British Columbia's New Family Law on Guardianship, Relocation, and Family Violence: The First Year of Judicial Interpretation

Faculty Author Type

Emeritus Faculty [Susan B. Boyd]

Published In

Canadian Family Law Quarterly

Document Type


Publication Date



The Family Law Act; family law; custody; family violence


This article reviews the jurisprudence that emerged during the first year of the new family law statute in British Columbia, Canada. The Family Law Act came into force in March 2013 and represented a major overhaul of family law in that province. The goal was to reflect social change, to place children first, and to keep families safe. The language of "custody" and "access" was changed to "parental responsibilities" and "parenting time". The best interests of the child test was defined in more detail. As well, family violence was dealt with explicitly, and norms on relocation were introduced, with burdens of proof depending on the extent to which parenting is shared. Despite the promising language in the statute, the first year of case law indicates some concerns about the early interpretation of the legislation in the courts. The article is co-authored with Matt Ledger.