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«Best Practices at Family Justice System Entry Points: Needs of Users and Responses of Workers in the Justice System CONSULTATION PAPER SEPTEMBER 2009 ...»

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Should public legal education materials and information sessions be structured differently if they are offered before and after a family problem arises?

If so, what should be the main differences?

- If not, why?

Should there be an obligation for all entry point professionals (lawyers, mediators, social workers, etc.) to inform people of their dispute resolution options at a low cost before providing any services to someone?

In-Person Support

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Should professionals be required to refer clients to government funded free information sessions or provide the free sessions themselves?

Should professionals be obliged to make referrals and evaluate their quality?

Should health and legal professionals have the responsibility to making referrals to each other?

Should family justice system workers be required to follow up on cases to evaluate whether their information and referral systems are effective?

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As stated above, consultations will take place this fall. If necessary, additional consultations may be organized between January and April 2010.

If you would like to set up a consultation meeting with the LCO at your organization, you may contact the Project Head to discuss possible arrangements (see contact information below). Meetings can take place in person, by conference call or via other interactive technologies. You may propose meetings with workers and/or users of your services.

You may also propose to team up with other organizations in your community to organize a meeting or signal key gatherings that the LCO could possibly join to reach out to certain groups of users or workers. Although the LCO is interested in consulting with both users and workers of the family justice system, including family law lawyers, we are

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particularly interested in receiving proposals from organizations that may be able to help organize consultations with user groups in their community.

The LCO will also use its website and e-mail list to post calls for participants an inperson meetings and conference calls with targeted user and worker groups. If you would like to be added to the LCO contact list for this project, please communicate with the Project Head.

Finally, as with any LCO project, individual and organizations may send extensive submissions or shorter comments through the LCO website, by e-mail or by regular mail.

Submissions and comments must be received by December 1, 2009.

You can mail, fax, e-mail your submissions or comments, or use the LCO website comments form at http://projects.lco-cdo.org/familylawprocess.

Law Commission of Ontario “Family Justice System Entry Points Consultation” Computer Methods Building, Suite 201 4850 Keele Street Toronto, ON M3J 1P3 Fax: (416) 650-8418 E-mail: LawCommission@lco-cdo.org

Project Website Link and Comments Form:

http://projects.lco-cdo.org/familylawprocess If you have questions regarding this consultation, please contact us at (416) 650-8406.

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Law Commission of Ontario, “Family Law Process Project”, online: LCO http://www.lcocdo.org/en/familylaw.html.

See the LCO website for more information on this project and to consult the final report:


See the LCO Project Options Paper for information about the LCO 2008 Family Law Roundtable and early 2009 consultation about family law project options (Law Commission of Ontario, “Family Law Project Options: Consultation Paper” (January 2009), online: LCO http://www.lcocdo.org/fr/documents/FamilyLawProjectOtionsConsultationpaper.pdf [Project Options Paper];

see also the Family Law Process Project page for more information about this project, online:

LCO http://www.lco-cdo.org/en/familylaw.html.

As stated by Professor Robert Leckey, there is no official family definition under Canadian law.

Families are formed for a variety of reasons and function differently from one to another. Trying to make sense of these various models and respond to them through the justice system is complex.

In that regard, Professor Leckey developed a useful framework to analyze family relationships, which involves four oppositions: private versus public law; instrumental versus non-instrumental or symbolic value; formal versus functional recognition; and formal versus substantive equality.

Understanding where families are situated in relation to these oppositions can help better design legal and broader social justice responses to problems faced by these families (see Robert Leckey, “Families in the Eyes of the Law: Contemporary Challenges and the Grip of the Past” (2009) 15 IRPP Choices 2).

The LCO invites stakeholders to express their particular needs in terms of timing for consultations. If the LCO is informed in advance, it may be able to accommodate groups who do not have the capacity to make a submission or participate in consultations in the fall but who would like to be heard.

See section VII, “How to Participate”, for contact information.

For a description of this project’s intersectional analytical framework, see the Project Options Paper, above note 3.

The terms “entry points”, “access points” and “point-of-entry services” are, for example, used in Gayla Reid & John Malcolmson’s “Civil Hub Research Project: Needs Mapping” (June 2007), online: Attorney General British Columbia Government www.ag.gov.bc.ca/justice-reforminitiatives/.../CivilJusticeHub.pdf [B.C. Civil Hub Project].

The Iranian Ontarian population may feel the necessity to be married both under Canadian and Iranian law as Iran does not recognize marriages based only on Canadian law. This can be crucial when parents want to travel to Iran together, as well as with their children. Children can only have access to Iranian birth certificates if the father is Iranian or both parents are Iranian and married under Iranian law. The children’s access to Iranian birth certificates prevents them from having to obtain foreigner visas every time they visit Iran. The Iranian embassy in Canada therefore requires official Canadian and Iranian marriage documents to recognize a couple as married under the Iranian law and provide Iranian birth certificates for their children. (Interview of Mohammad Sotoudehfar, religious official authorized by the provincial government to solemnize marriages in Ontario under the Marriage Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. M.3, conducted by Nazila Rostami, research student at the Law Commission of Ontario (25 May 2009) at Peivand Registrar office, North York, Ontario; confirmed by information inferred and translated by Nazila Rostami from the Iranian embassy website: www.salamiran.org). This situation will not change unless Ontario and Canada negotiate the recognition of Ontario marriages with the Iranian government. The same problem also exists with other countries such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan (see Lauren Vriens, “Islam: Governing Under Sharia (aka shariah, shari’a)” Council on Foreign Relations (23 March 2009), online: cfr http://www.cfr.org/publication/8034/).

A list of religious officials is available on the Ontario government website under “Marriage – Religious Officials Authorized to Solemnize Marriage”, online: Life Events

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http://www.ontario.ca/en/life_events/married/133022 [Ontario government website]. This list contains names of various religions’ officials and not strictly Muslim officials.

For example one of them is run by Mohammad Sotoudehfar who is trained in Iranian law and has some knowledge of the Canadian system. He would provide clients with basic information about Canadian marriage and divorce law but would refer clients to Ontario lawyers he knows if they required more information (Interview of Mohammad Sotoudehfar, above note 9). Moreover, the Ontario government website posts the following warning: “Registration under Ontario's Marriage Act authorizes a person to solemnize marriages in Ontario. However, it is the responsibility of the individual religious official to ensure he or she is complying with the requirements of Marriage Act. The Government of Ontario does not guarantee that an individual registered to solemnize marriages under the Marriage Act will comply with the requirements of the Marriage Act” (Ontario government website, Ibid.). In short, although the Ontario government provides lists of religious officials authorized to celebrate marriages, it does not guarantee that these marriages will comply with Canadian law.

Informal consultation with Alia Hogben, Executive Director, Canadian Council for Muslim Women, on August 14, 2009.

For more information about this project’s intersectional approach, see the Project Options Paper, above note 3.

The notion of clusters of problems in the family law context is explained in Mary Anne Noone, “Towards Integrated Legal Service Delivery”, (2009) La Trobe Law School Legal Studies

Research Paper No. 2009/1, online:

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1425099 at 2 [Noone].

The rules of conduct of various professions may also present obstacles to collaboration. For example, the Law Society of Upper Canada does not allow lawyers to engage in other activities that can jeopardize their professional integrity, independence or competence (Law Society of Upper Canada, Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 6.04, online: LSUC http://www.lsuc.on.ca/regulation/a/profconduct). Their collaboration with other professionals must therefore respect certain boundaries established by the profession.

An Australia-based study examined for example “how lawyers and family dispute resolution practitioners see each other and work together…. to identify factors that facilitate good working relationships within these contexts”. This study identified lawyers’ advocacy roles and family dispute resolution practitioners’ neutrality obligations as significant differences that needed to be taken into account in developing collaborative relationships (Helen Rhoades, Ann Sanson, and Hilary Astor with Rae Kaspiew, “Working on their Relationships: a study of inter-professional practices in a changing family law system: Research Report 1”, December 2006, The University of Melbourne at i-iii).

Bill 133, An Act to amend various Acts in relation to certain family law matters and to repeal the Domestic Violence Protection Act, 2000, 1st Sess., 39th Leg., Ontario, 2008 (assented to 14 May 2009), S.O. 2009, c.11.

See http://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/news/2009/20090908-lao-bg.asp.

Alfred A. Mamo, Peter G. Jaffe, and Debbie G. Chiodo, Recapturing and Renewing the Vision of the Family Court, April 27, 2007 [Mamo, Jaffe and Chiodo Report].

Mamo, Jaffe and Chiodo Report, ibid. at 7-10.

The Ontario Bar Association Family Law Section, ADR Institute of Ontario & IAFM, “Family Law

Process Reform: Supporting Families to Support their Children” (7 April 2009), online:

http://www.oafm.on.ca/Documents/OBA%20OAFM%20ADR%20Institute%20submission%20Apr %207%2009.pdf.

Ibid. at 4-5.

Honourable Coulter A. Osborne, Q.C., Civil Justice Reform Project: Summary of Findings and

Recommendations, November 2007, online:

http://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/about/pubs/cjrp [Osborne Report].

Michael Trebilcock, “Report of the Legal Aid Review 2008” (submitted to the Honourable Chris

Bentley, Attorney General of Ontario) 2008, online:

http://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/about/pubs/ [Trebilcock Report].

Ibid. at iii.

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Law Society of Upper Canada, “Ontario Civil Legal Needs Project”, online: LSUC http://www.lsuc.on.ca/latest-news/a/ontario-civil-legal-needs-project/ [Ontario Civil Legal Needs Project].



The Law Society of Upper Canada, News Release, "Hon. Roy McMurtry to lead comprehensive study of Ontario public's legal needs" (14 January 2009), online: LSUC http://www.lsuc.on.ca/media/jan1308_civil_legal_needs_en.pdf at 1 [LSUC news release].

Ibid. at 2.

The Law Society of Upper Canada, “Access to Justice Committee Report to Convocation” (26, June 2008), (prepared by the Equity Initiatives Department, Jewel Amoah, Counsel – 416-947online: LSUC http://www.lsuc.on.ca/media/convjun08_atj.pdf at 17 [Ontario Civil Legal Needs Convocation Report].

Ibid. at 18-19.

The Law Foundation of Ontario, Connecting Across Language and Distance: Linguistic and

Rural Access to Legal Information and Services by Karen Cohl and George Thomson (Toronto:

The Law Foundation of Ontario, 2008) [Linguistic and Rural Access Project Report].

Ibid. at 52-55.

Ibid. at 2.


Luke’s Place Support and Resource Centre, “Needs Assessment and Gap Analysis for Abused Women Unrepresented in the Family Law System: Final Report and Recommendations” (report prepared for The Denise House), Queens Printer, 2008 [Luke’s Place Report].

Ibid. at 2.


Ibid at 20-24.

The LCO attended a meeting as an observer in June 2009 at the invitation of Patti Cross.

Child protection is amongst the family law topics on this website; see Community Legal Education Ontario, “Family Law Resources in Ontario” Publications Online: Family (April 2007), online: CLEO http://www.cleo.on.ca/english/pub/onpub/subject/family.htm.

CLEO’s text and audio materials are available in Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin and Simplified Chinese), Somali, Spanish, Tamil and Urdu; see Community Legal Education Ontario, “Six Languages Text and Audio Project: A pilot project released by CLEO in 2008”, online: CLEO http://www.cleo.on.ca/english/six/index.htm.

“Family Law Resources” Ministry of the Attorney General, online: MAG http://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/justice-ont/family_law.asp; see also Ontario, Ministry of the Attorney General, What you should know about Family Law (information booklet), (Ontario: ISBN 0-7778-8502-6, March 2006).

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