Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family

Current Projects

The Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family is engaged in a variety of research projects relating to law and the family for funders including government and government agencies, universities, bar associations, courts, social serving agencies and the Alberta Law Foundation. This page describes our current publicly-funded projects; our completed reports, articles, papers and presentations are available in the Publications section of our website.


Work in Progress

Children's Participation in Justice Processes: Finding the Best Ways Forward
A National Symposium on Hearing the Voice of the Child in Legal Proceedings

Event: 14, 15 and 16 September 2017, Calgary AB
Expected report completion: December 2017

The Institute hosted a two-day national symposium to discuss the impact of the legal system on Canadian families, with the goal of generating innovative ideas, research priorities and best practices around the ways that children participate in the legal process, how their evidence is received and how their best interests are protected. The symposium featured keynote speakers Sheldon Kenney and Dr. Nicole Sherren and was held on 15 and 16 September 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Calgary; a special pre-symposium conference on family law in Canada for people other than lawyers and judges was held on 14 September 2017.

Visit the symposium website to learn more.

The Alberta Limited Legal Services Project
Launched: April 2017
Expected report completion: October 2018

We are working with a group of Alberta lawyers to evaluate lawyers' and clients' satisfaction with limited scope legal services, also called unbundled legal services or brief legal services. The project launched on 3 April 2017 and provides a roster of Alberta lawyers trained in and prepared to provide limited scope services. The project promotes limited scope services, the services of participating lawyers, and will collect data over an 18-month period to determine lawyers' perceptions of the profitability and enjoyability of limited scope work and clients' satisfaction with those services as an alternative to traditional start-to-finish legal representation.

Visit the project website to learn more.

Case Conference Pilot Project Assessment
Expected report completion: August 2018

The Institute is working with the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench to assess the outcomes of a mandatory case conferencing pilot project applicable to selected family law cases. The project will assess litigant satisfaction with the pilot project and attempt to determine the efficacy of early case conferencing in promoting settlement, narrowing the range and number of issues in dispute in family law cases, and reducing the number of family law cases resolved by trial.

Measuring the Cost of Implications of Dispute Resolution Processes
Expected report completion: December 2017

The Institute is evaluating the costs of a number of processes for resolving family law disputes by conducting a survey of family law lawyers and undertaking case studies of a small number of separated families. The study, requested by the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice, will compare the cost of resolving low- and high-conflict disputes through litigation to the cost of resolution through mediation, arbitration and collaborative settlement processes.

Perceptions of Polyamorous Relationships in Canada
Expected completion: summer 2017

This research project examines the demographic profile of people involved in polyamorous relationships in Canada and their views of the nature of their relationships, other people's perceptions of their relationships and the extent to which the criminal prohibitions against polygamy and bigamy impact their willingness to engage or remain in polyamorous relationships.

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Projects in Development

Adverse Childhood Experiences and High-Conflict Litigation
Project under development

The Institute is developing a project to administer a survey to users of high-traffic family law websites in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia to determine whether exposure to adverse childhood events correlates with involvement in high conflict litigation after separation. The survey would collect demographic data, administer the ten-item Adverse Childhood Experiences Questionnaire and ask a number of questions designed to predict respondents’ involvement in high conflict litigation.

Caring for Older Adults
Project under development

The Institute and the Canadian Centre for Elder Law are developing a proposal to conduct a study about the financial and care needs of older adults, and the needs of the older adults' children, when decisions about the financial, living and health care arrangements of older adults must be made. The project aims to produce a number of on- and offline resources for older adults and their children intended to assist with later in life decision-making.

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