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  • BC Family Innovation Lab Launches New Website and Blog

    by Kari Boyle | Sep 20, 2016
    The following blog post is a cross-post from the BC Family Justice Innovation Lab website.
    By Kari Boyle
     Coordinator, BC Family Justice Innovation Lab 


    What is the Lab?

    The Lab is not a place, an organization or a product.  It is a space.  A space for taking new approaches to family justice innovation in BC.  It is a space for diverse groups of people to work together with the support and tools they need.

    Who is working on the Lab?

    Our Core Lab Team is described here.  I have the privilege of the “Coordinator” title but we are all working as a team to keep moving forward.

    Why is the Lab important? 

    Previous family justice reforms have not resulted in the kind of transformational change that is really needed to make the system accessible and effective for BC families.  It remains too complex, too expensive and too time-consuming.  A new approach is needed.  A small group of us looked outside the justice system for inspiration and were excited to learn about “lab” approaches being used in other sectors to effect meaningful social change.  This approach is different because it is:

    • family-centred (not just in words but in action)
    • systemic
    • participatory
    • experimental
    It is focused on action rather than creating another report with recommendations for what others should do to make things better.  We have enough reports.  We will aim to experiment, including with prototyping, and to take a “learn as you go” approach while still ensuring we have robust evaluation data.

    There are many different kinds of labs.  This Lab will focus on using a combination of human-centred design approaches and system thinking (coined “systemic design”).  Human-centred design places the people who will be using the innovation at the centre of the innovation design process. It is a fast-paced, experimental process that taps into people’s innate creativity, and has four iterative steps – empathy, definition, ideation and prototyping.  System thinking acknowledges that the BC family justice system is a complex adaptive system and encourages multi-disciplinary engagement with people across the “system” defined broadly i.e. all of the pieces that families encounter while taking their journey through separation and divorce.  As M. Jerry McHale Q.C. said early in our exploration, “this is not a justice issue with some social aspects, this is a social issue with a few justice aspects”.

    We believe that the Lab will be able to pursue change in new ways that individual justice organizations cannot do by themselves.  In so doing, we aim to support and amplify their efforts to improve the BC justice system.  We are also committed to supporting and collaborating with the Access to Justice BC.

    This is a learning journey.  We don’t have everything figured out but we are confident that we can help if we start, if we engage with others, if we are open to creative ideas, and if we really try to see the system from the perspective of those we exist to serve.

    Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or if you would like to participate in the Lab in some way.  Follow us on Twitter (@BCFamInnovLab) and use the “contact us” feature on our website and we will get back to you. Thank you.
  • Asked & Answered: How do I apply for a restraining order - Peace Bonds and Family Protection Orders

    by Roman Lanzarotta | Apr 01, 2016


    Asked & Answered is a collection of answers to tricky legal research questions, written by Courthouse Libraries staff. Search Asked & Answered here.

    Go to Part 1: What is a Protection Order?

    In BC there are two types of orders that might be referred to as a Restraining Order, though they are properly called Protection Orders. A Family Protection Order is used to protect family members from “family violence” and can only be obtained against a person you share a family relation with, which can include partners and guardians. A Peace Bond is meant to protect you, your family or your property from someone who you fear means to do you harm. Peace Bonds can be obtained against anyone.

    These orders are used in circumstances in which you feel unsafe but are not in immediate danger. If you are in immediate danger you should contact the police at 911.

    A full guide on Protection Orders can be found here.

    Peace Bonds

    You can apply for a Peace Bond by contacting the police through 911 even though it is not an emergency. The officer you speak to will take a report which will be forwarded to Crown counsel and a hearing will be set if Crown counsel agrees that the matter should proceed. If Crown counsel does not agree, or the police will not forward the matter, you can apply for a Peace Bond yourself by laying an Information with a Justice of the Peace in Criminal Court. Peace Bonds expire after one year.


    Family Protection Orders

    A Family Protection Order is applied for to protect you or your family from a family member or relation.

    Family Protection Orders are usually applied for through the BC Provincial Court, though they can be applied for through the BC Supreme Court as well. They are free through provincial court and cost either $80 or $200 dollars through the Supreme Court depending on whether you already have a case before the court or not. You can apply to waive these fees if you meet certain financial criteria.

    Note that if the person against whom the order is made is not present for the court proceedings then the Ministry of Justice will assume responsibility for serving the order on them.

    To apply for either you will need to file the following forms with the appropriate registry:

    For Supreme Court

    • Affidavit (Form 30)

    • Notice of Application (Form 31)

    • Notice of Family Claim (Form F3) unless

    you’ve already filed one

    • Protection Order (Form F54)

    • Requisition (Form 17) to ask for an “order

    without notice” and/or an urgent application

    (see next section)


    For Provincial Court

    • Affidavit (PCFR Form 17)

    • Application to Obtain an Order (PCFR Form 1)

    • Notice of Motion (PCFR Form 16)


    Family Law LSS: Family Protection Orders

    Family Law LSS: The Difference Between Peace Bonds and Family Protection Orders

    BC Protection Order Registry

    VictimsInfo: Protection Orders

    For Your Protection: Peace Bonds and Family Law Protection Orders


    VictimLink BC


  • Tom Wallwork: Best practices for relocating guardians under the Family Law Act

    by Nathaniel Russell | Oct 02, 2013

    The Family Law Act says that a joint guardian of a child must give all other guardians at least 60 days' notice in writing before moving with their children. The only real exceptions to this rule are if:

    1. The other guardian(s) are likely to become abusive or violent as a result of giving notice; or
    2. The other guardian(s) don't really have a relationship with that child.

    The Family Law Act sets out some indication of what to include in this notice - that is, when the moving guardian will be relocating, and where the guardian is going with the child.

    As the Act goes, if the other guardian(s) object to the proposed move, they have 30 days from the day they receive notice to file an application to stop the move. Theoretically (more on this later in this post) if they don't object in this timeframe, the moving guardian is free to start packing.

    However, the Family Law Act is silent on how this notice is to be given. Is mailing the notice okay? Would registered mail be better? Do you need to hire a process server to hand the notice to the other guardian(s)? Particularly in matters in the Provincial Court and where a party has already filed an address for service, we're all pretty accustomed to service by mail. Is this good enough for a 60-day notice?

    Perhaps not. The judgment of Judge R.D. Morgan in the case of S.B. v. N.L., 2013 BCPC 233 clears this issue up, and offers some additional guidance on the content of these 60-day notices. Specifically, at paragraph 25:

    ...there should also be proof of delivery of the section 66 notice. That proof could, of course, be the admission of receipt by the other party. However, there will be cases, like the one at bar, where receipt of mailed notice is denied. Consequently, it would be a best practice to have the notice served personally. Also, given the high number of self represented persons in Family Court, it would also be a best practice to include in the notice a clear reference to the 30 day time limit to file an objection. In my view, the best scenario would be a requirement in the Family Law Act Rules that the notice be served in an approved form that includes specific reference to the time limit.

    I've placed the key bits of that paragraph in bold text. So, Judge R.D. Morgan mentions that not only should you be serving these notices personally, you should also be inserting a provision telling the other guardian(s) that they only have 30 days to object by filing an application to the court to block the move. This provision will hopefully make its way into a standard form in the near future, much like the stock clauses currently present in documents such as the Notice of Family Claim under the BC Supreme Court Family Rules and the standard wording for protection orders. But for now, lawyers and guardians beware - word your 60-day notices with care.

    So - what happens if the objecting guardian fails to object within 30 days? Can your client really start packing if they don't hear anything from the non-moving guardian(s)? After all, according to a strict reading of the Family Law Act, one might have assumed that the objecting guardian might be out of luck once 30 days has elapsed:

    68 If a child's guardian gives notice under section 66 [notice of relocation] that the guardian plans to relocate the child, the relocation may occur on or after the date set out in the notice unless another guardian of the child, within 30 days after receiving the notice, files an application for an order to prohibit the relocation.

    However, this is not actually the case - Judge R.D. Morgan makes it clear that, even though the wording of the Family Law Act seems to be a 'bright line', judges will probably continue to have the authority to hear late applications, provided the objecting guardian(s) can provide good reasons for their tardy filing:

    [24] To allow a full hearing of an application to prohibit relocation that was filed after the 30 day time limit, the court will consider the reasonableness of the explanation for the late filing of the objection, the length of delay in filing, and the degree to which the relocating guardian would be prejudiced by allowing the late filed application to be heard. The degree of prejudice will relate to, among other things, the date of the proposed relocation and the planning already undertaken. In the absence of a reasonable explanation, the court should require cogent and compelling evidence indicating relocation is not in the children's best interests. This should be a significant test to meet, and not simply a road bump that would nullify the intent of the legislature.

    So, in a nutshell:

    1. Best practices dictate that the 60-day notices be personally served on all other guardian(s).
    2. The opposing guardians must file their applications objecting to the move within 30 days of being served. If they don't meet that deadline, the court will consider their explanation for the delay, the length of the delay, and the harm to the moving guardian if the application is heard. In short, your anxiously packing client isn't quite out of the woods after 30 days.
    3. If the objecting guardian is late in filing and they don't have a reasonable explanation for their tardiness, they will have to meet the difficult test of providing "...clear and cogent evidence that the move is not in the child's best interests." Unless there's good evidence that the move would not benefit the child, the court will permit the move.


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