Reducing costs: Luke’s Place submission on Ontario’s family court review
In this second post from the Luke’s Place submission on Ontario’s family court review by Parliamentary Assistant to the Attorney General, we consider the review’s goal of reducing the cost of the court process to families and taxpayers.
Consider the victim in reducing costs
Any steps to reduce the cost of the family court process must prioritize the needs of the most vulnerable of those involved with the process. In particular, this includes victims of family violence and their children.
Assessment of cost needs to incorporate an analysis of not just money spent on the initial case but also the cost – financial and other – of poor outcomes.
For example, when a victim of family violence is unrepresented, the outcome of the case may leave them and their children exposed to ongoing abuse, up to and including death. (Ontario’s Domestic Violence Death Review Committee has noted, repeatedly, that women are at highest risk of being killed by their partner at the time of separation, which is also when many of them are embarking on a family law case.)
A poor outcome may mean the victim must return to court to seek an amendment to or enforcement of the initial order, whether that is an order with respect to the custody and access of children, support, property division or safety.
Abusers often manipulate both the court process and court orders, which can result in both lengthening the proceedings and increasing costs. The victim should not be penalized because of the abuser’s behaviour by any measures implemented to reduce costs.
Tomorrow’s post will offer suggestions for streamlining family court processes which can also aid in reducing costs.