CLRA & Divorce Act alignment means less confusion in Ontario about the rules and people have access to same legal response regardless of marital status

Ontario recently significantly revised its family law that deals with custody and access, the Children’s Law Reform Act, to align it with the federal Divorce Act.  In this presentation, you will learn about the changes, with a focus on their impact on women fleeing abusive relationships.

This is another in the series of webinars on family law issues when there’s family violence presented by Luke’s Place in partnership with CLEO, with support from The Law Foundation of Ontario. You may also want to view our presentation on the changes to the Divorce Act.

From the presentation:

As many of you know, in 2019, the federal government passed Bill C-78, which introduced major revisions –the first in more than 20 years – to the Divorce Act. These changes are effective March 1, 2021. (See our webinar about the Divorce Act changes.)

In the fall of 2020, the Ontario government introduced and passed Bill 207, which will align Ontario’s legislation – the Children’s Law Reform Act – with the new Divorce Act. Bill 207 has received Royal Assent but no date of implementation has been announced. However, we assume it will be March 1 or another date close to that in order to minimize confusion between the two pieces of legislation.

The Children’s Law Reform Act (CLRA) is a provincial law that applies only to people living in Ontario. It deals primarily with issues relating to children: post-separation parenting arrangements and support.

The other main provincial family law In Ontario is the Family Law Act, which addresses spousal support, property division, exclusive possession of the matrimonial home and restraining orders.

Anyone whose habitual residence is in Ontario can use the CLRA to resolve these issues. “Habitual residence” means the place the family lived before the parents separated. For example, if the family lived in Ontario and one parent moved with the children to Manitoba, Ontario would – with rare exception – be their habitual residence, and Ontario laws would govern their family law issues.

Unlike the Divorce Act, which only applies to married people who are seeking a divorce, the CLRA applies to families regardless of the relationship between the children’s parents.  The parents can be married, living common-law or even have never lived together and, as long as they were habitually resident in Ontario, can use the CLRA to resolve parenting and child support issues.