AuthorJulien D. Payne,Marilyn A. Payne
Date25 July 2022
Family law is a changing and dynamic f‌ield. In the twenty-f‌irst century, Can-
adian families will encounter new challenges. Marriage and the family are
no longer synonymous. e traditional nuclear family of the 1950s, with its
breadwinning husband, homemaking wife, and their two or more children,
is a minority group. Two-income families, with or without children, high
divorce and remarriage rates, and the increasing incidence of unmarried
cohabitation, whether involving opposite- or same-sex couples, have fos-
tered new family structures and radical legal reforms. At the same time, there
has been increased recognition of the inherent limitations of the law in regu-
lating marriage and the family.
e public and the legal profession are aware of the devastating impact
that family breakdown can have on women and children. e feminization of
poverty that results from single parenthood, family breakdown, and divorce
continues to be of pressing concern to provincial and federal governments as
they seek to enforce spousal and child support payments that have fallen into
default and endeavour to provide a socioeconomic safety net for sole parents
and children.
Canadian family law is continually in transition as it responds to evolving
family structures. Chapter 1 of Canadian Family Law identif‌ies the changing
character of Canadian families and poses fundamental questions concern-
ing possible future directions of law and social policy in Canada. In addition,
it provides a review of the legal consequences of marriage breakdown and
divorce since the enactment of the f‌irst Dominion-wide Divorce Act in 1968.
e fragmentation of legislative powers between the Parliament of Canada
and the provincial and territorial legislatures is also addressed, together with
the inef‌f‌icient fragmentation of jurisdiction between diverse courts that has
led to the emergence of specialized Family Courts.

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