Legislation Would Continue Strategy to Reduce Conflict and Prioritize Best Interest of Children: Goertzen

The Manitoba government is introducing new legislation that would make Manitoba’s family law system place a greater focus on the best interests of children and better align with federal legislation, Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen announced today, noting this proposed legislation is an important next step to implementing the Family Law Modernization Strategy.

“When spouses or partners make the difficult decision to separate, their focus should be on how to best support their children and family members through what can be a very hard time,” said Goertzen. “The Family Law Modernization Strategy has been successful in improving access to services, simplifying the processes for those involved and encouraging resolution outside of court where possible. This is the next step in that strategy.”

The Family Maintenance Act would be replaced with two new acts that would define and clarify the rights and responsibilities of family members regarding issues related to family dissolution. The acts would enhance the enforcement of support obligations as well as amend a third act to enable greater use of technology to improve procedures and enforcement in inter-jurisdictional child and spousal support cases.

The minister noted new legislation would harmonize Manitoba law with recent changes to the federal Divorce Act to the greatest extent possible, which would minimize confusion for families. Less adversarial terminology would emphasize parental responsibilities, parenting time and decision-making responsibility, and new provisions would provide clear guidance to parents in cases involving relocation of children. In addition, new provisions would help parents, judges and others make safe and appropriate arrangements when there has been family violence.

Proposed legislation would improve access to justice by modernizing aspects of family law, including the rights and responsibilities of family members in cases of separation, while continuing to emphasize the best interests of the children, the minister noted.

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