Ontario Chief Justice expands on family law comments

Earlier this fall, Ontario Chief Justice Warren Winkler said that the Ontario Family Law system was desperately in need of an overhaul, and suggested that mediation become mandatory in divorce disputes before couples head to court.

In recent interview with Law Times magazine, Winkler expanded on these comments, saying that the main reason family law overhaul is so desperately needed is that family law rulings seriously affect the lives of whole families and mistakes can ruin lives, denying parents access to children and creating detrimental repercussions to family relationships.

He said that education and awareness on the family law process is necessary for couples to be successful during mediation, and that those involved need to desire a positive outcome for all parties or it won’t be successful as a solution.

The family court system is extremely strained, and wait times are already too long for heated divorce cases that really need to court system to be processed.

He added, “when we introduced mandatory mediation as part of the civil justice reform, it reduced the waiting time to trial by two-thirds. I’m confident it will reduce the inventory of family law cases and free up judges for trials and I’m sure it will be in the best interests of the parties by making the system better, cheaper and quicker.”

Other provinces are making progress in family law changes, with Alberta recently attempting to change the definition of parent in family law cases to allow for easier custody resolutions with parents who used assisted reproduction methods, and British Columbia attempting to change its family law system to catch up with modern times. However, no province has officially proposed a major family law system reform with regards to how cases go through the court system.

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