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Changes to Family Law Legislation

Changes to Family Law Legislation

A few months ago, the Ontario government implemented legislation amending several statutes that deal with various family law-related matters, pursuant to the Family Law Statute Amendment Act, 2009. The changes under this Act have come into effect gradually, with the latest ones – mainly affecting pensions – coming into force just a few days ago on January 1, 2012. Among other things, these changes relate to changes of name, applications for custody and access, minor amendments to vital statistics legislation, and pensions and their valuation.

While none of these are ground-breaking amendments, they do represent some important changes to substantive elements of family procedure and are therefore worth noting. Here are some of the highlights:

Family Law Act –

“Property”. Effective January 1, 2012, the definition of “property” in the Act is amended to include the following: “in the case of a spouse’s rights under a pension plan, the imputed value, for family law purposes, of the spouse’s interest in the plan … for the period beginning with the date of the marriage and ending on the valuation date.”

Excluded property.

The Act has also been clarified to indicate that unadjusted pensionable earnings under the Canada Pension Plan does not form part of a spouse’s Net Family Property.
(Note that under pending changes which are not yet in force, the definition of “Net Family Property”. under the FLA will be clarified to include:

1) “the spouse’s debts and other liabilities, including, for greater certainty, any contingent tax liabilities in respect of the property …” and

2) “the value of property, other than a matrimonial home, that the spouse owned on the date of the marriage, after deducting the spouse’s debts and other liabilities, other than debts or liabilities related directly to the acquisition or significant improvement of a matrimonial home, calculated as of the date of the marriage”).

Children’s Law Reform Act –

Change of name. The Act provides for any interested person to apply to the court for a declaration that they are the father or mother of a particular child (as the case may be). A new addition to the legislation allows the same person to apply for a court order to have the child’s name changed at the same time, to any surname that the child could have been given at birth.

Police and Children’s Aid Society record checks. The Act allows for a parent or any other person to apply to a court for custody of or access to a child. Several new requirements have been added:

1) if a parent is making the application, then he or she must file the results of a recent police record check with the court.

2) If the application is being made by a non-parent, then he or she must submit a request to the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) to determine whether they hold any records relating to the applicant, and a copy of the request must be filed with the court. (The CAS must provide the requested information to the court within 30 days, unless the time is extended by the court).

3) Also, if the application is being made by a non-parent, the court clerk must provide the court with information as to whether there are any current or previous family proceedings involving the child or the person making the application.

For the full text of the amended legislation, see:

Family Law Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. F.3  http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/statutes/english/elaws_statutes_90f03_e.htm

Children’s Law Reform Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. C.12  http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/statutes/english/elaws_statutes_90c12_e.

At Russell Alexander, Family Lawyers our focus is exclusively family law, offering pre-separation legal advice and assisting clients with family related issues including: custody and access, separation agreements, child and spousal support, division of family property, paternity disputes, and enforcement of court orders. For more information, visit us at www.RussellAlexander.com