Legislative Background: An Act to amend the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act (Bill C-78 in the 42nd Parliament)

Introduction

Family law touches more Canadians than any other area of law. Statistics Canada’s most recent data indicated that in 2011 about five million Canadians had separated or divorced in the last 20 years, with over two million children living in divorced or separated families. The Government of Canada is committed to supporting families going through separation and divorce.

On May 22, 2018, the government introduced Bill C-78 to strengthen the Canadian family justice system. The legislation makes changes to the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act (FOAEAA), and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act (GAPDA) and align federal family laws with two international family law Conventions. The bill received Royal Assent on June 21, 2019. However, these changes do not apply until the new law comes into force. While most of the amendments to the Divorce Act were to come into force on July 1, 2020, due to extraordinary circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada deferred the coming into force date of changes to the Divorce Act to March 1, 2021. Changes to federal support enforcement laws will come into force at different times over the next two to three years.

This version of the Legislative Background is an updated version of the original document that was tabled in Parliament on September 26, 2018Footnote 1 and posted on the Justice Canada website. It identifies key changes made to Bill C-78 through the parliamentary process.

This legislation makes federal family laws more responsive to families’ needs. Its four key objectives are:

  • Promoting children’s best interests
  • Addressing family violence
  • Helping to reduce poverty
  • Making Canada’s family justice system more accessible and efficient

The changes to family laws are a key milestone in the government’s ongoing efforts to support Canadian children and families going through separation and divorce.Footnote 2 A strengthened family justice system will help increase access to family justice, facilitate the resolution of disputes and improve outcomes for children and families.

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