Government of New Brunswick

Consultation on family law reform of the Family Services Act related to amendments to the federal Divorce Act

The provincial government is seeking input from New Brunswickers on adopting into provincial family law key concepts recently changed in the federal Divorce Act.

The New Brunswick Family Services Act governs family relations including child protection, adult protection, spousal and child support, custody and access. This consultation is focused on key concepts found in Part VII of the Act which contain the legal rights and responsibilities of parents and spouses in New Brunswick.

The Department of Justice and Office of the Attorney General is inviting New Brunswickers to consider whether or not the provincial legislation should mirror the language and principles of the amendments to the federal Divorce Act coming into force in July 2020.  

The new amendments to the federal Divorce Act include various measures to promote the best interests of the child. The proposed amendments to the federal legislation include, among other things: elimination of custody and access terminology; introduction of provisions to deal with relocation of parties to a parenting order; the introduction of best interest of the child criteria; and, provisions to better address situations of intimate partner violence in the context of divorce, custody and access cases.

In order to help New Brunswickers share their thoughts on the matter, the Department of Justice and Office of the Attorney General has launched a discussion paper that covers key elements of the provincial legislation in regard to the federal amendments.

The consultation process only addresses Part VII of the Family Services Act and the key sections in Part One of the Act pertaining to private family law matters such as the definition of best interests of the child. It does not involve issues related to child support and child protection, adoptions and parentage which falls under the responsibility of the Department of Social Development.

The deadline for submissions is Friday, Nov. 15

To participate in the consultation process, New Brunwickers can submit a written brief or complete a questionnaire included in the discussion paper. Briefs should include contact information and not be longer than 10 pages, excluding, cover pages and appendices.

The Department can accommodate special needs for individuals facing challenges that would prevent them from preparing a brief or completing the questionnaire.

Briefs and comments may be submitted electronically by email to:  or by regular mail to:

Family Law Reform Discussion Paper
Policy and Planning Branch
Department of Justice and Office of the Attorney General
P.O. Box 6000, Fredericton NB E3B 5H1.