Ridout Barron


Options for streamlining family court process

The provincial court and the Court of Queen's Bench may have disagreed over the resolution of family law matters previously, but those in charge of both courts are now open to the possibility of creating one court to handle all family law matters across Alberta. One of the chief provincial judges observed that they could learn how to be more effective by looking at other jurisdictions. He elaborated, saying that a single family court would be more efficient.

Alberta and three other locales have separate courts that handle family law cases while nine territories and provinces have already combined their family law courts. In Alberta, the federal government addresses the end a marriage and property division so those decisions must be heard in Superior Court headed up by a federal judge. However, child custody, guardianship, visitation and child protection are determined in provincial courts.

A federal judge reported that they need to determine what problems plague the system before officials can determine a solution. He explained that the courts are considering all options, and a united family court is just one of many solutions. However, the provincial judge believes that an increase in funding may be better than rearranging the current system. He also suggested that it would ultimately be less expensive to the government because savings in court time would offset the additional costs of appointing more judges. This would benefit everyone in the end, especially children who are adversely affected by a long, drawn-out court process.

If the Alberta courts decide to combine all civil litigation stemming from family disputes, the process could be streamlined, benefiting all parties. However, a family lawyer could help a client understand the current system.

Source: Calgary Herald, "Judges look to unified court for family law cases", Jason Van Rassel, June 02, 2014

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