On March 18, 2013, the new Family Law Act came into effect in BC. As a result, many legal concepts and definitions have been updated or changed. Over the next few months, I will be writing about different aspects of the new Family Law Act as well as providing you with legal resources. This information should not be interpreted as providing legal advice. I will be providing legal information only and I strongly recommend that anyone involved in a family dispute get independent legal advice. If you would like a list of lawyers to choose from, please email me and I will be happy to provide this.
In the Family Law Act (FLA), there are some changes regarding the definition of guardianship. According to the Legal Services Society, the FLA defines a guardian as the person who has the right to make decisions about a child, such as where the child will live or go to school; medical and dental care; and what religion the child will be raised in. (p. 4, Guide to the BC Family Law Act, http://resources.lss.bc.ca/pdfs/pubs/Guide-to-the-New-BC-Family-Law-Act-eng.pdf)
You can find a more detailed description of guardianship and legal options available for parents at http://wiki.clicklaw.bc.ca/index.php/Guardianship,_Parenting_Arrangements_and_Contact.
In mediation, this is significant because the FLA states in Section 39 (1), “While a child’s parents are living together and after the child’s parents separate, each parent of the child is the child’s guardian.” Parents can then use mediation to negotiate how parenting responsibilities will be divided between the guardians. These responsibilities are listed in Section 49.
As a family mediator and dispute resolution professional, I can assist parents to negotiate how they share parenting responsibilities between them.