Family Law Legislation

Legislation consists of laws, statutes, or acts made by governments. Legislation creates rights and powers. Legislation may also impose duties and attach consequences. Legislation gives a judge the authority to make orders. Judges interpret and apply the legislation, or law, when they decide cases.

Legislation often gives authority for the government to create regulations, which then become part of the law. Regulations govern proceedings and further define the law.

The following are some of the acts or laws that are in effect in Nova Scotia to address family law matters. We recommend that you always get legal advice when trying to determine which laws apply to you.

If you are married, these are some of the laws and regulations that may apply to you:

  • Divorce Act: Use this act if you want a divorce, or are already divorced. You can ask the court to make an order relating to decision-making responsibility, parenting time, child support, and spousal support. You can also use this act to ask the court to change a divorce order relating to decision-making responsibility, parenting time or support. Refer also to the regulations under the act.

  • Federal Child Support Guidelines: These regulations apply under the Divorce Act when you want a divorce or are already divorced. They set out the rules used to calculate how much child support people will have to pay.

  • Parenting and Support Act: This Act is used if you do not want a divorce but are asking for an order relating to decision-making responsibility, parenting time, contact time, interaction, child support, spousal support, or the exclusive occupation of a residence. You can also use this act to ask the court to change an order about decision-making responsibility, parenting arrangements, contact time, interaction or support if you are not yet divorced and if you have not started a divorce. Refer also to the regulations under the Act.

  • Child Support Guidelines: These regulations apply under the Parenting and Support Act when you do not want a divorce or have not been married, but are asking the court for an order relating to child support. The Child Support Guidelines set out the rules used to calculate how much child support people will have to pay.

  • Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act: If your spouse lives outside of Nova Scotia, you may use this act if you are not applying for a divorce, and are asking for an order relating to support.  Parts of this law can apply to parties who were divorced in Canada under the Divorce Act and who want to deal with support through the interjurisdictional support order process.

  • Matrimonial Property Act: Use this act if you want an order relating to property, including exclusive possession of the matrimonial home and pensions.

The following is a guideline only as to what laws in Nova Scotia may apply to your situation. We recommend that you always get legal advice when trying to determine which laws apply to you.

If you have a registered domestic partnership, all provincial legislation that applies to a married couple also applies to you. These are some of the laws and regulations that may apply to you:

  • Parenting and Support Act: This Act is used if you do not want a divorce but are asking for an order relating to decision-making responsibility, parenting time, contact time, interaction, child support, spousal support, or the exclusive occupation of a residence. You can also use this act to ask the court to change an order about decision-making responsibility, parenting arrangements, contact time, interaction or support if you are not yet divorced and if you have not started a divorce. Refer also to the regulations under the Act.

  • Child Support Guidelines: These regulations apply under the Parenting and Support Act when you are asking the court for an order relating to child support. The Child Support Guidelines set out the rules used to calculate how much child support people will have to pay.

  • Matrimonial Property Act: Use this act if you want an order relating to property, including exclusive possession of the matrimonial home and pensions.

  • Division of Pensions: There are a number of different pension acts that can be used to divide pensions and may apply to your case:

The following is a guideline only as to what laws in Nova Scotia may apply to your situation. We recommend that you always get legal advice when trying to determine which laws apply to you.

These are some of the laws and regulations that may apply to you:

Parenting and Support Act: This Act is used if you are asking for an order relating to decision-making responsibility, parenting time, contact time, interaction, or child support. You can also use this act to ask the court to change an order about decision-making responsibility, parenting arrangements, contact time, interaction or support. Refer also to the regulations under the Act.

As of September 1, 2014, grandparents no longer need to ask for leave of the court before making an application for contact time or interaction with a grandchild. Grandparents must still ask for leave when applying for decision-making responsibility of a grandchild. Refer also to the regulations under the act (for example, the Child Support Guidelines).

Child Support Guidelines: These regulations apply under the Parenting and Support Act when you are asking the court for an order relating to child support. The Child Support Guidelines set out the rules used to calculate how much child support people will have to pay.

Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act: If the other party lives outside of Nova Scotia, use this act if you are asking for an order relating to support.

The following is a guideline only as to what laws in Nova Scotia may apply to your situation. We recommend that you always get legal advice when trying to determine which laws apply to you.

If you are in a common law relationship, these are some of the laws and regulations that may apply to you:

  • Parenting and Support Act: This Act is used if you are asking for an order relating to decision-making responsibility, parenting time, contact time, interaction, child support, spousal support, or the exclusive occupation of a residence. You can also use this act to ask the court to change an order about decision-making responsibility, parenting arrangements, contact time, interaction or support. Refer also to the regulations under the Act.

  • Child Support Guidelines: These regulations apply under the Parenting and Support Act when you are asking the court for an order relating to child support. The Child Support Guidelines set out the rules used to calculate how much child support people will have to pay.

  • Division of Property: This does not refer to a specific act, but rather the court's power to order a division of property based on common law principles. You should speak with a lawyer for advice.

The following is a guideline only as to what laws in Nova Scotia may apply to your situation. We recommend that you always get legal advice when trying to determine which laws apply to you.

If you are unmarried and not in a common law relationship, these are some of the laws and regulations that may apply to you:

Parenting and Support Act: Use this act if you are asking for an order relating to decision-making responsibility, parenting time, contact time, interaction, child support, or a paternity finding. Paternity means being a child's biological father. Refer also to the regulations under this act (for example, the Child Support Guidelines).

Child Support Guidelines: These regulations apply under the Parenting and Support Act when you are asking the court for an order relating to child support. The Child Support Guidelines set out the rules used to calculate how much child support people will have to pay.

Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act: If the other person lives outside of Nova Scotia, you may use this act if you are asking for an order relating to support.

The following are some of the acts or laws that are used in Nova Scotia. For more information about the laws that might apply to you, you should speak with a lawyer.

  • Divorce Act: This federal act applies when you want a divorce, or are already divorced. It is used to ask the court to make an order relating to decision-making responsibility, parenting time, child support, or spousal support. You can also use this act to ask the court to change an order relating to decision-making responsibility, parenting time, or support.
  • Federal Child Support Guidelines: These regulations apply under the Divorce Act when you want a divorce or are already divorced. They set out the rules used to calculate how much child support people will have to pay.
  • Pension Benefits Division Act [and Regulations]: and Related Federal Pension Legislation: This act applies when a plan member's federally regulated pension is to be divided between that member and their spouse or common law partner. Under this act, ‘common law partners’ refers to couples - including same sex couples - who have lived together at least one year.
  • Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act: This act, called ‘ISO’ or 'NS ISO' for short, applies if one party lives in Nova Scotia and is seeking support from the other party who lives in a reciprocating jurisdiction (which includes all Canadian provinces and territories). Parts of this law can apply to parties who were divorced in Canada under the Divorce Act and who want to deal with support through the interjurisdictional support order process.
  • Parenting and Support Act: This Act is used if you do not want a divorce but are asking for an order relating to decision-making responsibility, parenting time, contact time, interaction, child support, spousal support, or the exclusive occupation of a residence. You can also use this act to ask the court to change an order about decision-making responsibility, parenting arrangements, contact time, interaction or support if you are not yet divorced and if you have not started a divorce. Refer also to the regulations under the Act.
  • Child Support Guidelines: These regulations apply under the Parenting and Support Act when you do not want a divorce or have not been married, but are asking the court for an order relating to child support. The Child Support Guidelines set out the rules used to calculate how much child support people will have to pay.
  • Matrimonial Property Act: If you are married or are in a registered domestic partnership, you can use this act to ask for an order relating to property, including exclusive possession of the matrimonial home. You do not have to apply for a divorce to use this act.
  • Pension Benefits Act [and Regulations] and Related Provincial Pension Legislation: This act applies when a plan member's provincially regulated pension is to be divided between that member and their spouse, registered domestic partner, or common law partner. Under this act, ‘common law partners’ refers to couples - including same sex couples - who have lived together at least two years.