The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Bill No. 131

Maintenance and Custody Act (amended) *

An Act to Amend Chapter 160 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Maintenance and Custody Act *

Introduced by:
Honourable Diana C. Whalen
Minister of Justice

First Reading
Second Reading Debates
Second Reading Passed
Law Amendments Committee
    Meeting Date(s) November 30, 2015; December 2, 2015
    Reported to the House
Committee of the Whole House
Third Reading Debates
Third Reading
Royal Assent
Commencement May 26, 2017
2015 Statutes, Chapter 44

Explanatory Note

Clauses 1 and 2 change the long and short titles of the Act.

Clause 3

(a) adds definitions of “contact time”, “custody”, “interaction”, “parenting plan” and “parenting time”;

(b) amends the definitions of “application”, “court”, “dependent child”, “dependent parent”, “Guidelines”, “judge”, “parent” and “spouse”;

(c) corrects the title references to the courts and to the rules of court;

(d) repeals definitions that are no longer necessary; and

(e) amends definitions to make them gender-neutral.

Clauses 4, 5 and 6

(a) remove references to common-law partners;

(b) change the term “maintenance” to “support”; and

(c) amend a clause to make it gender-neutral.

Clause 7 repeals and replaces a Section to clarify the obligation of a supported spouse to assume responsibility for that person’s own support.

Clause 8 repeals two subsections dealing with reduction or forfeiture of support.

Clause 9

(a) adds a definition of “family residence”; and

(b) sets out circumstances to be considered by the court in making an order regarding the use of the family residence.

Clause 10 provides that it is the legal duty of a parent or guardian of a dependent child to provide for the reasonable needs of that child except where there is lawful excuse not to do so.

Clause 11 changes the term “maintenance” to “support”.

Clause 12

(a) requires child support to be paid in accordance with the prescribed Child Support Guidelines;

(b) removes references to “spouses” and “common-law partners” and substitutes “parents or guardians”; and

(c) changes the term “maintenance” to “support”.

Clause 13

(a) removes reference to “single” woman; and

(b) changes the term “maintenance” to “support”.

Clause 14

(a) corrects the title of an Act; and

(b) changes the term “maintenance” to “support”.

Clause 15 repeals the time limitation of two years for making a support application for a child of unmarried parents.

Clauses 16 and 17

(a) change the term “maintenance” to “support”; and

(b) amend provisions to make them gender-neutral.

Clause 18

(a) describes a parenting plan; and

(b) identifies the areas relating to a child’s care, supervision and development that may be included in a parenting plan.

Clause 19

(a) clarifies and expands the powers of the court to include orders respecting a parenting plan, parenting time, contact time and interaction between a child and the child’s parents, guardians, grandparents or another person;

(b) corrects the title of the court;

(c) incorporates the modernized terms “parenting arrangements”, “parenting time” and “contact time”; and

(d) provides that a registered agreement or order may grant custody of child to one or more persons.

Clause 20

(a) sets out the parent’s or guardian’s obligations during parenting time;

(b) sets out the obligations of a person exercising contact time;

(c) sets out notification provisions when a change of residence is planned by a parent, guardian or person who has contact time with the child;

(d) adds definitions of “person planning to relocate” and “relocation”;

(e) sets out notification requirements when there is a planned relocation of a child, a parent, a guardian or a person who has contact time with the child;

(f) permits a court to waive the notification requirements;

(g) allows the relocation of a child to occur when all notification requirements have been complied with; and

(h) sets out the elements for the court’s consideration on the hearing of a relocation proceeding.

Clause 21

(a) includes parenting arrangements, parenting time, contact time and interaction arrangements within the authority of the court;

(b) expands the list of circumstances when the court has the authority to request written reports be prepared; and

(c) provides that requests for written reports are made to the Minister of Justice.

Clause 22 allows the bringing of a child before the court and the making of an order, on application, relating to parenting arrangements, parenting time, contact time and interaction arrangements in addition to a custody application.

Clause 23 corrects the title references to the rules of court.

Clause 24 repeals a Section that is no longer required.

Clause 25 updates language regarding support applications by

(a) changing the term “maintenance” to “support”;

(b) amends a provision to make it gender-neutral; and

(c) correcting the title of an Act.

Clause 26

(a) changes the term “maintenance” to “support”; and

(b) replaces references to a single woman.

Clause 27 repeals an outdated Section requiring the possible father of a child to enter into a bond.

Clause 28

(a) permits the court to order blood, genetic or other testing of a child and the mother and possible father of a child; and

(b) permits a conclusion to be drawn regarding the identity of a child’s father when testing of the child or of the mother is refused by the mother.

Clause 29

(a) corrects the title of an Act; and

(b) amends a Section to make it gender-neutral.

Clause 30

(a) changes the term “maintenance” to “support”;

(b) removes references to common-law partners;

(c) uses the updated term “financial statement” instead of “statement of income and expenses”; and

(d) expands the authority of the court to conduct a support hearing regardless whether or not documents have been filed with the court.

Clause 31

(a) changes the term “maintenance” to “support”; and

(b) corrects the title references for the rules of court.

Clause 32 provides that the court is not bound by the terms of any agreement in determining a proceeding under this Act.

Clauses 33 to 37

(a) change the term “maintenance” to “support”;

(b) correct the title references to the courts;

(c) repeal a provision that is no longer necessary;

(d) change the word “respecting” to “for”;

(e) change the term “access” to “parenting arrangements, parenting time or contact time”;

(f) allow the court to include in a variation order any provision that could have been included in the original order;

(g) change the term “family benefits” to “assistance”;

(h) clarify that the assistance may be provided by or paid by the Province; and

(i) correct the title of an Act.

Clause 38 allows the court, on its own motion, to hold a hearing and to review a previous court order to determine the adequacy of the support amount when support is being paid to a person in receipt of social assistance.

Clause 39

(a) authorizes a person to make an application when parenting time, contact time or interaction has been denied;

(b) sets out the procedure for making the application referred to in paragraph (a);

(c) sets out the circumstances to be considered and the types of orders a court may make in determining a denial application;

(d) deems a wrongful denial of or a failure to exercise parenting or contact time to be a material change of circumstances for the purpose of a variation order;

(e) authorizes a person to make an application when another person has failed to exercise parenting or contact time;

(f) sets out the procedure for making the application referred to in paragraph (e);

(g) sets out the types of orders a court may make in determining a failure application;

(h) authorizes an application preventing the removal of a child from Nova Scotia or a place in Nova Scotia;

(i) sets out the procedure for making the application referred to in paragraph (h); and

(j) sets out the types of orders a court may make in determining a removal application.

Clauses 40 and 41

(a) change the outdated phrase “alimony or maintenance or to care and custody or access and visiting privileges”;

(b) provide for the registration of spousal and child support orders at the Family Court; and

(c) correct title references to the courts and to the rules of court.

Clause 42 provides for the registration of agreements with the court.

Clause 43 authorizes the court to make an order in a frivolous or vexatious proceeding.

Clause 44 provides transitional provisions.

Clauses 45 to 54 make consequential amendments.

Clause 55 provides that this Act comes into force on proclamation.