FREDERICTON (GNB) – New legislation introduced today by the provincial government is intended to ensure clarity and consistency with changes to federal divorce legislation and create a new recalculation service to help avoid court appearances.

The intent of the new Family Law Act is to ensure clarity and consistency with the language found in recent changes to the federal Divorce Act.

“Families encounter the family law system in some of life's most difficult moments,” said Justice and Public Safety Minister Hugh J. Flemming. “Family law is a shared responsibility between the federal and provincial governments and we are taking advantage of the changes introduced in Bill C-78 to improve our family law process and to provide more support to those who are going through these difficult situations. We are also using this opportunity to introduce an administrative service dedicated to the recalculation of child support orders.”

The new legislation replaces terminology of custody and access with the concepts of parenting time, decision-making responsibility and the terms parenting order and contact order.

It will introduce requirements specific to the relocation of children and for legal advisors to advise clients about using non-court options for dispute resolution.

The best interests of the child criteria have been updated and now include specific considerations around family violence and First Nations families.

While not tied to the federal changes, the legislation includes the establishment of a provincial service to allow for the recalculation of child support orders to reflect updated income.

“As it stands today, parties must go to court to have an order adjusted to reflect changes in income, which represents a significant cost to those involved as well as an unnecessary burden on court resources,” said Flemming. “Establishing this service will simplify the process by making it easier for people to make these important adjustments when a parent’s income changes.”

Establishing the recalculation service requires more work before it is finalized but it will be available once the new act comes into force.