Ensuring that the family justice system can effectively respond to the needs of families during divorce or separation is critical. That is why the Government of Canada took action by changing Canada’s federal family laws to promote the best interests of the child, address family violence, help reduce child poverty, and make the family justice system more accessible and efficient.
Today, March 1, 2021, the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, announced that Divorce Act amendments have come into force. Although some technical amendments came into force upon Royal Assent on June 21, 2019, most of the Divorce Act amendments come into force today. These mark the first substantive changes to federal family laws in more than 20 years.
The Government of Canada recognizes how important the changes to the Divorce Act are to Canadians affected by separation and divorce, especially vulnerable family members. These changes were highly anticipated by family law professionals, provincial and territorial partners and Canadians affected by separation and divorce. The Government of Canada worked hard with its partners to implement the legislative changes and prepare tools, training and resources for individuals and family law professionals. As a result, these very important amendments come into force today.
“The changes that we have made to modernize the Divorce Act have been a long time coming and I am proud that they are coming into force today. We understand how important the changes to the Divorce Act are to Canadians affected by separation and divorce, especially to vulnerable family members. Faced with the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, we worked hard with our partners to implement these changes, which address family violence and promote the best interests of the child.”
The Honourable David Lametti, P.C., Q.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
On June 21, 2019, the Government of Canada welcomed the Royal Assent of former Bill C-78, which modernized and strengthened federal family laws, following its careful review by Parliament.
Bill C-78 amended three federal family laws: the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act. Most of the amendments to the Divorce Act come into force on March 1, 2021, while changes to federal support enforcement laws that did not come into force on Royal Assent or in December 2020 will progressively come into force at different times over the next two years.
While the amendments were originally supposed to come into force on July 1, 2020, due to the circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic, provinces and territories and the federal government needed enough time to complete necessary steps to ensure effective implementation, such as changes to regulations, legislation, forms, and court rules.