KAMLOOPS — Kamloops lawyer, family law mediator and family law arbitrator David Paul has reacted favourably to proposed amendments to Canada's Divorce Act.
The amendments were announced this week by Justice Minister Jody Wilson Raybould, who said they are aimed at helping families settle disputes outside of court.
She said the amendments would establish specific factors when the courts decide what is in the best interest of a child and if passed, the new measures would also address issues surrounding parents or children who relocate after a divorce.
The proposed changes would also bring in more child-focused language, replacing terms like "custody" and "access" with less divisive words like "parenting orders" and "parenting time."
"As a mediator, I have worked with hundreds of couples over the years and I can tell you unequivocally that mediation is by far a better way for parties to try and work toward a resolution together," says Paul.
"Even judges will tell parties when they come before the courts this isn't necessarily the best place for the two of you to be resolving your conflict because at the end of the day, I'm going to make a decision that one of you or both of you may not like. With mediation, the parties make joint decisions with the assistance of a trained mediator and they form their own solution to the problem."
Paul says the end result is both parties end up having a more positive relationship going forward and more importantly, children benefit.
He adds he's a big believer that changing the wording in the Divorce Act makes a big difference.
"For me the word 'custody' is inappropriate because it denotes possession or ownership and we're not talking about ownership or possession when we're talking about a child. We're talking about our rights, our obligations and our responsibilities. So, the term 'parenting' is by far a more positive way of expressing that obligation and that right."
Under B.C.'s Family Law Act legislation he says those terms are already used.
"Couples often have a choice to use the Divorce Act as a place for them to get their custodial rights or the Family Law Act and most clients will prefer to use the language that comes out of the Family Law Act. So there's going to be some consistency now between the provincial and federal legislation and that consistency is all in a positive direction because of the language itself."
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