Legislative amendments passed by the House of Assembly to improve support for children and put their interests first when their families break up will come into effect on May 26th, 2017.
Amendments to the Maintenance and Custody Act, which has been renamed the Parenting and Support Act, include modernized family laws and updated court rules and forms.
“We have modernized this act to be more helpful to families when they come to court to make decisions in the best interest of their children, often under very difficult circumstances,” said Justice Minister Diana Whalen.
The legislation, which was passed in December 2015, updates language and terminology around custody and parenting arrangements, introduces new terms to describe how parents interact and spend time with their children and establishes the use of a parenting plan to help parents clarify their responsibilities.
The amendments will also introduce specific guidelines that families must follow when a parent or guardian wishes to move away with their children.
Key amendments include:
- replacing the terms "access" and "visiting privileges" with "parenting time", "contact time" and "interaction"
- establishing a framework for a parenting plan that outlines each parent's responsibilities and the living arrangements for the child to encourage planning and reduce confusion
- new guidelines that require parents who are moving outside the province to give advance notice and establish, depending on the parenting arrangements, whether or not the relocation will benefit the child
- a clear list of actions that can be taken for those who fail to comply with orders for parenting or contact time, or interaction with the child.
Several regulation changes are also being updated as a result of the amendments. They are housekeeping measures to make the language and terminology consistent.
Updates to the NS Family Law website are being prepared and will be made as quickly as possible following the introduction of the Parenting and Support Act.