05/22/2018 15:45 EDT | Updated 05/22/2018 16:23 EDT

Bill C-78: Liberals Propose 1st Major Update To Canada's Family Laws In 20 Years

The legislation would encourage parties to use family dispute mediation services.

Adrian Wyld/CP
Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould waits to appear before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Oct. 18, 2017.

OTTAWA — The federal government is introducing new family-law legislation aimed at helping families settle disputes outside court, improve child-support enforcement and preserve the well-being of impacted children.

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould says the proposed measures — the first major update to Canada's family laws in 20 years — would give courts the option of accessing more information about the income levels of parents.

Wilson-Raybould says that in some cases, Bill C-78 would permit an application to the Canada Revenue Agency when determining the appropriate amount for settlements both in and out of court, and when seeking to enforce child support payments.

She says the proposed bill would encourage parties to use mechanisms other than the court system, such as family dispute resolution and mediation services.

It also proposes more "child-focused" language, which means replacing terms like "custody" and "access" — terms that have been known to fuel conflict between parents — with "parenting orders" and "parenting time."

Once passed, the legislation would also require courts to take family violence and a number of other factors into account when deciding parenting arrangements.

The proposed legislation would make changes to the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act, and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act.