What are Family Justice Counsellors?
Throughout the province, there are Family Justice Centres with FJCs that provide services on-site. Services provided are free of charge and confidential to parents and other family members.
How can FJCs help?
FJCs help parents deal with issues of guardianship, parental responsibilities, parenting time and contact, child support and spousal support. FJCs can help parents to calculate child support payments, using the Child Support Guidelines, as well as spousal support payments, using the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines.
FJCs do not deal with issues about family assets, debts and property matters but they can direct you to services and resources that may assist you in these areas.
FJCs are impartial third parties. That means that they do not take the side of either parent, nor do they make decisions for the family. FJCs help parents focus on what is best for the children and assist parents to make decisions that best meet the family’s needs.
FJCs provide a range of dispute resolution alternatives and information services so that parents can work out informal or formal agreements. They can also help parents to make changes to existing separation agreements – including child support agreements.
FJCs provide information on family law – including the BC Family Law Act and the federal Divorce Act. In addition, FJCs can help parents understand court processes, should there be a need to move forward with a case in court.
FJCs provide emotional support and short-term counseling. They also provide referrals to community services including professionals such as a child support officer or a family maintenance outreach worker.
What Happens When I Meet an FJC?
To set up a meeting, go to Clicklaw.bc.ca and use the map to locate a Family Justice Centre near you. You can also call Enquiry BC at 604-660-2421. Ask about the contact details of a Family Justice Centre near you.
Initially, a counsellor will meet with you separately. Your specific questions will be answered and referrals will be provided. Possible options for resolving your family dispute may be discussed. A family justice counsellor will only contact the other parent if you want them to.
If you and your former spouse are willing, an FJC can mediate discussions to help you both come to agreement regarding family matters. An arranged meeting would include all three of you and you would work together to find solutions and come to an agreement.
If you and your former spouse can resolve your differences, FJCs can outline your parenting arrangements in a written agreement, a consent order, or a Memorandum of Understanding. These documents can then be used to formalize the agreement between you and your former spouse. FJCs are not lawyers. You should meet with a lawyer before signing any legal agreements.
How Should I Prepare to Meet an FJC?
Before meeting with an FJC, you may wish to make a list of the issues and questions you need to discuss. Generally speaking, parents need to work things out in four key areas:
An FJC can help you with the first three items. To prepare for the meeting, consider the decisions you and the other parent have made in these areas.
To start, consider which parenting responsibilities both you and the other parent have with regards to the children. You may want to review the “Parenting Plan” that is one of the resources available through the Parenting After Separation course. The plan may help you focus on your particular family situation.
In addition, if you need help to work out possible child support or spousal support payments, you should bring information about your annual income and the income of your former spouse.
It may be helpful to bring certain documents and information to your initial meeting. When you phone the Family Justice Centre or Justice Access Centre to make an appointment, you will be provided with information of what would be useful to bring to the meeting.
Last reviewed: March 2016
IMPORTANT: This page provides legal information, not legal advice. If you need legal advice consult a lawyer.
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