28 November 2012

Regulations to Family Law Act Published

The orders in council implementing the regulations required by the new Family Law Act were made on 23 November 2012 and published on 26 November 2012.

The regulations will, as of 18 March 2013, the day the Family Law Act comes into force, repeal the regulations under the old Family Relations Act and replace them with the Family Law Act Regulation (PDF) and the Family Law Act Pension Regulation (PDF). A host of regulations to other statutes, from the Contaminated Sites Regulation to the International Business Activity Regulation, are amended to accommodate the Family Law Act by orders in council 798 to 846 (PDF).

The Family Law Act Regulation deals with:
  1. the provincial employees able to work as family justice counsellors and the information and documents required for their work;
  2. the minimum training standards required for professionals working as mediators, arbitrators and parenting coordinators under the Family Law Act;
  3. the adoption and adaptation of the federal Child Support Guidelines for use in British Columbia under the Family Law Act;
  4. the continuing work of the Child Support Recalculation Service out of the Kelowna registry of the British Columbia Provincial Court;
  5. the forms required for the appointment of standby and testamentary guardians under ss. 55 and 53 of the act; and,
  6. fixing $10,000 as the limit of the value of children's property which can be managed by a guardian without court order under s. 178 of the act;
According to the press release from the Ministry of Justice, the training standards required for professionals working as mediators, arbitrators and parenting coordinators consist of:
"At least 14 hours of in-depth training on how to identify and screen for family violence or power imbalances to determine whether, or what type of, dispute resolution process is appropriate. 
"A minimum level of family-related experience and training in their area of practice. 
"A minimum of 10 hours a year, per year, of ongoing training to ensure their skill set remains relevant. 
"Extensive training on the new Family Law Act."
These training standards must be met by 1 January 2014, giving everyone just over a year to get up to speed. Lawyers working as mediators, parenting coordinators and arbitrators will also additionally be governed by the training standards (PDF) required by the Law Society as they may be amended from time to time.

It is not entirely clear what fate will befall non-lawyers who have not taken the training required by the deadline. At a minimum, it seems to me that such people will not be "mediators," "parenting coordinators" and "arbitrators" to whom the court can refer people under the Family Law Act and, in particular, that the awards of people working as arbitrators and the determinations of people working as parenting coordinators will not be "awards" or "determinations" capable of enforcement under the act.

The Ministry of Justice has published a new page on its website explaining the new regulations.