Making Progress: Family Law and B.C. Courts
Families Monday, December 26, 2011 1:00 PM

B.C. helps to alleviate court pressures

VICTORIA - Bold new family law legislation, court initiatives and training new sheriffs to keep B.C. courtrooms safe are among measures British Columbia has taken this year to reform the justice system.

These are just a few examples of significant progress made by government in the last year to improve the lives of British Columbians and their families by creating and protecting jobs, by becoming more open and transparent, and by continuing to be fiscally responsible in these uncertain economic times.

To support B.C. families, government passed the Family Law Act this fall, moving British Columbia to the forefront of family law reform in Canada. This landmark legislation puts the interests of children first and provides tools for couples to resolve issues out of court when relationships break down. Encouraging mediation and other approaches for resolving legal disputes are tools that also help reduce demand on the courts.

The Province is continuing to boost the complement of staff in B.C.'s courts. Thirty-four new deputy sheriffs who graduated in November are now working at courthouses across B.C. to protect the safety of court users. A new class of recruits is scheduled to start at the Justice Institute of BC in January. In addition, the Centre for Court Administration will open at the Justice Institute of BC in early 2012 to train court administration staff.

Quick Facts:

The B.C. government has:

  • Clarified parental responsibilities through a new Family Law Act. The act addresses family violence, improves fairness in property division rules and encourages couples to settle disputes out of court. Families requiring assistance with family law matters are supported through 24 Family Justice Centres around B.C. and Justice Access Centres in Nanaimo and Vancouver.
  • Introduced legislation in the fall session to accommodate and provide flexibility for the use of senior part-time judges to meet urgent and unforeseen circumstances, such as additional sittings due to illness or injury to full-time judges.
  • Appointed 14 new judges in communities throughout the province over the past two years.
  • B.C. has 460 sheriffs working in 45 courthouses and 44 circuit courts.
  • Invested $3.4 million (as of Nov. 30, 2011) in the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry. Hearings are underway. The final report is due to government by June 30, 2012.

Learn More:

New Family Law Act:

Justice Institute of B.C. Sheriff Academy:

Read about the new Centre for Court Administration:


Dave Townsend
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Attorney General
250 387-4962
250 889-5945 (cell)

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