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This Act is current to November 1, 2017
See the Tables of Legislative Changes for this Act’s legislative history, including any changes not in force.

Family Law Act

[SBC 2011] CHAPTER 25

Part 2 — Resolution of Family Law Disputes

Division 1 — Resolution Out of Court Preferred

Purposes of Part

4  The purposes of this Part are as follows:

(a) to ensure that parties to a family law dispute are informed of the various methods available to resolve the dispute;

(b) to encourage parties to a family law dispute to resolve the dispute through agreements and appropriate family dispute resolution before making an application to a court;

(c) to encourage parents and guardians to

(i) resolve conflict other than through court intervention, and

(ii) create parenting arrangements and arrangements respecting contact with a child that is in the best interests of the child.

Duty to disclose

5  (1) A party to a family law dispute must provide to the other party full and true information for the purposes of resolving a family law dispute.

(2) A person must not use information obtained under this section except as necessary to resolve a family law dispute.

Agreements respecting family law disputes generally

6  (1) Subject to this Act, 2 or more persons may make an agreement

(a) to resolve a family law dispute, or

(b) respecting

(i) a matter that may be the subject of a family law dispute in the future,

(ii) the means of resolving a family law dispute or a matter that may be the subject of a family law dispute in the future, including the type of family dispute resolution to be used, or

(iii) the implementation of an agreement or order.

(2) A single agreement may be made respecting one or more matters.

(3) Subject to this Act, an agreement respecting a family law dispute is binding on the parties.

(4) Subsection (3) applies whether or not

(a) there is consideration,

(b) the agreement has been made with the involvement of a family dispute resolution professional, or

(c) the agreement is filed with a court.

(5) A child who is a parent or spouse may enter into and be bound by an agreement, including an agreement respecting the division of property or debt.

Replacing agreements

7  If an agreement changes a previous agreement,

(a) each part of the previous agreement that is changed is deemed to have been revoked, and

(b) the remainder of the previous agreement, if any, remains effective.

Duties of family dispute resolution professionals

8  (1) A family dispute resolution professional consulted by a party to a family law dispute must assess, in accordance with the regulations, whether family violence may be present, and if it appears to the family dispute resolution professional that family violence is present, the extent to which the family violence may adversely affect

(a) the safety of the party or a family member of that party, and

(b) the ability of the party to negotiate a fair agreement.

(2) Having regard to the assessment made under subsection (1), a family dispute resolution professional consulted by a party to a family law dispute must

(a) discuss with the party the advisability of using various types of family dispute resolution to resolve the matter, and

(b) inform the party of the facilities and other resources, known to the family dispute resolution professional, that may be available to assist in resolving the dispute.

(3) A family dispute resolution professional consulted by a party to a family law dispute must advise the party that agreements and orders respecting the following matters must be made in the best interests of the child only:

(a) guardianship;

(b) parenting arrangements;

(c) contact with a child.

Duties of parties respecting family dispute resolution

9  The parties to a family law dispute must comply with any requirements set out in the regulations respecting mandatory family dispute resolution or prescribed procedures.

Division 2 — Family Justice Counsellors

Family justice counsellors

10  (1) Subject to the regulations, the minister by order may appoint as family justice counsellors persons employed under the Public Service Act.

(2) A family justice counsellor may provide the following assistance to a person:

(a) information respecting a family law dispute;

(b) family dispute resolution, including respecting

(i) guardianship,

(ii) parenting arrangements,

(iii) contact with a child, and

(iv) child and spousal support;

(c) referrals to other service providers or agencies.

(3) A family justice counsellor may assist the court under section 211 [orders respecting reports].

Confidentiality of information

11  (1) Except in accordance with the regulations,

(a) a family justice counsellor must not disclose information obtained in the course of providing assistance under section 10 (2) [family justice counsellors], and

(b) a person within a prescribed class of persons must not disclose information obtained from, or in the course of assisting, a family justice counsellor.

(2) With respect to personal information, this section applies despite the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, other than section 44 (1) (b), (2), (2.1) and (3) of that Act.

Family justice counsellors not to be compelled

12  (1) Except as permitted under the regulations, the following persons must not be compelled to disclose, or to testify in any proceeding respecting, information obtained in the course of providing assistance under section 10 (2) [family justice counsellors]:

(a) a family justice counsellor;

(b) a person within a class of persons prescribed for the purposes of section 11 (1) (b) [confidentiality of information].

(2) For greater certainty, subsection (1) applies to the notes and records of the persons referred to in that subsection.

Information obtained while receiving assistance

13  (1) Subject to subsection (2) of this section, information obtained by a party during

(a) mediation, or

(b) negotiation or settlement discussions

under section 10 (2) (b) [family justice counsellors] is confidential and must not be used by the party in a proceeding respecting a family law dispute.

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply

(a) if the other party consents to the use of the information,

(b) to information, including a report, that is provided by a person who is not a party to the family law dispute, regardless of whether the information

(i) was obtained at the expense of either or both parties,

(ii) contains expert advice or opinions, or

(iii) was provided solely for the purposes of receiving assistance under section 10 (2) (b),

(c) in any circumstance under which the information is compellable by law, or

(d) to a written agreement between the parties

(i) to mediate, or

(ii) that resolves one or more issues relating to a family law dispute.

Division 3 — Parenting Coordinators

Parenting coordinators

14  A person meeting the requirements set out in the regulations may be a parenting coordinator.

When parenting coordinators may assist

15  (1) In this Division, "parenting coordination agreement or order" means a written agreement or an order to use a parenting coordinator.

(2) A parenting coordinator may assist only

(a) if there is a parenting coordination agreement or order in place, and

(b) for the purpose of implementing an agreement or order respecting parenting arrangements, contact with a child or other prescribed matters.

(3) A parenting coordination agreement or order may be made at the same time as, or after, an agreement or order respecting parenting arrangements, contact with a child or other prescribed matters is made.

(4) A parenting coordinator's authority to act ends 2 years after the parenting coordination agreement or order is made, unless the parenting coordination agreement or order specifies that the parenting coordinator's authority is to end on an earlier date or on the occurrence of an earlier event.

(5) Despite subsection (4), a parenting coordination agreement or order may be extended by a further parenting coordination agreement or order, but each extension may be for no more than 2 years.

(6) Despite subsection (4), a parenting coordination agreement or order may be terminated at any time as follows:

(a) in the case of an agreement, by agreement of the parties or by an order made on application by either of the parties;

(b) in the case of an order, by an order made on application by either of the parties;

(c) in any case, by the parenting coordinator, on giving notice to the parties and, if the parenting coordinator is acting under an order, to the court.

Information sharing for parenting coordination

16  A party must, for the purposes of facilitating parenting coordination, provide the parenting coordinator with

(a) information requested by the parenting coordinator, and

(b) authorization to request and receive information, respecting a child or a party, from a person who is not a party.

Assistance from parenting coordinators

17  A parenting coordinator may assist the parties in the following manner:

(a) by building consensus between the parties, including by

(i) creating guidelines respecting how an agreement or order will be implemented,

(ii) creating guidelines respecting communication between the parties,

(iii) identifying, and creating strategies for resolving, conflicts between the parties, and

(iv) providing information respecting resources available to the parties for the purposes of improving communication or parenting skills;

(b) by making determinations respecting the matters prescribed for the purposes of section 18 [determinations by parenting coordinators].

Determinations by parenting coordinators

18  (1) A parenting coordinator

(a) may make determinations respecting prescribed matters only, subject to any limits or conditions set out in the regulations,

(b) must not make a determination respecting any matter excluded by the parenting coordination agreement or order, even if the matter is a prescribed matter, and

(c) must not make a determination that would affect the division or possession of property, or the division of family debt.

(2) In making a determination respecting parenting arrangements or contact with a child, a parenting coordinator must consider the best interests of the child only, as set out in section 37 [best interests of child].

(3) A parenting coordinator may make a determination at any time.

(4) A parenting coordinator may make an oral determination, but must put the determination into writing and sign it as soon as practicable after the oral determination is made.

(5) Subject to section 19 [changing or setting aside determinations], a determination

(a) is binding on the parties, effective on the date the determination is made or on a later date specified by the parenting coordinator, and

(b) if filed in the court, is enforceable under this Act as if it were an order of the court.

Changing or setting aside determinations

19  (1) On application by a party to a determination made by a parenting coordinator, the court may change or set aside the determination if satisfied that the parenting coordinator

(a) acted outside his or her authority, or

(b) made an error of law or of mixed law and fact.

(2) If the court sets aside a determination, the court may make any order that the court may make under this Act to resolve a dispute between the parties in relation to the subject matter of the determination.

(3) If the court does not set aside a determination, the court may make any order that the court may make under this Act to enforce compliance with the determination.

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