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Changes to Family Law Act as of May 11, 2023

The British Columbia Family Law Act underwent some significant changes on March 27, 2023, with new amendments aimed at shedding light on longstanding areas of contention during marital separation.

These proposed alterations to the Family Law Act encompassing the presumption of advancement, presumption of resulting trust (section 81.1), excluded property (section 85 and 96), and pet custody (section 97), were officially accepted as law with Royal Assent, as of May 11, 2023.

The British Columbia Attorney General declared these potential changes and they will influence separating families in BC as follows:

  1. Alterations to Excluded Property, according to Section 85 and 96: Aims to bring clarity to the ongoing disputes surrounding excluded property during a separation.

  2. Modifications to Pet Custody, under Sections 3.1, 92 and 97: Attempts to provide a solution to the issue of pet and companion animal custody amongst separating or divorcing couples.

  3. Revisions to Rules of Evidence, under Section 81 and 81.1: Seeks to alleviate concerns regarding which rules of evidence a judge may contemplate when deciding ownership during a family disagreement.

While the changes to sections 81.1, 85, and 96 are already in effect, section 81.1 is not applicable to "pre-existing proceedings" and sections 85 and 96 continue to be relevant to a "pre-existing proceeding". This refers to:

  1. Any property division proceeding under the Family Law Act initiated before the amendments received Royal Assent.

  2. Any proceeding under the Family Law Act to annul or replace an agreement concerning property division, made prior to the May 11, 2023 date when the amendments received Royal Assent.

The changes concerning pets on companian animals (section 97) are to be implemented through regulation. Further details are available in Bill 17 and can be found here:

If you have any questions, feel free to reach a SiLaw Group Family Lawyer by booking a free consultation by clicking HERE.

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