The LCO today releases its final report in its family law project, Increasing Access to Family Justice through Comprehensive Entry Points and Inclusivity.
The family law system has been the subject of much comment in recent years and many reports recommending changes to the system. Since 2010, there have been reforms in relation to procedures to address domestic violence against women, provision of information, methods of resolving disputes other than the courts, changes in the courts and other efforts to improve the system. Yet persons facing family disputes still find the system complex and difficult to navigate. The LCO’s Final Report focuses on the initial stages of the system, notably the provision of information, ways of providing initial advice and the interrelationship of legal problems with other kinds of problems.
The Report emphasizes the need for the system to respond to the evolving pluralist nature of Ontario’s population, and addresses how factors such as literacy levels, cognitive disabilities and, geographic location, among other characteristics, affect how easily people can access and use information, the affordability of legal representation and the degree to which legal problems are affected by other kinds of problems. It recommends the creation or enhancement of multidisciplinary, multifunctional centres or networks that link with “trusted intermediaries” such as cultural centres. “Tinkering with the family law system is not sufficient,” says LCO Board Chair Bruce Elman, “There needs to be comprehensive reform if it is to be made more accessible and effective for those who need it”.
This final report builds on previous studies and reports and is the result of substantial research and public consultation, and the advice of an ad hoc Advisory Group.
Launched in September 2007, the LCO is funded by the Law Foundation of Ontario, the Ministry of the Attorney General, Osgoode Hall Law School and the Law Society of Upper Canada, and is also supported Ontario’s law schools. It receives funding and in-kind assistance from York University. Housed in the Ignat Kaneff Building, home of Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, it operates independently of government to recommend law reforms to enhance access to justice.