Globe and Mail

New divorce legislation coming Tuesday

Globe and Mail Update
Thursday, December 5 – Online Edition, Posted at 2:16 PM EST
The Globe and Mail

The federal government is poised to unveil a bill next week aimed at creating a gentler divorce system in Canada.

A federal source told that the bill will be tabled by Justice Minister Martin Cauchon in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

If passed, the Family Law Reform Act will likely mean the elimination of the terms "access" and "custody" contained in the current in the Divorce Act, replacing them with terms of "parenting orders" and doing away with the connotations of winning and losing custody of children and access rights to them.

"It's a fundamental recognition that the kids come first," the source told

The new bill is an attempt to prevent battles between spouses over children that can sometimes result in kidnappings or other tragedies.

"Obviously it won't solve all the problems, but it's certainly designed to make things less confrontational. It puts the emphasis on children," the source said.

Mr. Cauchon has said he wants a less adversarial divorce system and he is leaning away from existing laws on shared parenting to embrace parental responsibility.

"We want to address issues of access and custody and make it less confrontational," he said earlier this year.

However, Paul Minero, a spokesman with Fathers Are Capable Too, a father's rights advocacy group based in Toronto, said he wasn't confident that the changes would be more than minimal.

"I don't expect that there's going to be any serious, substantial changes," Mr. Minero told "It sounds like a political crowd pleaser ... they can change the wording all they want. ..."

Mr. Minero said the problem with the current system is that while one spouse is granted custody and the other granted access, the "access" stipulation for the non-custodial spouse is often not properly enforced by the courts.

He said that many studies have shown the importance of biological fathers in their children's lives.

With reports from Kim Lunman

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