People often think that when you deal with one area of law, there are only one or two pieces of legislation that pertain to that area. That, however, is not the case. There are many different pieces of legislation that govern many different areas of law. In family law, there are many statutes and rules that are referred to, used, and relied upon by family lawyers and family courts. Below is an overview of several of the key statutes and rules that may come into play in your family law dispute, depending on the circumstances. The different pieces of family law legislation are related and often used together.

Divorce Act

The Constitution of Canada gives the federal government the exclusive jurisdiction to regulate the law of marriage and divorce. That means that the law surrounding marriage and divorce is federally regulated, and the same across all provinces and territories.

The federal Divorce Act is the governing piece of legislation for divorce in Canada and applies everywhere in the country. It deals with divorce, child support, spousal support, and custody and access in divorce cases. Although provinces and territories have their own Child Support Guidelines, the federal Child Support Tables are the overriding guideline. The provinces and territories adjust their guidelines to match that of the federal government. This Act also outlines the methodology for determining spousal support. A married person may apply for spousal support under the Divorce Act or the Family Law Act.

Family Law Act

The Family Law Act is an Ontario statute, which means it applies in Ontario only. It deals with a wide range of family law matters, including many disputes stemming from separation or divorce.  In particular, it deals with child support and spousal support (in conjunction with the Divorce Act), the division of property, and the matrimonial home. Each province and territory has their own version of a Family Law Act. This Act also deals with other marital issues, including domestic contracts (such as cohabitation agreements, separation agreements, paternity agreements) and restraining orders.

Children’s Law Reform Act

This piece of legislation deals with custody and access to children. It also deals with the rules to establish the parentage of a child. What this means is that when there is a question as to who the parents of the children may be, whether it is due to people having multiple partners, or assisted reproduction, this Act defines how to determine who the parents of a child are. It deals with matters of surrogacy as well, which has become an issue in the United States.

Child and Family Services Act

This Act outlines the powers and responsibilities of Children’s Aid Societies. Children’s Aid Societies were a feature of a past blog post, but essentially these Societies have the responsibilities of protecting children who may be experiencing abuse or are at risk of experiencing abuse. These societies help families stay together, and work with families to protect children who may be at risk. However, sometimes they must step in and remove children from dangerous or unsafe environments. This Act tells the Societies what they can and cannot do, what they must do, and how to do it.

Family Responsibility and Support Arrears Enforcement Act, 1996

This Act is not often talked about, but it deals with how the Family Responsibility Office (FRO) collects child support and spousal support payments. It outlines the powers and responsibilities of this office. This office helps families in Ontario get the support payments they are entitled to by enforcing court-ordered support payments. If someone has been ordered to make support payments and fails to do so, this Office has the authority to take enforcement action to recover the money that is owed.

Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act, 2002

This Act allows the FRO to enforce child support and spousal support payments for parties who live outside of Ontario. The FRO has enforcement agreements with all of the Canadian provinces and territories, as well as every state in the United States of America, and 31 countries. This makes it easier for families who are spread across the country, or even the world, meet their obligations.

Family Law Rules

These rules outline the procedures and what is required when dealing with family law matters. Even if your case does not go to a trial, you will still be dealing with the courts regularly. These rules do not just pertain to how to navigate court. It outlines what documents are required, how service of documents is supposed to be done, who are the parties, how to start a case, amending your application, and so on.

There are rules for different types of law as well. There are the Rules of Civil Procedure for when you want to pursue a civil matter, there are Criminal Proceeding Rules for the Superior Court of Justice in Ontario. Legal matters have a particular timeline and way of doing things, and that is why these rules are necessary.

Legal representation makes dealing with legal matters much easier. If you do not know which laws apply to your matter, you may be putting yourself at a severe disadvantage. While these pieces of family law legislation are the most frequently used and referred to, there are others that may be of use to you. The experienced team of family lawyers at Borden Family Law can help clients deal with often confusing and difficult family law matters. Our focused area of practice means our clients benefit from our in-depth knowledge of the ins and outs of the family law system, the technical legal rules governing family law matters, and trial strategy. We serve clients in Oshawa, Brooklin, and the surrounding areas. To see how we can help you resolve your issue, call us at 905.576.6090 or contact us below. Ask us about flat fees.