Affordable, faster, and less confrontational—that’s the new direction for family law in Ontario.
By next summer, families across the province will have access to improved services through Ontario’s courts.
Ontario is increasing access to justice by expanding valuable services to all court locations.
Families soon will have access to:
•the Mandatory Information Program that offers more options for families experiencing breakdown, and helps them learn about the effects of separation and divorce;
•the Family Mediation Service that helps families identify challenges and work out solutions outside the courtroom, which saves parents money; and
•Information and Referral Co-ordinators who will refer families to community agencies that can help them resolve challenges earlier and at less cost.
The new approach to settling family disputes will help more Ontario families avoid the courtroom in favour of an early, affordable, out-of-court resolution.
This is part of the government’s “Open Ontario” plan to make the family justice system more straightforward, focused, and affordable, as well as to provide accessible and consistent family justice services for all Ontarians.
“We made a commitment to Ontario families to make our family justice system more affordable, faster, simpler, and less confrontational,” said Attorney General Chris Bentley.
“These programs deliver on that promise,” he stressed. “This is about the people and not just the process.
“Ontario is committed to providing families with the justice services they need, when they need them,” Bentley added.
“The Ontario Bar Association supports expansion of early information sessions and mediation services, as well as other reforms making the family justice system more accessible and less upsetting for the children and families in these difficult, life-changing times,” noted OBA president Lee Akazaki.
“As lawyers who serve these families on the front-lines, we always appreciate the opportunity to work with government to improve the justice system.”
The Mandatory Information Program was piloted in Milton, Brampton, and Toronto.
It will be available in 17 additional courts by April, 2011 and the remainder of the courts by next summer.
The Family Mediation Service and Information and Referral Co-ordinators currently are available in 17 family courts locations, and will be made available in the rest of Ontario’s courts by next summer.
Roughly 160,000 people use Ontario’s family courts each year.