POLITICS

Changes coming in Manitoba to child support laws and issues around custody

06/03/2015 09:06 EDT | Updated 06/03/2016 05:59 EDT
WINNIPEG - The Manitoba government has proposed a sweeping rewrite of Manitoba's laws governing enforcement of child and spousal support, parentage, child custody and access.

Attorney General Gord Mackintosh said the changes would include new tools to collect support from parents following separation or divorce.

The government would post online the names and photos of dead-beat parents with outstanding arrest warrants and increase the maximum penalty for late payments to $5,000 from $500.

They would also run the risk of not being able to get an enhanced identification card for going to the United States, as well as hunting and fishing licences.

The changes would also provide greater recognition of those who take on the role of a parent by allowing grandparents, step-parents or others to apply for custody.

There would also be new rules around parents relocating; about surrogacy and posthumous conception; and about recognizing children can have more than two legal parents.

"The best interests of a child must always be the most important and often the only consideration in the area of family law," said Mackintosh.

"Despite a 205 per cent increase in the number of paying parents in full compliance with their child support orders over the past 15 years, 40 per cent continue to default to some extent on their financial obligations to their children. These changes would improve financial stability and the quality of life for the children of separated or divorced parents."

He also said the new rules would recognize evolving social structures of families, "particularly with advances in reproductive technologies. These legislative changes would benefit all families including blended families, those with fertility issues and LGBT families."

Mackintosh noted the new law would ensure that domestic violence concerns are taken into account in family law cases by enabling the court to waive the requirement for a notice to be issued in relocation cases when necessary to prevent exposure by one partner or spouse to domestic violence or stalking by another.

The new law would also allow a person to seek a court order preventing their spouse or partner from going to their residence, workplace or other location to prevent inappropriate conduct that legally falls short of domestic violence or stalking.