Mary E. Mouat of the Quadra Legal Centre in Victoria, British Columbia, has some commentary in The Times Colonist on the new Family Law Act in British Columbia:
Until Monday, common-law spouses had no property rights under B.C. family law. Now, like married people, they have a choice.
Mouat explains how the new legislation creates a different regime of excluded property to reflect changing family structures, and focuses on value flowing from pre-acquired property, gifts and inheritances and instead of the assets themselves.
She also describes how the focus of family law litigation will increasingly be mediation and out of court settlements:
…one of the underlying fundamental purposes of the new Family Law Act is to give families options beyond the courtroom.
The changes in family law in the 1970s saw family cases exploding into the courtroom. As more and more cases were litigated, the limits of that process for families became glaringly obvious. The adversarial system for determining truth between strangers was never designed to deal with the intricacies of a shared-parenting plan.
The unique demands of family law led to the development and expansion of mediation and more recently, collaborative law, which are designed to provide the participants control and support.
Litigation should now be seen as the alternative process, as it is not necessarily the first or best option for families.
One of the other important changes of the Act is that does not assume a separation agreement is in the best interests of the children, and will consider the physical, psychological and emotional safety, security and well-being of the children.