Parenting and BC Law
When a couple with children separates, they need to make some very important decisions, such as how they will care for their children and how each parent will be involved in their children’s lives.
The BC Family Law Act says that only the best interest of the child must be considered when making parenting decisions after separation. The Family Law Act promotes a co-operative approach to parenting arrangements. The law focuses on the parents’ responsibilities to their children, rather than the parents’ “rights”.
The language in the law has been changed to reflect this. The terms “custody” and “access” are no longer used in B.C.’s family law. The words custody and access suggest there are winners and losers when it comes to parenting.
The Family Law Act now uses words like “guardianship,” “parental responsibilities,” “parenting time” and “contact” to emphasize a relationship of responsibility towards a child. “Guardianship” describes the responsibilities for the care and upbringing of the children. “Parental responsibilities” and “parenting time” describe the responsibilities that guardians have.
The federal Divorce Act governs divorce. It will change in 2020 but until then, it still uses the terms custody and access. Because federal and provincial laws now use different terms, it may be confusing.
LawCoachBC provides answers to general legal questions, helping parents understand their responsibilities and options. In addition, LawCoachBC provides a referral to a family law lawyer for up to one hour of free legal advice to helping parents make informed decisions about the separation.
LawCoachBC helps parents to create a draft parenting plan that promotes the best interests of the children.
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Author: Justice Education Society – The Justice Education Society (JES) is a BC-based non-profit organization whose mission is to empower people to access and deliver justice in Canada and globally. JES has been helping separating families for 20 years.