March 23, 2010
FREDERICTON (CNB) - A new bilingual website, Family Law NB, was launched today, providing New Brunswickers with a new way to work through the family justice system.
For those who prefer to hear information rather than read it, Family Law NB has a selection of short Ask an Expert videos that explain how the courts work, court rules, and procedures and tips for preparing for court.
There are Frequently Asked Questions and publications that explain the law in the areas of separation, divorce, custody, access and support. Separating parents can learn about alternatives to court as well as programs and services to lessen the effect of separation on children. In addition, there has been an improvement to the Family Law Information Line: 1-800-236-2444.
Kelly Lamrock, minister of justice and consumer affairs and attorney general, praised the Public Legal Education and Information Service of New Brunswick (PLEIS-NB) for leading this project.
"More people than ever are attempting to use the family justice system without representation," said Lamrock. "While education is clearly not the only answer, it plays an important role in the process. The goal of this project is to help make the experience of self-represented family law litigants less stressful and more effective, while lessen the amount of time that court staff and judges take attempting to educate individuals who are handling their family law applications. This will increase the efficiency of the court process for everyone."
For the first time, New Brunswickers will have access to annotated family law forms for many legal proceedings. These forms may be completed electronically or printed off and filled in by hand. There are examples of completed forms alongside each form. For those who do not have a printer, the forms are available from any Service New Brunswick office for a small fee.
"With the support of the Department of Justice and Consumer Affairs, we will be hiring a family law information officer who will provide the public with general information about family law forms and court procedures," said Deborah Doherty, executive director, PLEIS-NB.
Doherty noted the website neither replaces a lawyer nor offers legal advice. It helps individuals understand the general process for starting a family law action such as applying for a divorce and changing a child support order.
"It will certainly help individuals to take ownership of the process, and in many straightforward cases, to complete the paperwork themselves," she said.
PLEIS-NB collaborated with an advisory committee of family law experts, including representatives from the Department of Justice and Consumer Affairs; the Law Society of New Brunswick; the Canadian Bar Association; the New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women; and law schools. Various groups and stakeholders shared their suggestions. Justice Canada funded the project.
PLEIS-NB is a registered charity that educates the public about the law. It receives funding and in-kind support from Justice Canada, the New Brunswick Law Foundation and the Office of the Attorney General of New Brunswick.
MEDIA CONTACTS: Deborah Doherty, executive director, Public Legal Education Information Service of New Brunswick, 506-453-5369; Marc Belliveau, communications, Department of Justice and Consumer Affairs, 506-453-4138.