The Divorce Act Changes Explained

Best interests of the child

Child's needs
(Section 16(3)(a), Divorce Act)

New section

(a) the child’s needs, given the child’s age and stage of development, such as the child’s need for stability;

Old section


What is the change

The court must consider the child’s specific individual needs to determine the best interests of the child.

Reason for the change

To determine best interests, the court must consider the unique needs and circumstances of the child. For example, age, level of maturity and temperament can all influence a child’s ability to cope with change and their need for a particular parenting style. Special needs, such as those related to a physical disability, are also important to consider.

A child’s needs change over time, and a child’s stage of development is a major factor in determining their reaction to any situation. For example, infants generally need a great deal more predictability in terms of schedules and routines than adolescents do. Courts will consider these types of developmental issues.


March 1, 2021.