18 March 2013

Guest Column: Attorney General on the New Family Law Act

by the Honourable Shirley Bond,
Minister of Justice and Attorney General

For the first time in more than three decades, British Columbia has brought in landmark legislation introducing new, modernized family law.

If you’re a frequent visitor to this blog, you are probably aware of the broad scope of changes that take effect under the new Family Law Act today. Over the past six years, JP Boyd has provided an abundance of information on the subject and this blog has served as a valuable family law resource in our province. His work to explain in plain language the changes under the new act has significantly contributed to the public understanding of new law, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for his work and highlight some of the key pieces in this new legislation.

The Family Law Act is centered on supporting modern B.C. families, no matter how they are defined. The unfortunate reality is that the number of families going through separation and divorce is on the rise. Family life and society in general, has changed significantly since 1979, which is when the outdated Family Relations Act took effect. Over time, the courts have stepped in and made rulings that reflect our modern society.

Our new family law reflects family justice reform in a way that better represents the values of our citizens, and it addresses and provides clarity around important topics like out-of-court dispute resolution, property division and parenting arrangements and family violence. Most importantly, the new family law is about ensuring children’s interests and safety are given the utmost priority when families go through the emotional turmoil that often comes with separation and divorce.

Our government’s work to replace the old Family Relations Act and replace it with today’s Family Law Act has been underway since 2006, and has been guided by four B.C. attorneys general along the way.

On behalf of the B.C. government, I would like to offer gratitude and appreciation to JP Boyd, as well as other members of the Family Law Act Advisory Committee, for the countless hours they have devoted to helping us reform, prepare and train for the new Family Law Act. Their work has not gone unnoticed, and B.C. families will be better served as a result of their efforts.

About the Honourable Shirley Bond

Shirley Bond was elected in 2001 and 2005 as the MLA for Prince George-Mount Robson, and re-elected for a third term in 2009 as the MLA for Prince George-Valemount. Shirley was appointed Minister of Justice and Attorney General on 8 February 2012. Prior to her new role, she was appointed Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General on 14 March 2011 and Acting Attorney General on 18 August 2011. She is the first woman in British Columbia to hold these positions.

As Minister of Justice and Attorney General, she is responsible for police and correctional services, the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles, crime prevention and victims’ assistance, and emergency management. As Attorney General, she is also responsible for criminal justice and family law, court administration, legal aid and public legal education, family maintenance and legal services to government.