No one likes to deal with long, drawn-out divorce proceedings. To make things smoother for couples, authorities in Manitoba are implementing measures to speed things up in family court so divorces, child custody disputes and other issues are wrapped up sooner rather than later—and are ultimately less expensive.
The court has devised a new model for scheduling case-flow management, reports Global News. This includes a triage system that analyzes and pairs down the number of issues involved in a dispute before it reaches the courtroom.
The goal is to reduce the demands of the court and to help the parties involved, who face financial and emotional stress, according to Chief Justice Glenn Joyal of Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench.
“If you have a matter lingering in the Court of Queen’s Bench … for a period of three to four years, without even a trial date yet being set, you can almost assume and count on that delay as having significant implications for both the financial costs to the litigant and the emotional costs to the litigant,” Joyal commented.
It’s common for people to want answers regarding the length of the proceedings, how much money they need to settle a dispute, and when they can finally get closure. If people don’t have those answers, the system is “foundationally deficient about what you’re (they’re) offering as a judicial service,” Joyal noted.
Winnipeg family lawyer Greg Evans told Global News that the changes will enable attorneys and their clients to resolve things in advance of a first court appearance. “You have to be pretty clear about what your client needs before you embark in the system,” Evans explained.
Manitoba’s criminal, civil litigation, and child protection courts have enacted similar methods to speed things up.
Meanwhile, Manitoba is deciding whether to offer an administrative alternative to some family court hearings, such as meditation.
“We have to put in place those best practices that will make Manitobans believe that they’re getting a better quality of access to justice in family matters in a system that’s going to be considerably less complex, considerably less slow and, in the end, considerably less expensive,” Joyal said.
In addition to accelerating divorce proceedings, there are other ways couples can make divorce easier, according to experts:
- Consider mediation as an alternative to courtroom proceedings
- Communicate with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse, using a psychologist if necessary
- Write down the things you want to discuss
- Try to keep conflict away from the kids and be honest with them about the process
- Minimize changes as much as possible when children are involved, including living arrangements
- Take care of yourself and turn to friends and family for support