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Ont. attorney general announces changes to family court

Ontario Attorney General Chris Bentley (Photo by: Charlene Close/680News)

Ontario Attorney General Chris Bentley announced changes to the family court system, Thursday.

He said the changes, which are coming in 2010, will make divorce proceedings faster, less expensive and less combative.

The new measures don’t involve any new funds, but rather a re-distribution of the province’s current resources.

But, experts said the proposed changes are a good first step but some question how far they can go without new funding.

Philip Epstein, a veteran family lawyer in Toronto, said the changes show that the government understands the system isn’t working.

He said he’s encouraged by a push toward more mediation and a streamlining of the court process, saying it could keep parents away from adversarial court battles that often harm children.

But Epstein said what’s really needed is a unified system across the province, as well as specialized judges well-equipped to handle tough cases.

Without any additional funding, she said, that’s unlikely to happen.

Georgina Carson, who chairs the family law division of the Ontario Bar Association, said one of the best ways to keep people out of court is to inform them about their options from the start.

She added the changes will keep the parties from jumping directly into the court system.

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