Family law in Canada has seen a number of recent advancements and developments, including changes to divorce laws and updates to court infrastructure.
One significant change is the implementation of Bill C-78, which came into effect in March 2021. This bill seeks to modernize the Divorce Act, which had not been updated since 1985. The changes include a focus on the best interests of the child, promoting family dispute resolution, and addressing family violence. The bill also updates terminology to be more inclusive and gender-neutral, and provides guidance on how to deal with child relocation issues.
In addition to legislative changes, there have been updates to court infrastructure. In September 2021, the new Toronto courthouse opened, which includes family court facilities. The courthouse features modern technology and facilities, such as video conferencing and remote hearing capabilities, which are aimed at making the court process more efficient and accessible for families.
Another development in family law is the increased use of alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation and collaborative law. These methods aim to reduce the need for lengthy court proceedings and allow families to reach agreements outside of the courtroom. Many law firms now offer specialized services in these areas, recognizing the benefits they offer to clients.
There have also been updates to laws surrounding surrogacy and assisted reproduction. In 2019, the federal government passed legislation allowing for the reimbursement of surrogacy-related expenses. This was a significant change, as previously surrogacy was not legal in Canada, and those who pursued it could face criminal charges. The new legislation also provides guidance on parentage and custody issues related to surrogacy and assisted reproduction.
However, despite these advancements, there are still challenges facing families in Canada. One major issue is the lack of affordable legal services, which can make it difficult for families to access legal representation in family law matters. This can result in unequal access to justice and can disproportionately affect low-income families.
Another issue is the backlog of cases in family courts, which can lead to delays in resolving legal disputes and can cause additional stress and anxiety for families. Efforts are being made to address this issue, such as the use of technology to streamline court processes and the hiring of additional court staff.
Overall, family law in Canada is seeing progress and development, with changes to legislation, updates to court infrastructure, and increased use of alternative dispute resolution methods. However, there are still challenges to be addressed, such as the lack of affordable legal services and the backlog of cases in family courts. As families continue to face unique legal challenges, it is important for the legal system to continue to evolve and adapt to meet their needs.