Messages from Justice Canada
- Justice Canada has developed a family violence identification and response tool. The draft tool will be circulated in the coming weeks for feedback from the law societies. Further details may be found below; and
- Bill C-78, which amends federal family law legislation, will be coming into force March 2021 (delayed from July 2020 due to the pandemic). Justice Canada has prepared related online training tools and resources on these amendments. Further details may be found below.
Justice Canada – Family Law Projects
As you know, the Department of Justice Canada is leading a research project to develop and test a bilingual, evidence- and user-based tool for family law legal advisers with practical suggestions on how to identify and respond to family violence in a way that is safe for the client. Over 700 legal advisers from across Canada responded to the survey, and the results informed the design of the draft tool in important ways. Please see the attached project description for more details about the tool development process and the tool itself.
For the user-experience testing, family law legal advisers from across Canada will be invited to participate in finalizing the tool by using it in their family law practice for a period of 8 weeks. They will provide feedback on their experiences to help understand whether the tool is clear and comprehensive and meets the needs of legal advisers when put into practice.
The tool will be tested with a diverse group of legal advisers with different characteristics (e.g., gender, Francophone/Anglophone/Multilingual, rural/urban, private practice/legal aid, experience in dealing with family violence in practice, years of practice). It is also hoped to tap into legal practices where the clients are diverse (e.g., high income/low income, ethnocultural minorities, Indigenous peoples, newcomers). In addition, they are looking at testing the tool with Francophone legal advisers not only in Quebec, but also in other provinces and territories.
For the review, organizations that work directly with persons who have experienced family violence and been involved in the family justice system (e.g., Rise Women’s Legal Centre in British Columbia, Sagesse in Alberta) will be invited.
Any feedback that Law Societies may have on the tool is appreciated, with the draft tool being circulated in the coming weeks.
If you have any questions, please contact the Project Lead, Cherami Wichmann, at Cherami.Wichmann@justice.gc.ca.
Online Training Courses and PLEI Resources Concerning the Amendments to Federal Family Law Legislation
The Department of Justice Canada has been developing online training courses, professional training materials and Public Legal Education and Information (PLEI) resources concerning the recent amendments to federal family law legislation. The majority of the Divorce Act amendments will come into force on March 1, 2021.
Online Training Courses
The Department of Justice Canada is developing a series of online courses about the recent amendments to federal family laws. Law Society accreditation information will be provided for each course.
1. The first course Introduction to Federal Family Law Amendments is now available. You can find this course on the Department of Justice Canada’s website at: https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/fl-df/cfl-mdf/trai-form/story.html.
The Department of Justice Canada’s website will be updated with the following additional courses as soon as they become available:
2. Family violence and family law for legal advisers (coming soon)
This course is aimed at helping legal advisers work effectively with clients who have experienced family violence. It is designed to: provide information about family violence and family law; explain changes to the Divorce Act relating to family violence; and examine the impacts of family violence and related trauma on both adults and children, issues relating to disclosure of family violence in the family law context, the impacts of family violence on the best interests of the child and parenting arrangements, and the use of family dispute resolution and court proceedings in cases of family violence.
3. Relocation under the Divorce Act (coming soon)
This course is designed to increase legal advisers’ knowledge and understanding of the new change of residence and relocation framework in the Divorce Act. It focuses on the procedures people must follow in relation to moves and the principles a court will apply in making a decision about a child’s relocation.
4. Inter-jurisdictional support proceedings under the Divorce Act (coming soon)
This course is about the changes to the interjurisdictional support provisions in the Divorce Act. It is designed to assist in understanding the new process for interprovincial and international support cases. It explains the different steps to obtain or vary a support order when former spouses live in two different jurisdictions. It also provides Information on the circumstances and the different steps to have a foreign support order recognized under the Divorce Act.
5. Duties for Parties to a Proceeding and Legal Advisors under the New Divorce Act (coming soon)
This course is designed to increase knowledge and understanding about the changes to the Divorce Act which create new duties for parties to proceedings under the Act and expand the existing duties for legal advisors, including encouraging the use of family dispute resolution processes and use of family justice services. It also describes family justice services that may be available to families who are experiencing separation or divorce.
6. Parenting under the new Divorce Act (coming soon)
This course is about the changes to the parenting provisions in the Divorce Act. It is designed to assist in understanding: the new terminology; the list of best interests of the child factors; parenting orders and contact orders; parenting plans; the duties of parents and legal advisers; the impact of family violence on parenting; and the new enforcement tools related to parenting
The Divorce Act Changes Explained (available) – This technical guide provides information about the changes to the Divorce Act that were made pursuant to legislation the Government of Canada passed in June 2019. Each entry details the amendment to the legislation, explains the change, and provides the reason for it.
The following Public Legal Education and Information (PLEI) resources provide information about the Divorce Act amendments. Materials are available on the family law pages of Justice Canada’s website at: https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/fl-df/index.html:
Fact Sheets – Fact sheets are available on a number of topics related to the Divorce Act amendments. These resources are available in a format that can be printed. Topics include:
- Parenting arrangements after separation or divorce
- Duties for Parents and others
- A Child’s Views and Preferences
- Divorce and Family Violence
- Family dispute resolution: resolving family law issues out of court
- Relocation (coming soon)
Parenting Plan Checklist (available but being updated) – This is a checklist that helps parents identify some of the issues and questions they need to consider when developing a parenting plan.
Parenting Plan Tool (available but being updated) – This interactive tool provides parents with options to develop a personalized parenting plan (a written document that outlines how parents will raise their children after separation or divorce).
What Happens Next (available but being updated) – This booklet is designed to help children learn some basic facts about family law and give them an idea of the processes that parents may go through when they separate. It aims to help children realize that it’s normal for them to have an emotional response to their parents’ divorce, and encourages children to voice their concerns to someone they trust. Parents can read the booklet with their younger children, while older children can read it themselves.
Making Plans (available but being updated) – This guide for parents contains helpful information about parenting after separation and divorce when deciding on the best parenting arrangement for their children. The guide provides information for parents who are making parenting arrangements under the Divorce Act, and can also be useful to parents who are separating even if the Divorce Act does not apply.
Step by Step (available but being updated) – This technical guide provides 8 easy steps to help determine child support pursuant to the Federal Child Support Guidelines (Divorce Act regulations). It will be updated to reflect changes to federal family laws.
Family law pages updates
The family law pages of the Department of Justice website are being updated continuously with new materials, so we would encourage you refer to them on a regular basis. Please see: https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/fl-df/index.html
If you have any questions about the content of these notices, please contact Claire Farid at Justice Canada:
Claire Farid (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Director and General Counsel
Family and Children’s Law Team, Policy Sector
Department of Justice, Government of Canada