N.B. gets family law website

A new website has been set up to help people navigate New Brunswick's family court system.

A new website has been set up to help people navigate New Brunswick's family court system.

FamilyLawNB.ca is the idea of the Public Legal Education and Information Service of New Brunswick, and is meant to help educate New Brunswickers about what has been described as a chaotic family law system.

Getting legal help, which otherwise might be too expensive, is now a few clicks away, Deborah Doherty, service executive director, said Tuesday.

"They couldn't afford a lawyer, or they didn't qualify for legal aid and they had no alternative but to try to navigate the family justice system by themselves," Doherty said. "That's where people go wrong. The new website helps explain those procedural points, as well as providing legal forms." 

Doherty said the service will also help explain the family court works, court rules and procedures.

For the first time in New Brunswick, Doherty said, every family law form from applying for a divorce to applying to change a child support order will be online. They can be filed electronically, or filled out online and then printed.

If people don't have access to a printer, she said, the forms can be obtained at Service New Brunswick offices for a small fee

Brenda Noble is one of six lawyers who helped prepare a report on access to family justice last year, and setting up a website was one of their recommendations.

The website will help alleviate the pressure on the system, at least a little bit, she said.

"I don't think it's going to be the sole answer, but for the 40, 50, 60 per cent of self-represented people, it certainly will be a huge help," Noble said.

Attorney General Kelly Lamrock has announced a pilot project will be rolled out in Saint John later this spring to help speed up the process of resolving family disputes.

He also said legislation would be introduced to help ease the strain on the court system.