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 is hosting 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 features keynote speakers Sheldon Kenney and Dr. Nicole Sherren and be 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 will be held in the afternoon of 14 September 2017.

Registration for the symposium is now open and the block of rooms reserved for the symposium at the Hyatt is now available for booking. A draft agendum is now available on the symposium website, as well as a current list of presenters and workshop topics.

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.

Perceptions of Polyamorous Relationships
Expected completion, phase one: 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.

International Review of Public Legal Assistance Programs
Expected completion: summer 2017

We are reviewing legal aid programs in Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and the United States in order to determine program funding models, the nature and extent of services provided, and income and other eligibility requirements. Our report will identify the unique features of those programs and any services that might be usefully adopted by legal aid programs in Canada.

Alberta Court File Review
Expected completion: June 2017

The Institute has been granted access to the Alberta data collected for the Federal Justice Court File Review on families undergoing divorce or separation and will be analyzing variables concerning custody and access, child support and spousal support. Multiple data sets have been received from the federal government, and we are currently reviewing the data and deciding on a data analysis strategy.

Successfully Parenting Apart: A Toolkit
Completed: February 2017

We have been contracted by the Canadian Bar Association to develop a list of curated internet resources to help people parent their children after separation. Subjects that will be addressed include the effect of conflict on children, minimizing conflict and improving communications between parents, developing parenting schedules and parental relocation. The report is in the final stages of translation and will be available to CBA members and their clients when complete.

Intercultural Strategy for Increasing Access to Legal Assistance in Indigenous Communities
Expected completion: June 2017

We are working with Calgary Legal Guidance, the Restorative Justice program in Maskwacis, partners in Peace River and Elders from each Band to build intercultural partnerships and strategies to increase access to the justice system in indigenous communities. The project is focused on the long-term issue of providing access to the justice system for all people, particularly in communities where there are barriers such as transportation and a lack of legal education and is funded by the Human Rights Education and Multiculturalism Fund. The public report on the results of this project is being prepared and will be available this summer.

Review of Canadian Parenting Coordination Practices
Expected completion: fall 2017

The Institute is undertaking a review of parenting coordination practices in Canada. The review will identify variance in the provincial standards of practice. The review began in late November 2015 and will be completed later in 2017.

Evaluation of the Priority Prolific Offender Program
Expected completion: May 2017

We have been contracted by Alberta Solicitor General and Public Security to conduct an evaluation of the Priority Prolific Offender Program, a partnership project of Calgary Police Services, Edmonton Police Services and the RCMP. This will be the final year of the program evaluation.

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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.

Family Violence Justice Initiative
Project under development

The Institute and Calgary Women's Emergency Shelter are developing a proposal to conduct a study about the coordination of legal services in northwestern Alberta women's shelters, in partnership with the Alberta Council of Women's Shelters.

Case Conference Pilot Project Assessment
Project under development

The Institute is developing a proposal to assess the outcomes of an early case conferencing pilot project in family law cases in a superior court registry. The proposal would 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.

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