Province launches service to help families settle disputes out of court

The provincial government has launched a new service to give families access to tools to help them settle disputes out of court. 

Government also wants to develop new IT system to modernize Manitoba courts, provide online access to records

The Manitoba government is launching a new service to help families settle disputes out of court.  (Tero Vesalainen/Shutterstock)

The Manitoba government has launched a new service to give families access to tools to help them settle disputes out of court. 

Justice Minister Cliff Cullen also announced Wednesday that the province is seeking proposals for a new case management system to help modernize Manitoba's courts.

The new service is a result of Bill 9, the Family Law Modernization Act, which was passed last year and mandated an out-of-court dispute resolution service for common-law partners. 

The service will provide families with access to front-end support and out-of-court options, including experts who can guide families on dealing with domestic violence and safety issues, conflict resolution, and family law and court proceedings. 

The service will also help people access culturally and linguistically appropriate services, and give people support for meeting any prerequisites for court.

"Our government is committed to making Manitobans' family law system simpler, less adversarial, and most importantly less damaging for families and in particular our children," Cullen said at a news conference Wednesday morning.

Changes under the Family Law Modernization Act that come into effect July 1 will also give the justice department's child support recalculation service the authority to make initial child support decisions in some cases, such as changes in employment, without requiring families to go to court, the news release says.

Modernizing court system 

In addition, the province is looking for a company to develop a new IT system for its courts. Cullen said there are currently 20 different information technology systems used throughout Manitoba's courts, which are not integrated well and are mostly paper based. 

The aim is a new system that will reduce reliance on paper, provide the public and stakeholders with online access to court records, and share real-time information updates. 

Having one integrated system is expected to "revolutionize" how the court system works in Manitoba, Cullen said.