Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family

Current Projects

The Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family is engaged in a variety of research projects relating to law and the family for funders including government and government agencies, universities, bar associations, courts, social serving agencies and the Alberta Law Foundation. This page describes our current publicly-funded projects; our completed reports, articles, papers and presentations are available in the Publications section of our website.


Work in Progress

Children's Participation in Justice Processes: Finding the Best Ways Forward
A National Symposium on Hearing the Voice of the Child in Legal Proceedings

Event: 15 and 16 September 2017, Calgary AB
Expected report completion December 2017

The Institute will be hosting a two-day national symposium to discuss the impact of the legal system on Canadian families, with the goal of generating innovative ideas, research priorities and best practices around the ways that children participate in the legal process, how their evidence is received and how their best interests are protected. The symposium will feature keynote speakers Sheldon Kenney and Dr. Nicole Sherren and be held on 15 and 16 September 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Calgary. Download our symposium summary describing the objectives of the symposium. A call for papers will be issued in January 2017.

Visit the symposium website to learn more.

The Alberta Limited Legal Services Project
Launch: 15 March 2017
Expected report completion January 2019

We are working with a group of Alberta lawyers to evaluate lawyers' and clients' satisfaction with limited scope legal services, also called unbundled legal services or brief legal services. The project will establish a roster of Alberta lawyers trained in and prepared to provide limited scope services, promote those lawyers' services with the bar and among the public, and collect data over an 18-month period to determine lawyers' perceptions of the profitability and enjoyability of limited scope work and clients' satisfaction with those services as an alternative to traditional, unlimited legal representation.

Visit the project website to learn more.

Perceptions of Polyamorous Relationships
Expected completion, phase one: February 2017

This research project examines the demographic profile of people involved in polyamorous relationships in Canada and their views of the nature of their relationships, other people's perceptions of their relationships and the extent to which the criminal prohibitions against polygamy and bigamy impact their willingness to engage or remain in polyamorous relationships.

International Review of Public Legal Assistance Programs
Expected completion January 2017

We are reviewing legal aid programs in Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and the United States in order to determine program funding models, the nature and extent of services provided, and income and other eligibility requirements. Our report will identify the unique features of those programs and any services that might be usefully adopted by legal aid programs in Canada.

Alberta Court File Review
Ongoing project

The Institute has been granted access to the Alberta data collected for the Federal Justice Court File Review on families undergoing divorce or separation and will be analyzing variables concerning custody and access, child support and spousal support. Multiple data sets have been received from the federal government, and we are currently reviewing the data and deciding on a data analysis strategy.

Successfully Parenting Apart: A Toolkit
Expected completion January 2017

We have been contracted by the Canadian Bar Association to develop a list of curated internet resources to help people parent their children after separation. Subjects that will be addressed include the effect of conflict on children, minimizing conflict and improving communications between parents, developing parenting schedules and parental relocation.

Intercultural Strategy for Increasing Access to Legal Assistance in Indigenous Communities
Expected completion March 2017

We are working with Calgary Legal Guidance, the Restorative Justice program in Maskwacis, partners in Peace River and Elders from each Band to build intercultural partnerships and strategies to increase access to the justice system in indigenous communities. The project is focused on the long-term issue of providing access to the justice system for all people, particularly in communities where there are barriers such as transportation and a lack of legal education and is funded by the Human Rights Education and Multiculturalism Fund.

Review of Canadian Parenting Coordination Practices
Expected completion April 2017

The Institute is undertaking a review of parenting coordination practices in Canada. The review will identify variance in the provincial standards of practice. The review began in late November 2015 and will be completed in December 2016.

Evaluation of the Priority Prolific Offender Program
Expected completion March 2017

We have been contracted by Alberta Solicitor General and Public Security to conduct an evaluation of the Priority Prolific Offender Program, a partnership project of Calgary Police Services, Edmonton Police Services and the RCMP. This will be the final year of the program evaluation.

Analysis of Alberta Summary Legal Advice Clinic Evaluation Surveys
Ongoing project

The Alberta Law Foundation has asked the Institute to analyze the data being collected by summary legal advice clinics in Alberta. An initial survey is administered to clients immediately following their appointment with the clinic, and a follow-up survey is administered two months later to clients who have agreed to be contacted. We are analyzing the data collected thus far and will be reporting back to ALF. This project has to the potential to provide helpful information on the role of public legal education and information in access to justice and may guide future reforms.

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Projects in Development

Adverse Childhood Experiences and High-Conflict Litigation
Project under development

The Institute is developing a project to administer a survey to users of high-traffic family law websites in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia to determine whether exposure to adverse childhood events correlates with involvement in high conflict litigation after separation. The survey would collect demographic data, administer the ten-item Adverse Childhood Experiences Questionnaire and ask a number of questions designed to predict respondents’ involvement in high conflict litigation.

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