FROM ADVOCATE DAILY: Bonkalo report focuses too much on paralegals, not on other solutions

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Bonkalo recommendations fail to address larger issues

From AdvocateDaily this week:

The Family Legal Services Review focuses too much on the expanded use of paralegals without considering other potential fixes to the system, says Ottawa family lawyer Timothy N. Sullivan.

Sullivan, principal of SullivanLaw, says the report by former Ontario chief justice Annemarie Bonkalo is problematic because it proposes paralegals take on some responsibilities of family law and not others. But the larger issue, he says, is there are potential solutions not addressed by the report.

In her report to Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney General, Bonkalo suggested a specialized licence for paralegals to provide specific family legal services without the supervision of lawyers. She recommended those services include custody and access issues, simple child support cases, restraining orders and straightforward divorce matters that don’t involve property issues.

“The recommendations fall within the report’s terms of reference, but they are probably deficient in accomplishing the task of having more people represented in court,” Sullivan tells AdvocateDaily.com. “The focus was how to get paralegals into the family law system.”

There have been long-standing concerns in family law about the rise of self-represented litigants — estimated at 57 per cent in 2014-15 — resulting in reduced access to justice for members of the public. But people wading into the often foreign territory of a courtroom without the guidance of a lawyer are also blamed for bogging down an already taxed system.

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FROM ADVOCATE DAILY: All Families Are Equal Act

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Children and same-sex parents to be protected by Ontario law

Ontario law is catching up with the increase in same-sex parents this week.

From the Canadian Press via Advocate Daily:

Ontario parents who conceive their children using assisted reproduction will get more legal rights as laws that require same-sex couples to adopt their own children are being updated.

The Liberal government is introducing the All Families Are Equal Act today, which would update a parentage law that hasn’t been changed since 1978.

Some LGBTQ parents and others who are not biologically related to their children often need to go to court to be legally recognized as parents.

But the new legislation would ensure all couples who use assisted reproduction to conceive, including the use of a surrogate, are legally recognized as parents.

In an interview with AdvocateDaily.com, Ottawa family and litigation lawyer Timothy N. Sullivan says the proposed legislation is an example of how laws must continually adapt to protect children and parents.

“While it should be easier to name a bone fide parent to a child conceived outside of the more traditional manner, it cannot be a free-for-all,” says Sullivan, principal of SullivanLaw. “Children need to have the protection and certainty of the law and parents need to have the moral and legal obligations of parenthood identified and respected.”

 

To read the rest of the article, click here.