B.C. Men's Resource Centre

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Family Law Act (FLA)

Posted by menbc.ca on March 21, 2013 at 10:45 PM

On March 18, 2013 the Family Law Act took effect replacing the Family Relations Act. Given the amount of resources that went into crafting the Act and the number of years that it will be in place, it is quite limited in scope.

1) There are no intitiatives to help families before they seek help at a lawyer's office or before they appear at the front door of the courthouse. Surely, if conflict or other dissatisfaction leads to the break up of a relationship steps must be taken early on to help couples.

2) People's emotions (for example, anger, resentment, jealousy, hurt, unhappiness) are at the heart of breakups, yet there are no initiatives to help couples with them before, during and after a breakup. Agreements between partners will not be observed if they do not manage their emotions, hence parental alienation, denial of parenting time, and making false allegations against the other parent.

The government did an inadequate job of rolling out the Act. There has been no ongoing public education for it. People have been caught by surprise. Consider common law couples who have been together for close to two years. The FLA now says that these couples have the same property rights as married couples. They need time to consider the ramifications of this change. Do they continue together? Who do they consult? Where do they go for help?

Similarly, parents need time to understand and properly digest the new terminology in the Act, such as parental responsibilities, parenting time, and guardianship. The following sentence contains a misuse of terminology. Can you spot the error and explain the error? "Since I am a guardian of my child, I want more contact with him/her".

Jerry Arthur-Wong, Executive Director, BC Men's Resource Centre

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