A Focus on Family Violence – Bill C-78

  • February 24, 2020
  • Katherine Batycky, counsel, Stoner & Company Family Law Associates

Two of the key objectives of the amendments to the Divorce Act in Bill C-78,[1] as outlined in the preamble to the Bill, are to establish a non-exhaustive list of criteria with respect to the best interests of the child and to assist the courts in addressing family violence.

By providing a detailed definition of family violence, by stating that the best interests of the child must come first and by mandating that the impact of family violence on a child must be taken into account when deciding what is in the child’s best interest, the Canadian government has required all of us to give the safety and security of children paramount consideration. There are, moreover, provisions in the amendments that also require us to consider the effect of family violence on a party and the children when determining issues arising out of separation, and provide the court with argument when certain procedures, such as the requirement to provide notice of a relocation, should be modified or dispensed with altogether because of a risk of family violence.