Family law needs holistic approach

July 31, 2013

[Source: Law Times]

The issues family law litigants face can be addressed not just by the justice system, but through a more holistic approach that leverages the connection and know-how of other community services, according to the Law Commission of Ontario’s final report on family law reform.

Part of running an effective family law system means identifying when litigants’ problems are not, in fact, legal and should be dealt with by other experts, says the report released last week.

“It’s an early way of triaging, an early way of saying, ‘What are people’s needs and what really is related to the problem?’” says Patricia Hughes, the family law reform project head at Law Commission of Ontario.

“You say, ‘Is this related to the fact that the family is in debt? Does somebody have mental health difficulties or has some issues around children?’ So that rather than just jumping into conclusion that this is all about law, you have ways of finding out and bringing in other kinds of expertise.”

In his courtroom, Ontario Court Justice Harvey Brownstone says referral to other programs is routine. Sometimes, he says, what bitterly combative ex-spouses need is counselling — not legal help.

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