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Thoughts on Family Law for Family Day

Nabila Khan, Sabreena Delhon

Thursday, February 12, 2015

In 2013, British Columbia’s Premier Christy Clark established the province’s Family Day holiday with a throne speech that celebrated the diversity of Canadian families, “large and small; same sex; culturally diverse; foster families and adopted children; new Canadians coming to a new world; a single mother caring for her young daughter; a son caring for his aging father.” As we approach Family Day it is important to reflect on the push and pull inherent in family life, on the reality that with diverse families comes the need for informed supports that appreciate and reflect that diversity.

Whether an individual is dealing with separation, child custody and support, issues regarding property shared with their partner, or violence in the home, various organizations exist to not only provide social and psychological support, but also supports for the derivative legal issues that arise. Familial issues are part of everyday life and often have a legal aspect that isn’t always apparent to most Canadians.

Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) is working to help Ontarians recognize and respond to the legal dimensions of family based problems with their resource rich website Your Legal Rights. The site coordinates practical and easy-to-find legal information produced by hundreds of organizations across Canada. In addition to family law matters, the website features information on potentially related topics including criminal law, education law, employment law, housing law and human rights. Your Legal Rights also features news, events announcements and details about upcoming public education webinars.

Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney General (MAG) also provides free and accessible legal information. MAG’s clear language resources focus on family justice services such as family arbitration and processes for separation and divorce. There is also up to date information about how to access support from Family Law Information Centres and organizations such as the Canadian Paediatric Society.

Legal Aid Ontario provides details about numerous specialized legal clinics. These clinics provide legal information, counseling and legal representation to low-income individuals in need of particular services. These clinics work to reflect the diversity of Ontario’s families by providing services such as multilingual interpretation.

The creation of a more accessible family law system is a work in progress but this Family Day let’s reflect on the great strides that have been made in our province and across the country to reflect the diversity of our families.