Anybody who’s ever seen a divorce go down knows it’s ugly and it’s even uglier when children are involved.
That’s why the federal government is looking to change things by amending three family laws to help children of parents who are divorcing.
According to the government the bill’s four main objectives are to promote the best interests of the child, address family violence, help reduce child poverty, and make Canada’s family justice system more accessible.
Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, introduced legislation on May 22 amending three federal family laws: the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act.
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This is the first substantial update of Canada’s federal family laws in 20 years.
“Separation and divorce impact the lives of millions of Canadians and can be challenging for families, especially for children. That is why this bill focuses on putting the best interests of the child first, reducing conflict, addressing family violence, and encouraging parents and former spouses to meet their family support obligations,” said Wilson-Raybould.
“Together, this bill and our proposal to expand unified family courts announced in Budget 2018 demonstrate our commitment to strengthening the family justice system and making it more accessible and efficient for families in Canada.”
According to the Census, in 2016 over 2 million children were living in separated or divorced families.
Five million Canadians separated or divorced between 1991 and 2011. Of those, about 38% had a child together at the time of their separation or divorce.
In 2016, 1.16 million children of separated or divorced parents were living with only one of their parents. Another 1.02 million children were living in step families.
Single-parent families, especially those led by the mother, are more likely to live in poverty compared to two-parent families.
Studies have identified child support as a key factor in lifting families out of poverty following a separation or divorce, according to the department of justice.