The New Supreme Court Family Law Rules

On July 1, 2010, the new British Columbia Supreme Court Family Law Rules (the “Family Law Rules”) come into effect. It is the first time where a family law proceeding is governed by its own complete code – that is to say these rules are restricted to family law procedures exclusively.

The Family Law Rules coincide with the Supreme Court Civil Rules which come into force on July 1st as well and will mark a substantial procedural change for civil claims brought in the Supreme Court of British Columbia..

The Family Law Rules came out of a long consultation period and reflect a significant amount of feedback from many parties. The Family Law Rules are specifically catered to attend to the specific needs and requirements of family law issues. These issues are often highly nuanced and emotionally charged and thus require different approaches than general civil claims.

Specifically, Rule 1-3 outlines the objects of the Family Law Rules as follows:

(1)    The object of the Supreme Court Family Rules is to

a. help parties resolve the legal issues in a family law case and in a way that will

i.     Take into account the impact that the conduct of a family law case may have on a child; and

ii.    Minimize conflict and promote cooperation between the parties, and

b.    secure the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every family law case on its merits

Although newly included in the Family Law Rules, these goals enshrine objectives that the court has focused on for some time.

Nonetheless, having these objectives clearly stated will remind all involved of the true focus of a family law claim which, in my mind, is assisting the parties to settle their affairs fairly and amicably.

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