Comparative Dispute Resolution Process:
Canada and the United States
Jurisdiction of Family Court
10.1The Canadian Law Reform Commission recommended that the Family Court should become a Unified Family Court that would have jurisdiction over all civil matters affecting family such as child neglect, declarations, custody, guardianship, maintenance, property and divorce.1053 The Ontario Law Reform Commission made similar recommendations but included criminal charges arising under the Criminal Code from family disputes. Unified Family Court pilot projects were established some years after the report. By 1995 several provinces had adopted a Unified Family Court model in which all matters relating to the family are heard by superior court judges.1054
Support services for families
10.2In Manitoba, “Manitoba Family Conciliation” operated by the Family Services Department, has developed short term, goal-oriented workshops for children aged nine to 12 whose parents are divorced or separated.1055 There are six sessions dealing with the internal and external reactions to divorce. The children are encouraged to share their experiences and give each other support. There is also a group for children aged 8 to 10 whose parents are involved in post-divorce conflict. This has 8 to 10 sessions and helps them develop coping strategies.
Manitoba Compulsory Access Assistance Program
10.3Between 1989 to 1993, this programme operated to assist families with severe access compliance problems, by diverting them into counselling by the court services. It was a pilot project funded by the Ministry of Justice, Manitoba Family Services and the Federal Department of Justice. The families were dysfunctional and mediation had failed or was inappropriate. Its goals were:
To assist children to have a positive continuing relationship with the access parent,
provide a safe, non threatening environment for the access to occur,
1053 Law Reform Commission of Canada , The Family Court, (1974: Working Paper No.1), 7-9, and the Report of the same name (1976: No.6).
1054 Gall, The Canadian Legal System, (4th ed, 1995) at 190.
1055 Henning, “Children’s Workshops; A new concept in Direct Services for children of Separation and Divorce”, (July 1987), reported in Alberta Law Reform Institute, Court-Connected Family Mediation Programs in Canada, Research Report (May 1994: No.20), 26.