With the Family Law Act, the provincial government is hoping to deliver a change in tone when it comes to the children of couples going their separate ways.
Gone are the terms "custody" and "access" that were part of the legislation the Act replaces. Now, it's "guardianship," "parental responsibilities" and "parenting time" in an effort to make the issue less adversarial.
The change in wording caught Gillian Calder's eye.
"When the new system is about 'guardians' and about establishing 'parenting time' and 'parenting responsibilities,' it is very neutral in that respect," said the University of Victoria law professor. "Whereas 'custody' and 'access' had much more possessive property almost language."
Justice Minister Shirley Bond emphasized the Act's child-first aspect.
"Most importantly, the new family law is centered on the best interests of the child, making sure the childrens well-being and safety are given the utmost priority when families split up, Bond said.
Under the old Family Relations Act, the child's best interest was the "paramount" consideration and has now been upgraded to the "only" consideration, which Calder said is a big change.
"The best interest of the child test is much more fulsome now," Calder said. "There are more aspects included now."
Notably, the child's views and whether family violence has had an impact are now written into the legislation as opposed to being determined more by the judges on a case-by-case basis.
As a result, Calder predicted violence witnessed by children, in addition to violence against them, will gain greater weight .
"When we're thinking about children's safety, it's also their psychological and emotional safety that's being considered, not just their physical safety, and those are factors that the legislators are directing decision makers to take into consideration," Calder said.
The Family Law Act came into force on Monday.