Andreina Minicozzi and Devry Smith Frank LLP are committed to following the guidelines and recommendations outlined by the Public Health Agency of Canada to ensure the safety and wellbeing of employees, colleagues, clients, friends, and families. During these unprecedented times, we understand that your family law matter may be in flux. It is important to recognize what the landscape of family law may look like in Ontario after COVID-19. This post looks at such a future.
With limited relief currently available to families through the courts, these unprecedented times may change the future of family law forever. Alternative dispute resolution, which continues to be refined, has surged, and on the other hand, the courts are now forced to offer a more streamlined and efficient process. Overall, this may bode well for the family law system holistically.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Alternative dispute resolution such as mediation, arbitration and collaborative family law have become staples in the legal landscape and while the courts have scaled back on the issues which they can resolve, these alternative dispute options continue strongly and have the capability to adapt to an online platform much quicker.
An online mediation could allow a couple to resolve their family law matter over a shared video conference platform such as Zoom. Arbitration allows parties to hire a private arbitrator to make a decision on their dispute. Arbitration can use video conferencing for oral arguments and cross-examination, and documents can be exchanged electronically in moments.
Litigation can be lengthy and expensive, but with the health of alternative dispute resolution maintaining its position in the legal landscape amid such a crisis, you can expect many more family law matters to engage with the justice system through mediation, arbitration, and collaborative family law given their streamlined service and ability to adapt to changing landscapes.
A Streamlined Court System
Canadian courts are now also rapidly updating their procedure to accommodate litigants through remote access and virtual hearings. Even such processes like notarizing documents and signing affidavits have been adapted to accommodate the need to changes in this current landscape. We have also seen an advanced email filing system for many Ontario courts
The longer social distancing is required, the more the courts will need to adapt, increasing the options for remote or virtual hearings and streamlining further processes. This is also stated with the understanding that there will be a predictable influx of new and ongoing family law matters that need to be addressed once the restrictions relating to COVID-19 are lifted.
Even long after Canada has recovered from COVID-19, you can expect such streamlined processes in family law to remain as the new norm or at least a viable option for litigants; a welcomed culmination of a time where the entire world was forced to adapt for the better. What may result is a more modernized court process through technology and expediency, and one predicated on efficiency.
The future of family law may just mean a move away from the courts to other dispute resolution platforms, and a nuanced family court process that is more streamlined and efficient. Nevertheless, while understanding the future of family law is intricate, developing and dynamic, for many, the future is now. If you believe your family law matter requires urgent attention by the courts, please do not hesitate to contact Andreina Minicozzi at Devry Smith Frank LLP to have your rights assessed and protected.