Bill 207 Aims to Simplify Family Law System

Ontario has introduced new legislation designed to help simplify Ontario’s current family law system.

Released on September 24, Bill 207[1], the Moving Ontario Family Law Forward Act, 2020 (“the Act”) will purportedly “make it easier, faster and more affordable for individuals and families to resolve family legal matters,” according to a government press release. Bill 207 comes in the wake of the federal government’s 2019 changes to Canada’s Divorce Act, which are to come into effect on March 1, 2021. If passed, Bill 207 will make it easier for parents to access similar legislation in resolving parenting issues after separation[2].

Stated Goals of Bill 207, the Moving Ontario Family Law Forward Act, 2000

If passed, the Act will modernize language, simplify appeal routes, and improve the existing online child support service. Speaking generally, the Act proposes three primary changes:

  1. Make the family law appeals process clearer and easier to navigate by:
    • clarifying when and how to appeal family law cases,
    • helping families reach final decisions faster in difficult cases, and
    • making the appeals process more consistent no matter where in the province a trial[3] is heard.
  2. Align Ontario’s family laws with recent changes to the federal Divorce Act, including modernizing language around the terms “custody and access[4]”, so they are consistent, clear and streamlined.
  3. Allow parents and caregivers to obtain certified copies of child support[5] notices from the online child support service so support amounts can be more easily managed or enforced outside the province.

These proposed changes follow consultations between the province and various family law stakeholders including parents, children, child protection advocates, family lawyers, arbitrators[6] and mediators[7].

“Families encounter the family law system in some of life’s most difficult moments, and the changes we are proposing will make the process easier to navigate and understand for parents and their children,” said Ontario Attorney General Doug Downey.

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