News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

June 24, 2020

PROVINCE LAUNCHES NEW FAMILY RESOLUTION SERVICE TO ENHANCE ACCESS TO FAMILY LAW



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The Manitoba government is launching the first phase of a new single-window Family Resolution Service that will ensure family law services are more accessible and affordable to Manitobans, Justice Minister Cliff Cullen announced today. 
 
“Couples and families who are separating are currently dependent on the court system, which can be adversarial, complex, expensive and slow,” said Cullen. “This can fuel hostilities and slow the resolution of disputes, which has a negative effect on the emotional and physical well-being of the participants, especially children.”
 
The new Family Resolution Service delivers a seamless continuum of affordable services to all Manitobans, and expands front-end support and out of court options. It was designed based on input from Manitobans and is supported by legislative change and service innovation, the minister said.
 
Families can now access:
early resolution support services delivered by family guides with expertise in domestic violence and safety planning, conflict resolution and mediation, family law and court processes;
navigation assistance to other culturally and linguistically appropriate specialized services, which could include a new Child Support Service, Legal Aid, expanded enforcement or other financial, legal or health and social services; 
self-service tools and a resource inventory that is searchable by region and issue; and 
support to complete any prerequisites for court.
 
The new service also allows families to access support electronically, which is particularly beneficial during the COVID-19  pandemic, the minister said. 
 
The minister also noted that changes to The Family Law Modernization Act coming into effect July 1 expand the role of the Child Support Recalculation Service and give it the authority to make initial child support decisions in a broad range of cases, such as changes in employment, without going to court. 
 
The Manitoba government also expanded the Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP) in April to help families meet the increased challenges brought about by COVID-19. The program now has authority to review and adjust maintenance as needed, and more families have been able to resolve support enforcement issues by working with the program instead of having to make court applications.
 
It is critical to note that families will still be able to pursue in-court options and appear before a judge if required, the minister added.
 
These changes are expected to take thousands of matters out of court and could result in up to $41 million in annual savings in court and legal fees for Manitoba families, noted the minister.
 
“These enhancements reflect our progress on recommendations made by Manitobans and are the latest in our ongoing efforts to modernize the family law system in Manitoba,” said Cullen.
 
Every year, approximately 3,000 to 5,000 Manitoba families are affected by separation or divorce. To read Manitoba’s Family Law Action Plan or find more information and tools, go to www.manitoba.ca/familylaw/.
 
Manitobans who do not have internet access or require additional assistance can contact a family guide by calling 204-945-2313 or 1-844-808-2313 (toll-free) or email getguidance@gov.mb.ca for a personalized response.
 
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