Manitoba Commits To Significant Family Law Reform With A Focus On Wellness For Families

The Manitoba government is committing to reform the current family law system in Manitoba in order to make it more accessible, and improve wellness and outcomes for families, Justice Minister Heather Stefanson announced today. 

“The time has come for Manitoba to put families first and make changes that improve the current system for family law,” said Stefanson.  “The system can often be adversarial and irreparably damaging to families.  The experience can be especially harmful for young children.  Our government is prepared to make changes to the current model, which will greatly improve fairness and well-being for Manitobans who interact with the family law system.” 

Stefanson also announced Allan Fineblit will chair an advisory committee comprised of representatives from the Court of Queen’s Bench, family lawyers and community leaders.  Fineblit is an accomplished lawyer and a leading expert in dispute resolution and arbitration, the minister said. 

Fineblit was the CEO of the Law Society of Manitoba for 16 years before returning to private practice in 2014 as counsel and chief operating officer for Thompson Dorfman Sweatman LLP.  Earlier in his career, Fineblit also spent nearly 20 years with Legal Aid Manitoba. 

“The current system in place for resolving family law matters does not do enough to promote the long-term wellness of families,” Fineblit said.  “It is also a system that is inaccessible and unaffordable for many Manitobans.  Finding ways to reform the family law system is an opportunity to look at a fundamental shift toward a system that focuses on collaboration and the best interests of families.” 

The committee will report back to the minister in early 2018 with a detailed framework for a new administrative model for family law.  The committee’s work will be used to inform proposed legislation that would be ready for introduction in the spring of next year, the minister added. 

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