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Family Law Act

On November 14, 2011, BC's Attorney General introduced Bill 16, a bill that proposed fundamental changes family law in BC. On March 18, 2013, the Family Law Act, SBC 2011, c. 25, replaced the Family Relations Act that was first passed in 1978. 

This page was created to answer some common questions.   

Where can I get a quick overview of the changes? 

One of our guest bloggers, JP Boyd, posted to our Stream blog, in November 2011, on the sweeping changes.

If you are interested in reading about these in greater detail, JP Boyd posted a more extensive review on his blog or you may wish to read the Ministry of Justice's webpage dedicated to these changes. 

Is it in force?

Yes. The majority of the act was brought into force on March 18, 2013 by BC Reg. 131/2012

The Family Law Act received Royal Assent on November 24, 2011.  The commencement provisions, listed by section, can be found in section 482. You will see from this section that the legislature intended for most of the sections to come into force by regulation of the Lieutenant Governor in Council.

There were a few notable exceptions.  The following sections were in effect November 24, 2011 (upon Royal Assent):

section 258, which repeals sections 90 [obligation to support parent] and 120.1 [property agreements] of the Family Relations Act; and

• all sections of the consequential amendments that change spousal terminology to replace legally outdated terms with gender-neutral terms, e.g., “husband”, “wife” replaced with “spouse”.

For a summary of the provisions that were in force on that date, please see JP Boyd's blog on Family Law Act Receives Royal Assent and blog on the Early and Unlamented Deaths of ss. 90 and 120.1.

Are there any regulations?

Yes.  There are two, the Family Law Act Regulation (BC Reg #347/2012) and the Division of Pensions Regulation (BC Reg #348/2012).  They were deposited on November 26, 2012 and came into effect on March 18, 2013 along with the new Family Law Act.

These regulations:

  1. set minimum training and practice standards for family dispute resolution professionals (family mediators, parenting coordinators and family arbitrators), and; 
  2. replace the regulations made under the Family Relations Act with respect to the Child Support Guidelines Regulation and the Child Support Recalculation Pilot Project Regulation and pension division.

Are there any new Family Practice Directions?

Chief Justice Bauman has issued one new Supreme Court Civil Practice Direction and four new Supreme Court Family Practice Directions as a result of the coming into force of the Family Law Act.
  • PD-42 replaces PD-34, and it authorizes masters to issue a number of interim orders provided for under the Family Law Act.
  • FPD-9 replaces FPD-5
  • FPD-10 replaces FPD-7
  • FPD-11 replaces FPD-8
  • FPD-12 replaces FPD-4

An updated Table of Concordance for the practice directions can be found on the courts website.

All of the new practice directions come into force on March 18, 2013.
Can I see a history of Bill 16's progress?

You can see how the bill proceeded through the legislature by using the table on this Progress of Bills page (just scroll to Bill 16) on the Legislative Assembly of BC website.

If you want a closer look, you can look at the Votes and Proceedings page for day-by-day breakdowns of legislative activity. 

What about the transition between the old Act and the new one? 

The Act contains transitional provisions in Part 13 that deal with matters already before the courts such as existing restraining orders and payment of pension.

The Ministry of Justice has published a Table of Concordance that lists which Family Relations Act provisions have been carried forward, in all or in part, into the Family Law Act.

Do you have the BC Law Institute reports that were incorporated in the new Act? 

We do! You can read them online or at many of our courthouse libraries:

Where can I read more background? 

BC Law Institute, 2013. Questions and Answers About Pension Division on the Breakdown of a Relationship in British Columbia.

Clicklaw Wiki. JP Boyd on Family Law, 2013.

Justice Review Task Force, Family Justice Reform Working Group, 2005 report, A New Justice System for Children and Families

Ministry of Attorney General, Justice Services Branch, Civil and Family Law Policy Office, 2006, Chapter 1 ~ Background and Context for the Family Relations Act Review.

Ministry of Attorney General, Justice Services Branch, Civil and Family Law Policy Office, 2007, Discussion Papers, released in three phases.

Ministry of Attorney General, Justice Services Branch, Civil and Family Law Policy Office, 2009, Family Relations Act Review: Report of Public Consultations.   

Ministry of the Attorney General,  Justice Services Branch, Civil and Family Law Policy Office, 2010, White Paper on Family Relations Act Reform: Proposals for a new Family Law Act.

Can you let me know about any changes?  

We can! You can subscribe to our Family Law RSS feed and receive Family Law news by email or in your RSS reader.


posted October 29, 2012

updated April 19, 2016


Check out How a Bill Becomes Law in BC

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