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Innovative dispute resolution services to benefit Surrey families

A new model to help families with mediation and conflict resolution is being expanded to Surrey. 

Building on the success of the Victoria Early Resolution and Case Management Model introduced in 2019, the early resolution process is being expanded to the Surrey court registry at the request of the chief judge. The model helps people resolve family law matters by providing information, assessment and consensual dispute resolution. Where appropriate, it helps family members reach agreement without going to court. When court is required, it helps identify and narrow the issues and prepare the parties for court. 

“The expansion of this project to Surrey is a significant step in the transformation of family justice in British Columbia,” said David Eby, Attorney General. “By helping people resolve their disputes earlier and with less conflict, we’re keeping the focus on the best interests of families and children.”

The model provides services to families in a less adversarial environment. In Victoria, it has reduced court time and the number of matters brought to court for family disputes. To launch the new model, effective Dec. 7, 2020, the Surrey registry will adopt the early resolution aspects of the new Provincial Court Family Rules in addressing parenting arrangements, child support, contact with a child, guardianship of a child, spousal support, relocation and protection from family violence. 

The Surrey Justice Access Centre will provide an initial needs determination and an assessment with a family justice counsellor. The assessment will identify legal and non-legal issues and determine whether it is appropriate for the individual to participate in consensual dispute resolution. Parties may be referred to free parenting education and, if appropriate, at least one free consensual dispute-resolution session through the Justice Access Centres and Family Justice Centres. Alternatively, people may hire private mediators or collaborative law professionals. People seeking orders for priority parenting matters or protection orders on a time sensitive basis will proceed directly to court. 

The new process supports earlier and more durable resolutions, which reduces conflict and builds skills that can help prevent future conflict. 

Learn More:

Find out more about the Victoria Early Resolution and Case Management Model: www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/life-events/divorce/family-justice/your-options/early-resolution

New Provincial Court Family Rules being implemented in May 2021: https://www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/id/bcgaz2/bcgaz2/v63n10_120-2020

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