Family Law

Family Law Legislation

These laws make rules about family relationships in the Northwest Territories.

Family Law Act (Department of Justice)
The Family Law Act sets out the laws about the rights and responsibilities of married and common-law spouses when the relationship ends and the individuals wish to divorce and/or separate, including spousal support and the division of family property.

Children's Law Act (Department of Justice)
The Children’s Law Act deals with decisions regarding children, such as custody, support, access and parentage. Custody involves determining where a child will live and who will make decisions about the care and upbringing of the child. Access means the time that a parent who does not have the day-to-day care of the child is able to spend with the child or children.

Divorce Act (Federal) (Government of Canada)
The Divorce Act applies only to people who are legally married and sets out the rules for ending a marriage. It does not apply to people who live together without being married, also known as common-law relationships. It is a federal law and applies everywhere in Canada as to the ending of a legal relationship, including the making of arrangements for children, custody and access decisions and child and/or spousal support.

Child and Family Services Act (Department of Health and Social Services)
The Child and Family Services Act creates and enables the child protection process in the Northwest Territories. The Act protects the best interests of the child, while ensuring the constitutional rights of parents and guardians are respected. The Act provides a framework for community involvement in child protection concerns through the implementation of Plan of Care Agreements.

Maintenance Orders Enforcement Act (Department of Justice)
The Maintenance Orders Enforcement Act sets up the Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP) authority. This program helps those registered with it by monitoring, enforcing and collecting court orders or agreements for payment of support. The program is a free service and available if you register through the MEP office. The program does not obtain court orders for clients, change the amount of the support ordered by a court or through agreements, or vary a court order for support.

Adoption Act (Department of Health and Social Services)
The Adoption Act sets out the requirements to adopt children in the Northwest Territories.  The Act promotes the best interest of the child by recognizing differing cultural values and practices when establishing their legal status within their permanent family through adoption and protects the rights of everyone involved:  the child, the birth parents and the adopting parents. 

Aboriginal Custom Adoption Recognition Act (Department of Health and Social Services)
The Aboriginal Custom Adoption Recognition Act sets out a simple procedure where aboriginal custom adoptions can be respected and recognized by the Supreme Court so that children who are custom adopted can obtain birth certificate documentation in the appropriate name. 

Marriage Act (Department of Health and Social Services)
The Marriage Act sets out the process for getting married in the Northwest Territories.

Protection Against Family Violence Act (Department of Justice)
The Protection Against Family Violence Act provides additional legal tools to help protect people who are threatened or harmed by a violent family member. This Act provides for emergency protection orders, protection orders and new tools for the police through warrants to permit entry.

Inter-jurisdictional Support Orders Act (Department of Justice)
The Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act (ISO) sets out a process for a person who lives in the Northwest Territories and needs to obtain or vary a support order when the other person involved lives outside the Northwest Territories. The process can result in a support or variation order being made in the other person’s jurisdiction without making a court application in the Northwest Territories. Other jurisdictions in Canada have similar legislations to provide for applications to be made in the Northwest Territories from out of Territories.

Change of Name Act (Department of Health and Social Services)
The Change of Name Act sets out the process to obtain a legal change of name in the NWT. It also enables a person to assume their spouses’ surname and revert back to a former surname if the spousal relationship breaks down without a formal application under the Act. The Registrar General of Vital Statistics administers this Act and may deny changes that could cause embarrassment or mistakes to be made.

Vital Statistics Act (Department of Health and Social Services)
The Vital Statistics Act sets out the process for the registration of births, stillbirths, marriages and deaths that occur in the Northwest Territories. The Act also gives the Registrar General authority to amend registrations and issue documents confirming these events.

This website explains the law in general.  It is not intended to give you legal advice on your particular problem.  Because each person's case is different, you need to get legal help.  The information on this website is up to date as of April 2009.