Province announces new dispute resolution services for Victoria families
Attorney General David Eby speaks during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday April 26, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
The B.C. government says a new service unveiled Monday will help Victoria residents resolve family law issues with improved mediation and conflict resolution.
The Victoria Early Resolution and Case Management Model was developed by the provincial justice sector to provide family justice services like mediation and parenting education.
The province says it will lead to a more efficient court system by providing mediation-focused services before parties enter a courtroom.
"This model is one more way we are improving services for families in British Columbia," said B.C. Attorney General David Eby in a news release Monday.
"This new approach to resolving family disputes keeps the focus on the best interests of children and families, and could transform our approach to family justice in our province."
The model is intended to help resolve family law matters, such as child and spousal support, parenting arrangements, contact and guardianship.
Participants can call or visit the Victoria Justice Access Centre (JAC) for an assessment to identify legal and non-legal issues, the province said.
After the assessment, parties will be referred to free parenting education and, if appropriate, may participate in at least one consensual dispute resolution session and receive the services of a child support officer.
Other options are to hire private mediators or participate in a process under a collaborative law agreement.
"The Provincial Court of British Columbia strives to serve the public by providing an accessible, fair, efficient and innovative system of justice," said Susan Wishart, a B.C. court associate chief judge.
"Consistent with that approach, the court is committed to exploring initiatives, such as this one, that seek to support access to justice by providing increased tools to assist with the constructive resolution of family law disputes."
The JAC is located in the Victoria Law Courts building.
Based on the results of the Victoria model, similar projects may be rolled out throughout the province, the government said.