Today, the family law legislation in British Columbia drastically changed. The Family Relations Act is replaced by the new Family Law Act (FLA). For women leaving or planning to leave abusive relationships, understanding their legal rights and limitations are often crucial considerations in the safety and financial planning involved for themselves and their children. As such, the changes that the FLA will bring to BC Family Law and its implications for women in abusive relationships have been a serious topic for discussion amongst advocates, lawyers, and other members of the community, since the first murmurs of its proposal were put forth in The White Paper of 2010.

We are very pleased to share our Family Law Act Guide-The New Family Law Act and its Implication for Battered Women by Annie Zhang, which was released on January 24, 2013. We recognized that there are already many excellent informational resources about the FLA that provide plain-language overviews of the changes in our legislation. As such, this guide is not intended to replace the wonderful work already completed by legal professionals, or to provide a comprehensive summary of legislative changes. Rather, this guide intends to focus specifically on sections of the FLA that we believe will have the most significant impact on our work at Battered Women’s Support Services, where we provide legal information, support and advocacy with an anti-oppressive analysis and understanding of the unique issues, concerns, and barriers experienced by battered women in the legal system.

As part of our commitment to eradicate violence against girls and women we are continually working on law reform and supporting women in our community through our publications. We were also part of the consultation for ‘Family Law Act Plain Language Guide’ that provides basic information on the new Family Law Act for women who are leaving or thinking about leaving an abusive relationship. It has information on what the law considers “family violence” and what impact it may have on family law issues; court orders to help protect you and your children from violence; what will happen with your children after separation (including guardianship, responsibilities for children, time with children, and moving with children); what dispute resolution is and what different types of dispute resolution professionals do; and where you can get more help, information, and legal advice. Please find our announcement and resources on Family Law Act here.

We are very happy to connect with other advocates and offer our assistance and collaboration on the issue of violence against girls and women and the justice system responses to a spectrum of gendered violence, including sexual violence.