10 January 2009

2008 In Review, Part 2: Non-Governmental Initiatives

Two of the more important developments in family law in 2008, outside of government-driven legislation and law reform, involved the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines and the BC Parenting Coordinators Roster.

The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines

Professors Rollie Thompson and Carol Rogerson released the final version of their paper, Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines, in July, three and a half years after the release of their Draft Proposal.

Frequent browsers of BC Family Law Resource will recall that the Advisory Guidelines describes a few formulas that can be used to calculate how much support should be paid and how long support should be paid for, once someone is found to be entitled to receive spousal support. The courts of British Columbia have embraced the Advisory Guidelines since their draft release in January 2005 with a level of enthusiasm not seen in all other provinces. In fact, our Court of Appeal, in a case called Redpath v. Redpath, made it an appealable error for a trial judge not to consider the result of the Advisory Guidelines when determining a spousal support claim!

The final Advisory Guidelines makes only modest changes from the draft release: the final version emphasizes that "indefinite" awards of spousal support aren't meant to be permanent awards of support; the ways that the formula results can be restructured have been highlighted and the exceptions to the formulas have been clarified and expanded; and, a new formula has been developed to address situations where all of the children receiving child support are adults.

More information about the final Advisory Guidelines paper can be found at www.bcfamilylawresource.com in the Spousal Support > Advisory Guidelines chapter.

The BC Parenting Coordinators Roster

The BC Parenting Coordinators Roster formally launched in September 2007, and awareness of parenting coordination as an alternative to the court process for high conflict couples increased dramatically among judges and lawyers in 2008. A significant number roster members were appointed as parenting coordinators, through agreement and by court order, last year.

The roster is presently in the process of incorporating as a non-profit society, and its inaugural annual general meeting will likely be held in the early spring of 2009.

Up to date information about the roster and the law about parenting coordination as it develops in British Columbia can be found at the roster's website, www.bcparentingcoordinators.com.