June 25, 2010
DIEPPE (CNB) - New Brunswickers in the seven other judicial districts of the Court of Queen's Bench will receive enhanced access to family court services similar to those provided under the Saint John family law pilot project that gets underway next week.
Justice and Consumer Affairs Minister Bernard LeBlanc announced the investment in enhanced services today.
"I am pleased to announce the government's investment in enhanced family justice services," said LeBlanc. "This is an important step in upgrading access to the family justice system. Improvements will be seen and felt through-out all of New Brunswick."
It has been proposed that the $1.3-million enhanced family justice services strategy remain in place over the same three-year period as the Saint John pilot, making it possible to evaluate and compare both service delivery models.
The interim strategy consists of the following integrated components:
Family advice lawyers: Community-based family advice lawyers will be available to provide a free legal consultation service for people referred from Court Services. They will help self-represented litigants to understand their rights and obligations, the Family Court process, as well as help to complete forms.
Mediation services: Also community-based, this service will focus solely on mediation and will also include a specialized service to help those in need of child support and child support variations. The service will be time-limited, providing up to 10 free hours of mediation for multiple issues such as custody, access and support. For cases in which child support is the only issue, a special one-hour conciliation service will be available.
Enhanced client services support: New administrative service officers will be added in each of the seven judicial district court offices to allow Court Services to carry on normal functions while supporting the new family justice services. This additional administrative support will enable Court Services to help unrepresented parties locate the appropriate information and services, including the new community-based mediators and family advice lawyers.
In addition to the integrated family justice plan, duty counsel services will be restored in family courts in all eight judicial districts, including Saint John.
The family court duty counsel service will be available starting Thursday, July 1. All other services will be in place by Wednesday, Sept. 1.
MEDIA CONTACT: Marc Belliveau, communications, Department of Justice and Consumer Affairs, 506-453-4138.