Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family

Publications

The Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family authored numerous books, studies and research reports between its establishment in 1987 and its termination in 2018, many of which are available from this website, the funders of specific projects and online. This website will close in 2020, following which the Institute's public writing will only be available from the University of Calgary Library. Please update your bookmarks.

All of the Institute's public writing may be saved, copied, reused and redistributed without the need to seek permission from the Institute or the individual authors.

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Recent Publications

Children's Participation in Justice Processes: Survey of Justices on Alberta's Court of Queen's Bench

Authors Bertrand, L.D.
Paetsch, J.J.
Boyd, J.-P.E.
Date August 2018
Précis This study is the follow-up to a survey conducted by the Institute of participants in its 2017 national symposium on children's participation in justice processes and examines the results of a survey of justices on Alberta's Court of Queen's Bench. The project was intended to obtained judges' opinions on the importance of obtaining children's views in court proceedings which affect them, the best ways of obtaining those views, and the extent to which judges have had experience soliciting the views of children. The study concludes with a number of recommendations for hearing children's views.
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An Evaluation of Alberta's Mandatory Early Intervention Case Conferencing Pilot Project

Authors Bertrand, L.D.
Paetsch, J.J.
Boyd, J.-P.E.
Date August 2018
Précis Alberta’s Court of Queen’s Bench has implemented a pilot project requiring early intervention case conferences in certain family law cases. The pilot project is one of the Court’s responses to the increasing numbers of litigants without counsel, the short complement of the bench relative to the province’s population and the increasing delays until family law cases can be tried. The pilot project is intended to promote access to justice for families in Alberta by providing a means for families to have their family law cases heard expeditiously and settled efficiently. This report evaluates the project to determine whether it is meeting its goals, provide insights into what is working and what could be improved, and provide evidence to help the Court determine whether the project should be implemented as a permanent component of the family law litigation process.
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Client and Lawyer Satisfaction with Unbundled Legal Services: Conclusions from the Alberta Limited Legal Services Project

Author Boyd, J.-P.E.
Date August 2018
Précis This study is Canada's first evaluation of clients' and lawyers' satisfaction receiving and providing unbundled legal services, also known as limited scope legal services. It discusses the creation and outcomes of the Alberta Limited Legal Services Project and the extent to which unbundled legal services improve clients' ability to access justice, and makes a number of recommendations intended to improve the delivery of unbundled services. This research was funded in part by the Law Foundation of Ontario's Access to Justice Fund.
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An Evaluation of the Aspire Legal Access Initiative

Authors Paetsch, J.J.
Bertrand, L.D.
Date July 2018
Précis This report evaluates the Aspire Legal Access Initiative, a program, unique in Canada, intended to provide law school graduates with intense articles in family law while improving access to family law legal services for Calgarians with incomes too high to qualify for legal aid but too low to hire private counsel. The report concludes that clients were generally satisfied with services received and that stakeholders were very supportive of the program, and makes a number of recommendations intended to help ensure that the program operates as intended.
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Summary Legal Advice Services in Alberta: Survey Results from the First Two Years of Data Collection

Authors Bertrand, L.D.
Paetsch, J.J.
Date May 2018
Précis This report analyzes data collected from 7,963 surveys of clients of Calgary Legal Guidance, Edmonton Community Legal Centre, Lethbridge Legal Guidance and Central Alberta Community Legal Clinic between February 2016 and January 2018. The vast majority of clients indicated that they were very satisfied or satisfied with the information and advice they received. Almost two-thirds of clients received a written summary of the lawyer’s advice, and those receiving a summary were more likely to agree that they understood their legal rights and responsibilities, their legal options and the pros and cons of those options, and what to do next to address their legal problem.
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A Brief Overview of Bill C-78, An Act to Amend the Divorce Act and Related Legislation: Part II

Author Boyd, J.-P.E.
Date June 2018
Précis This document provides an overview of the amendments to the Divorce Act proposed in Bill C-78 touching on the Convention on the International recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance, the Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Cooperation in Respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children, and the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act.
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A Brief Overview of Bill C-78, An Act to Amend the Divorce Act and Related Legislation: Part I

Author Boyd, J.-P.E.
Date May 2018
Précis This document provides an overview of the key amendments to the Divorce Act proposed in Bill C-78, tabled in Parliament on 22 May 2018, other than those touching on international agreements and treaties. It describes the provisions of the bill regarding terminology, the duties of spouses and counsel, the best interests of children, parenting orders and contact orders, the relocation of spouses and children, the inter-jurisdictional variation of support orders and child support calculation services
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Findings from the Evaluations of Years 1, 2 and 3 of the Priority Prolific Offender Program

Authors Paetsch, J.J.
Bertrand, L.D.
MacRae-Krisa, L.D.
Boyd, J.-P.E.
Dates March 2013
February 2015
August 2017
Published May 2018
Précis These reports describe the findings of the Institute's evaluations of the Priority Prolific Offender Program over three years. The Program is a project of the Alberta Ministry of Justice and Solicitor General, undertaken in partnership with the Calgary Police Service, Edmonton Police Service and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. It aims to improve collaboration among police, Crown prosecutors, corrections and social services to increase supervision, timely and meaningful responses to reoffending, as well as services that support the rehabilitation among the small proportion of the offending population who commit the most crimes. The results obtained when examining offenders' behaviour before, during and after the Program were extremely positive and strongly suggestive of the efficacy of the Program in having a positive effect on offenders not only during their time in the Program, but after deselection as well. Across all Program locations, and for both substantive and administrative offences, the number of new convictions among Program participants was substantially lower than in the five years prior to Program.
Download Year 1: PDF
Year 2: PDF
Year 3: PDF

An Evaluation of the Cost of Family Law Disputes: Measuring the Cost Implication of Various Dispute Resolution Methods

Authors Paetsch, J.J.
Bertrand, L.D.
Boyd, J.-P.E.
Date December 2017
Published March 2018
Précis This study describes the results of a survey of family law lawyers and their views of the use of collaborative processes, mediation, arbitration and litigation in family law disputes. The study provides valuable insights into the costs of these processes, how long cases take to resolve, and lawyers’ perceptions of their efficacy. It suggests that most lawyers are using, and prefer to use, dispute resolution processes other than litigation to resolve family law disputes. Four-fifths of respondents use mediation, almost two-thirds use collaboration, and almost one-third use arbitration. Moreover, almost all lawyers surveyed agree that people should attempt to resolve their dispute through another process before litigating, and almost three-quarters agree that, except in urgent circumstances, people should be required to attempt to resolve their dispute through another process before litigating. Three-quarters of lawyers also agreed that litigation should only be used as a last resort, when other dispute resolution processes have failed. In light of today's straitened budgetary resources, the findings from this study provide information that is useful for policymakers and program developers in identifying best practices in cost-effective dispute resolution methods.
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Perceptions of Polyamory in Canada

Author Boyd, J.-P.E.
Date December 2017
Précis This report presents a detailed analysis and discussion of the data collected from a national survey undertaken in the summer of 2016. It examines the sociodemographic attributes and attitudes of people identifying as polyamorous, the composition of polyamorous relationships and perceptions of polyamorous relationships in Canada, with the goal of obtaining a better understanding of the prevalence and nature of polyamory to inform the development of family justice policy and legislation. It is the second Institute report on polyamory, the first of which focused on the application of the law on domestic relations to those involved polyamorous relationships.
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Record of Proceedings: Symposium on Children's Participation in Justice Processes, Calgary, 14, 15 & 16 September 2017

Author Boyd, J.-P.E.
Date January 2018
Précis This document is the record of proceedings of Children’s Participation in Justice Processes: Finding the Best Ways Forward, a two-day national symposium, held in Calgary in September 2017, that brought together a multidisciplinary spectrum of leading stakeholders to share information and dialogue about how the voices of children and youth are heard, how their interests are protected and how their evidence is received in justice processes. The record contains the Program Guide, the PowerPoint slides presented at the conference, workshop scribes' notes and presenters' summaries of outcome, and a digest of the key themes and recommendations emerging from the workshops.
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The Development of Parenting Coordination and an Examination of Policies and Practices in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta

Authors Bertrand, L.D.
Boyd, J.-P.E.
Date December 2017
Précis This paper reviews the development of parenting coordination in the United States and its adoption in Canada, as well as the findings of the research available to date on parenting coordination, its efficacy in resolving parenting disputes, its efficacy in steering such disputes out of court and its impact on parental conflict. It discusses the practice of parenting coordination in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario, compares processes and training standards in those provinces, and makes recommendations for the practice of parenting coordination in Alberta, and in Canada generally.
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Children's Participation in Justice Processes: Finding the Best Ways Forward, Results from the Survey of Symposium Participants

Authors Paetsch, J.J.
Bertrand, L.D.
Boyd, J.-P.E.
Date December 2017
Précis Children’s Participation in Justice Processes: Finding the Best Ways Forward was a two-day national symposium that brought together a multidisciplinary spectrum of leading stakeholders to share information and dialogue about how the voices of children and youth are heard, how their interests are protected and how their evidence is received in justice processes. The symposium, which was held in Calgary in September 2017, was organized by the Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family and the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate, and gave the Institute a unique opportunity to survey an informed and involved pool of participants regarding their perceptions and experiences with children’s participation in justice processes. This report presents the final results of our survey of symposium participants. The findings from the results are discussed, and recommendations are made for moving forward.
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Successfully Parenting Apart: A Toolkit

Authors Canadian Bar Association Family Law Section
Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family (prepared by Boyd, J.-P.E.)
Date April 2017
Précis This toolkit organizes and consolidates online and print resources and offers guidance, information, referrals and resources for resolving parenting challenges post-separation in ways most effective for children. It is intended to increase family law lawyers’ awareness of the best available information to better assist parents in transforming their relationship from being a couple to being successful co-parents. As the first point of contact for many separating parents, effective lawyers need to be aware of the best practices and social science on family restructuring, and should be equipped to easily direct parents to quality resources for further guidance and information. The toolkit is available for download in PDF and commercial printing formats.
Download Link (Canadian Bar Association website will open in a new window)

The Practice of Family Law in Canada: Results from a Survey of Participants at the 2016 National Family Law Program

Authors Bertrand, L.D.
Paetsch, J.J.
Boyd, J.-P. E.
Bala, N.
Date October 2016
Précis This study analyzes the results of a survey of more than 200 lawyers and judges attending the 2016 National Family Law Program, a high-profile, four-day biennial conference organized by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, on current issues in the practice of family law in Canada. Subjects addressed in the study include participants' views of and experiences with: court-attached family justice programs; hearing the views of children; issues in custody and access disputes; issues in disputes about child support and spousal support; family violence; unified family courts; and, the use of limited scope legal services in family law disputes.
Download English: PDF
Français: PDF

Polyamorous Relationships and Family Law in Canada

Author Boyd, J.-P. E.
Date April 2017
Précis This paper provides a discussion of polyamorous relationships, the legal distinction between relationships that are polyamorous and marriages that are bigamous and polygamous, and how polyamorous relationships are and are not accommodated by the domestic relations legislation of Canada's common law provinces. The paper includes an initial analysis of a study by the Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family on perceptions of polyamory in Canada, the demographics of Canadian polyamorists and their attitudes toward their relationships. The paper concludes with a number of recommendations directed to family law lawyers dealing with polyamorous clients, including the establishment of specialized practice associations to share knowledge and develop expertise on the unique legal needs of polyamorous families.
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Parenting Assessments and Their Use in Family Law Disputes in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario

Authors Suche, Z.
Boyd, J.-P. E.
Date July 2017
Précis The use of mental health assessments for the purpose of decision-making in parenting disputes has become relatively commonplace in Canadian family law disputes. These assessments, also called “custody and access reports” and “bilateral assessments,” are usually requested when the views and opinions of an independent expert are needed to help separated parents or the court determine the parenting arrangements that are in the best interests of minor children. This paper reviews practice and procedure in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario, and examines: the extent to which these assessments are used and relied upon in courtroom decision-making; and, whether there is a relationship between the cost of private assessments and the frequency of their use in these jurisdictions.
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