4.11.3 Reforming the Divorce Act

Many Canadian couples experience a marriage or partnership breakdown. For those who enter the world of court-resolved divorce and child care disputes, years of unhappiness can follow.

The family court system has become dysfunctional: Children are at risk of being isolated from one parent as well as grandparents; legal costs often consume accumulated assets of separating family units; and legal aid is often not available for many family issues – arguably the most fundamental liberty interest of all. Resolution of this issue is made additionally and unfairly complicated by having responsibility split among provincial and federal jurisdictions for various aspects of divorce.

The very social fabric of Canada and its future is being systematically eroded by a broken and unnecessarily intrusive system that has multigenerational consequences.

The Green Party envisions a society where family break-downs avoid the suffering of children, grandparents, and parents and which does not clog the courts. We will work to re-balance the current family law system, making it less adversarial, and place the on-going maintenance of healthy relationships, wherever possible, at the heart of the system.

The Green Party affirms the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The dissolution of family units should be handled in an economic and expeditious manner with maximum responsibility placed on separating parties with minimum reliance on adversarial legal processes. The role of the state is to facilitate the process. The paramount principle is ‘the best interests of the child.’

To avoid children being treated like the spoils of war, the Greens believe the Divorce Act must be overhauled. The British Columbia family law provisions are a sound model. We will launch a consultation with Canadians, with the legal community, family therapists, and other experts to seek ways to reduce, and preferably eliminate, the adversarial nature of family law.