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Family law reforms roll out across Ontario today

|Written By Glenn Kauth

The provincial government is rolling out family law reforms across Ontario today.

The changes involve an expansion of services already available at some Ontario courthouses up until now. They include the mandatory information program that began as a pilot project at the courts in Milton and Brampton, Ont. The idea is to offer more upfront information to families on their dispute-resolution options and provide essential details on how divorce affects children.

Attorney General Chris Bentley has been championing the changes for some time. They’re part of the so-called Four Pillars of family law reform that Bentley has touted as a cost-effective route to speeding up the justice system while making it less expensive for families.

Making mediation available at courts across the province is also key to the changes. The idea, according to Bentley, is to give families a greater chance of resolving their disputes without going through a drawn-out court process by removing some of the confrontation involved in separation and divorce. As a result, litigants will have free access to limited on-site mediation as well as off-site mediators working on a sliding scale based on income.

Ontario Chief Justice Warren Winkler, however, has thrown some cold water on Bentley’s reforms. Speaking at the Law Society of Upper Canada’s family law summit last month, Winkler said that while he welcomes the changes, they don’t go far enough to cure an ailing family justice system. In his view, mediation should be a mandatory component of the family law process with litigation reserved for those cases where there’s abuse, an imbalance of power or an unco-operative party.

  • RE: Family law reforms roll out across Ontario today

    Tell me about it. My husband turned the kids against me and now I get to pay child support. He earns approximately $150,000 per year to my $39,000. I get to pay him $784 per month which is approximately $9,500 per year. He gets that tax free and I take it off my net pay which puts me close to the poverty line net income. He buys them apple computers, ipods, iphones, cars, trips to Cuba and they say "thank you daddy"????!!!! As soon as I started to pay child support he bought himself a new car! He has had 3 new cars since we separated and I bought one used one because the van he left me couldn't get out of the driveway. And that is just the start . . . I have a friend who pays more than 50% spousal support and because he had a loser of a lawyer when he signed the separation agreement he cant' do anything about it. The system favours the whiners, lazy spouses and greedy useless lawyers.
  • Yvonne
    Family law is a joke. My sister died in August and her husband allowed his brothers to molest hisl 5 year old daughter and grandparents stood up and filed a complaint to CPS. Now none of the maternal family is allowed to visit ....because we stood up against sexual abuse of a child and the inability of a parent to care about his childrens wellbeing. ...its a joke and abuse indeed. Just makes me so very sad they have lost a mother and everyone who cared for them just sad.
  • RE: Family law reforms roll out across Ontario today

    One day hopefully there will be a greater consistency between what child psychology experts have long espoused and what judges recommend. I don't believe there are any judges with PhDs in child psychology, yet judges are free to impose their own interpretation of "the best interests of the child" without reference to and in many case in direct contradiction to well established research. The same goes with the OCL, who have as of yet no transparent guidelines to ensure the "evidence based government" that has been called for by various esteemed ministers for so long. Well at least a drop in the bucket is one more drop. It's not enough though. This crisis is too debilitating for Ontario families to continue.

    Then on top of that there are the unethical family law lawyers.
  • Emerald Ann
    I agree that the legal system is a joke, but the joke can be on both parents.
    I have been dealing with an unco-operative Ex. for aproximately 12 years now. He was emotionally abusive during our relationship and has found a way to continue this through the court system. Every opportunity he finds to stop me from seeing our children he takes, as well as bad mouthing me to our children and the community. He has severely damaged my relationship with our Daughter, and stopped me from seeing our Son for a year. I moved away in order to distance myself from his abuse and depite having joint custody he was able to keep primary residence.
    Last year I decided to fight back and charge him with contempt of court, (I had not seen my Son for an entire year), and that did not seem to stick since he "suddenly" became co-operative. Unfortunately i have had to represent myself as I cannot afford a retainer and he is able to be represented by his drinking buddy/Lawyer.
  • Janice
    How do these new rules aid grandparents and grandchildren in getting access to each other when the parent or parents are using the children as a weapon to hurt the grands?

    Hon Chris Bentley touted that these reforms will aid grandparents seek visitation rights!; which are actually rights of children in having access to their culture and extended family ties.
  • Adam Slater
    Your article about the new requirement that all couples attend a mandatory information session before being able to file for divorce is inaccurate and misleading: First, it is not a new rule. The rule has been in effect in Toronto for many years. Second, nothing new happened as of July 18. The rule will go province wide in September. Third, and most importantly, the requirement does NOT apply to 'simple' divorces which are the vast majority of divorces that are filed. It only applies if you are asking for something in addition to the divorce (spousal support, child custody/access support, division of property, etc.). It also does not apply to joint divorces.
  • RE: Family law reforms roll out across Ontario today

    Stacy Sheasby
    Absolutely! Except what happens when the balance of power is do to a power hungry mother? Apparently, nothing. Why not remove some of the bias in the courts? This no fault system of divorce allowed my partner - a good loving Dad to be cheated on in his marriage. Now he has the privilege to be financially raped every month for around half his take home pay according to the federal tables based on grossed up incomes and after the tax man has eaten his third. And if that wasn't bad enough, he now gets to fight for his very right to be a parent because she wants to rob him now of the essence of being a dad and have Sole custody.

    This countries family laws are a joke and Dad's are the punch line. People don't even believe me when I tell them our story. How could they think something this atrocious could happen in our beloved Canada?

    This is simply an appetizer of a reform that needs to get to the meat of the problem and QUICK!
  • patrick
    in almost the same position & since custody order made 2 years after son brought back 2 ontario from saskatchewan & 1.5 years after son taken out of school so he could take care of his mother & other brother all the while being on welfare. suppose 2 be workfare. now 18yrs old & not in school can not find out what is going on with him or joke of support. SOLE custody as far as I am concerned is CHILD ABUSE & the government & courts are GUILTY of running the biggest JOKE.




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