On September 24, 2020, the Attorney General introduced Bill 207, the Moving Ontario Family Law Forward Act, 2020.
If passed, the bill aims to relieve stress, strain, and burden for Ontarians by providing more clarity for families involved in family law matters. These changes will allow parents and guardians to spend less time on paperwork and court appearances and more time caring for their children and focused on their future.
The legislative changes would:
• allow parents and caregivers to request certified copies of child support notices made by the online child support service, so child support amounts can be more easily and affordably managed or enforced outside the province;
• make the family law appeals process clearer and easier to navigate; and
• align Ontario’s family laws with federal changes, so they are clearer and more streamlined.
In addition to these legislative amendments, the Ministry of the Attorney General is removing the requirement for family law arbitrators to file family arbitration award reports with the ministry, saving time and money and aligning Ontario with every other province.
MAG is also working with the courts to expand the Dispute Resolution Officer program to Kitchener and Welland.
The Justice Services Online (JSO) platform (ontario.ca/familyclaims and
ontario.ca/page/file-civil-claim-online) has expanded to enable the online submission of close to 400 types of civil and family court documents.
The new services, “Civil Submissions Online” and “Family Submissions Online” will provide a simple and quick way to electronically submit court documents, at every step in a case, in any new or existing:
• civil action or application in the SCJ; and
• family proceeding in the SCJ or OCJ.
Users can pay court fees online securely by debit or credit card. Individuals can also use the system to request a fee waiver certificate or submit documents with an existing fee waiver certificate.
To access Justice Services Online, users are required to create an account using their Ontario ONe-key ID. ONe-key is a unique electronic credential that allows you to communicate securely with online government services.
Setting up your ONe-key ID is fast and simple. To learn more, visit https://www.one-key.gov.on.ca/iaalogin/overview.jsp.
The Ministry will enhance the service based on user feedback. If you have any questions or would like to provide feedback about the service, please contact Alexey Togunov, Director, Project Implementation Branch at Alexey.Togunov@ontario.ca.
The Law Society’s Access to Justice Committee invites lawyers, paralegals, legal organizations and members of the public to provide comments on a FLSP Licensing model.
The proposed scope of permissible activities, required competencies and outline of the training program are detailed in the Access to Justice Committee: Family Legal Services Provider Licence Consultation Paper.
FOLA is preparing a submission and is in the process of consulting members. If you are interested in sharing your thoughts with us for consideration in our submission, please email Katie at email@example.com by Nov. 17th.
If you are interested in sending your comments directly to the Law Society, the deadline is Nov. 30th.
For more information, please visit here.
SCJ Notice - Supplementary Notice to the Profession and Litigants in Civil and Family Matters Including Electronic Filings and Document Sharing (Caselines Pilot) (September 2, 2020)
OCJ Scheduling Notice – RE: Updates Regarding the Expansion of Family Matters. In addition to other updates covered in the revised Family Scheduling Notice, beginning September 28, 2020 and until further notice, all First Appearance Court/First Court Dates, as per rule 40(4) of the Family Law Rules before a clerk will be waived. Parties and counsel will be asked to file a new waiver form.
OCJ Notice - Scheduling of Family Matters in the OCJ (August 10)
OCJ Notice re: the process of electronically submitting documents at the OCJ (August 10)
Under the leadership of the OBA, FOLA joined with Legal Aid Ontario (LAO), The Advocates’ Society (TAS) in an effort to assist the Court in identifying which matters ought to be prioritized as remote operations continue to be expanded.
Here is a copy of our letter (dated June 23, 2020) to The Honourable Lise Maisonneuve Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice outlining our recommendations.
The Government of Canada is still moving forward with Bill C-78 with two amendments and two new regulations.
The date for the coming into force of most of the provisions in the Divorce Act (the Act) was fixed by order in council as July 1, 2020.
The consultation period will end on April 20, 2020. Submissions must cite the Canada Gazette, Part 1 and be sent to the Family and Children’s Law and Policy Unit via email:
Amendments and new regulations can be seen in the Canada Gazette.
UPDATE: MAG REVIEW OF FAMILY AND CIVIL LEGISLATION, REGULATIONS, AND PROCESSES
During June and July 2019, Lindsey Park, MPP and Parliamentary Assistant to the Attorney General, led a review of Family and Civil Legislation, Regulations, and Processes. In addition to hosting consultation sessions across the province, the government accepted written submissions.
You can read FOLA's submission here.
You can read the TLA's Proposals for Family Law Reform here.
In September 2019, the Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues, Jill Dunlop, announced the launch of an engagement with youth, families, caregivers, frontline workers and child welfare sector leaders to strengthen the child welfare system for children and youth.
FOLA continues to monitor this and will notify members of any amendments.
Since the Family Law Action Plan was approved in December 2017, the Law Society has carried out a significant amount of work in the development of a licensing framework that will permit paralegals and others to assist the public with certain family legal services. The Family Law Working Group—a bencher group established by Convocation—is responsible for overseeing the development of the licence.
The first step in building the licensing framework is the determination of the scope of permissible activities. Consultation has been key to the development of that scope, which is ongoing.
On May 13, 2019, Ontario's Attorney General announced 12 new judicial appointments to support UFC expansion to eight new sites: Belleville, Cayuga, Kitchener, Pembroke, Picton, Simcoe, St. Thomas, and Welland. Unified Family Courts now exist in 25 jurisdictions, which means more than half of the province’s population can now attend one court to resolve all their family law issues.
In 2016, Ontario's Attorney General and the Law Society of Ontario Canada asked Justice Annemarie Bonkalo to undertake a consultation to "Expand Legal Service Options for Families". Included in this consultation was a proposal to allow paralegals and other legal service providers, such as law students or law clerks, to deal with certain family matters. The Ministry consultation page can be accessed at this link.
Justice Bonkalo's report was released to the public in February of 2017.
Ontario's Attorney General called on FOLA to comment on how the they should amend legislation as a result of the Federal' government's Bill C-78 is to determine how it will impact Ontario’s family justice system, and what changes may need to be made in preparation for Bill C-78 coming into force.
You can view FOLA's submission here
And you can view the Family Law association for Middlesex here.
WANT ONLINE TOOLS? CHECK OUT THESE
The Ontario Family Law Limited Scope Services Project’s website (funded by a grant from the Law Foundation of Ontario) has been designed to improve access to family justice for middle and lower income Ontarians by increasing the use of limited scope retainers, legal coaching and summary legal counsel in family law matters.
On the site, you can find resources for family lawyers and other useful Information.
PLUS: the Project has waived the requirement that is a mandatory pre-requisite to joining the roster to require that lawyers watch the webinar in groups during the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, you now have the ability to complete the mandatory training alone with a request that the viewer has a quick check-in with the project manager to facilitate registration and an opportunity to have questions answered.
IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT THE PROJECT, PLEASE EMAIL TAMI AT:
Lawyers who have 3+ years of experience with a minimum of 30% in family law can register for free after doing the 2 hour webinar.
If you are looking for ways to increase member engagement during the pandemic (and to help promote participation in this important access to justice initiative), why not run a contest? Challenge a neighbouring law association for a signup duel! FOLA would offer to be the neutral judge.
If you are interested in competing against another association, just let Katie know at firstname.lastname@example.org, and she will help get both associations some information (suggested tweets, images, newsletter blurb, etc) to get you started, and FOLA will announce and recognize the winner(s) on social media!
To see the roster of family lawyers who have already signed up for the project, click here.
IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT THE PROJECT, PLEASE EMAIL TAMI AT:
MAG is pleased to share that Community Legal Education Ontario’s Guided Pathways to Family Court Forms tool continues to expand.
In addition to helping users complete the forms required to apply for a simple or joint divorce and file a separation agreement with the court, the tool now leads users through many forms required to apply for corollary relief, including custody, access, support, property division, and a restraining order (with or without a divorce claim).
Family Claims Online and Guided Pathways are complementary online services that aim to strengthen the Ontario family justice system by making it more efficient and easier to use.
In Ontario, you can apply to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice for a divorce.
You can file online for a::
Before you submit your online application, make sure you qualify and have all of the required documents.
On February 25, 2019, the Family Claims Online service was expanded to enable Ontarians to initiate simple divorce applications online at any time. The existing joint divorce online filing process has also been enhanced to permit property claims on consent.
The service will continue to allow users to pay court fees online securely by credit or debit card and enable users to create profiles in order to save filings in progress and view the history of their filings.
This expansion follows the successful province-wide launch of the service in November 2018.