Sweeping changes to divorce law in Canada and what it means for Canadian parents and children

Amendments to the Divorce Act geared toward putting the needs of the child first.

Communications and Public Relations
March 01, 2021

Significant changes to Canada’s Divorce Act are coming into force March 1.

These new laws are designed to promote children’s best interests, reduce family violence, help reduce poverty, and make the justice system more accessible and efficient.

Legal Aid Alberta has family law experts who are available to speak to different aspects of these important changes, which include:

  • Specific best-interest factors to protect a child’s safety and well-being, including the child’s views and preferences and cultural heritage.
  • Consideration, for the first time, of family violence and what constitutes family violence — even touching on coercion as violence.
  • New regulations on moving with a child.
  • Parenting time, parenting plans and contact by non-custodial spouse.

What Legal Aid Alberta lawyers are saying about these changes

“It really puts a focus on the child as the centre of everything. Their needs are more important than mom’s needs, dad’s needs, and the grandparent’s needs.”
Andrea Doyle, senior advisory counsel on family and immigration law, Legal Aid Alberta

“For the first time, the Divorce Act mentions family violence and coercive control, and includes the definition of family member. This is significant because it is something that family violence advocates have been fighting for. The court must now consider violence involving the people who are in the child’s family or in a family-like relationship with the child.”
Jessica Chapman, staff family lawyer, Legal Aid Alberta

“Overall, the changes take a more pragmatic and practical view of relocation, giving the courts the ability to look at all factors and a more holistic picture for the child. It’s not simply about why the move is happening or the distance, but the impact of it on the child.”
Tahira Karim, staff family lawyer, Legal Aid Alberta

Media contact
Richard Cairney

Senior Communications Officer
Legal Aid Alberta
[email protected] 

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LAA provides legal services to clients in support of fairness in Alberta’s justice system – services that help ensure Albertans in all circumstances can understand and defend their legal rights.

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