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Liberal government introduces measures to update Canada's family laws

A man walks on Parliament Hill on September 15, 2014. A federal grant for parents of murdered and abducted children may be inadvertently missing out on providing financial help to those "more vulnerable economically," a newly released report says. The federal evaluation made public today cautions against drawing any hard conclusions from the numbers, given how few parents have applied for, and received the grant since it launched in January 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

The federal government has introduced new legislation that aims to help families settle disputes outside court, emphasize the well-being of impacted children and better enforce child support.

Justice officials say there have not been substantial updates to federal family laws in 20 years.

The legislation proposes “child-focused” language, which means replacing terms like “custody” and “access” — terms that have been known to fuel conflict between parents — with “parenting orders” and “parenting time.”

The proposed new measures would also address issues surrounding parents or children who relocate after a divorce and would, under some circumstances, allow authorities to use tax information to enforce child support payments.

Once passed, Bill C-78 would also require courts to take family violence and a number of other factors into account when deciding parenting arrangements.

The proposed legislation would make changes to the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act, and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act.