As reported by theToronto Star, as of July 18 spouses across Ontario seeking a divorce will first have to go through a mandatory information session sponsored by the Ontario Government.
The sessions,which launched earlier this year at pilot sites at family courts in Milton and Brampton, require that spouses learn about the basics of mediation and other non-litigation divorce resolution options from family lawyers, personnel from community organizations, and other professionals.
Ultimately, the sessions are designed to help spouses resolve their divorce in an amicable manner – and if possible, avoid the emotional trauma, excessive costs, and stressful uncertainty of litigation. At the same time, the move by the province is intended to help reduce the overwhelming caseload burden on family courts.
However, the program, which comes with an $8 million a year tab, is not without its critics. Judith Huddart, a family lawyer and president of the Ontario Collaborative Law Federation, lamented that the sessions aren’t provided early enough in the divorce process.
Dan Couvrette, publisher of Divorce Magazine, wonders if things could start even earlier than that — such as before couples tie the knot in the first place.
“I think there should be an information session before people even get married,” Couvrette stated in an interview with the National Post. “Maybe we should give people some training on how to be in a relationship.”
Still, despite this criticism, the move is generally seen as a step in the right direction, albeit one of many that need to be taken.
“Providing quality information to spouses can help them make smart and practical decisions and that are in the best interests of their children,and that lead to a civilized divorce,” Couvrette added.