind the other’s back and tell daycare providers and medical care providers not to provide information to the other parent. This is due to an abundance of caution that organizations exercise. To undo this, Bill C-78 amends the Divorce Actlegislation to make these individuals provide information relating to children freely to their parents unless ordered by the court.
In an attempt to save the court’s resources and time to calculate child support, the legislation proposes that a provincial authority can have the power to do so. The authority can also have the power to make the payer pay it. If the payer or payee disagrees, they can file a dispute in court, but that is only if they have gone through an agency first. This is an incredibly positive step that can save literally hundreds of man hours and keep parents out of the court system and reduce their costs.
These are just some of the amendments proposed in Bill C-78 and if they go in to effect, they can effectively change how family law works in Canada.