On March 18, 2013, British Columbia enacted a new provincial legislation, the Family Law Act (FLA), which governs family law. The Family Law Act replaced the Family Relations Act. British Columbia is also subject to the federal law of Canada, the Divorce Act.

There are two levels of court in which family matters may be heard, the Provincial Court of British Columbia, or the Supreme Court of British Columbia. Determining which level of court and which legislation is applicable to your matter depends on the individual circumstances of your case.

One change brought about by the Family Law Act was encouraging parties with family disputes to utilize out-of-court options, such as mediation before bringing their matters to court. The court system should be a secondary step if the out-of-court options are unsuccessful. The new law actually gives equal emphasis to agreements made out of court as they do to court orders.

The Family Law Act places the best interests of children and their safety as the only consideration in a family law matter when issues of guardianship, parenting arrangements and contact with a child are to be decided.