19 June 2012

Effective Date Announced for Family Law Act

The Ministry of Justice has announced that the new Family Law Act will come fully into force on 18 March 2013. Mark your calendars!

Among other things, the coming-into-force date means that a persons who fall within the act's definition of "spouse" in s. 3 will be entitled to bring an application under the new act for spousal support or the division of property as long as:
  1. married spouses were divorced or had their marriage annulled on or after 18 March 2011, or
  2. unmarried spouses separated on or after 18 March 2011.
The provisions for these time limits can be found at s. 198.

Update: 20 June 2012

In an email distributed today, the Attorney General writes:
"The implementation date has been set for early 2013 with a number of considerations in mind. 
It will allow the Ministry of Justice sufficient time to make the necessary systems changes.  Over the next several months, the regulations required under the Act will be finalized.  And, perhaps most importantly, we want to allow legal practitioners and other professionals who provide support to families dealing with separation and divorce to familiarize themselves with the broad scope of changes before the Act comes into force. 

"In addition to the implementation date, the necessary changes have also now been made to the Supreme Court and Provincial Court family rules.  These changes, which will also come into force March 18, 2013, will ensure court processes are consistent with the new family law changes."
The Attorney General also announced that the Provincial Court (Family) Rules will be revised after the coming-into-force of the Family Law Act, which, given her announcement that the amendments necessary to accommodate the new act are ready to go, seems to suggest that a broader reform of that court's rules is also in the works:
"In addition to the amended family rules announced today, I can confirm that the Provincial Court of British Columbia intends to proceed, in conjunction with the Ministry of Justice, with a further phase of Provincial Court family rules amendments following the coming into force of the new Act."