Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family

Publications

The Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family has authored numerous books, monographs and research reports since its establishment in 1987, many of which are publicly available from the Institute, the funders of specific projects and online. Please contact the Institute for information about the availability of listed publications without hyperlinks. Please visit the Current Projects page to read about our work in progress and projects under development.

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Hot Off the Press

Findings from the Evaluations of Years 1, 2 and 3 of the Priority Prolific Offender Program

Authors Paetsch, J.J.
Bertrand, L.D.
MacRae-Krisa, L.D.
Boyd, J.-P.E.
Dates March 2013
February 2015
August 2017
Published May 2018
Précis These reports describe the findings of the Institute's evaluations of the Priority Prolific Offender Program over three years. The Program is a project of the Alberta Ministry of Justice and Solicitor General, undertaken in partnership with the Calgary Police Service, Edmonton Police Service and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. It aims to improve collaboration among police, Crown prosecutors, corrections and social services to increase supervision, timely and meaningful responses to reoffending, as well as services that support the rehabilitation among the small proportion of the offending population who commit the most crimes. The results obtained when examining offenders' behaviour before, during and after the Program were extremely positive and strongly suggestive of the efficacy of the Program in having a positive effect on offenders not only during their time in the Program, but after deselection as well. Across all Program locations, and for both substantive and administrative offences, the number of new convictions among Program participants was substantially lower than in the five years prior to Program.
Download Year 1: PDF
Year 2: PDF
Year 3: PDF

An Evaluation of the Cost of Family Law Disputes: Measuring the Cost Implication of Various Dispute Resolution Methods

Authors Paetsch, J.J.
Bertrand, L.D.
Boyd, J.-P.E.
Date December 2017
Published March 2018
Précis This study describes the results of a survey of family law lawyers and their views of the use of collaborative processes, mediation, arbitration and litigation in family law disputes. The study provides valuable insights into the costs of these processes, how long cases take to resolve, and lawyers’ perceptions of their efficacy. It suggests that most lawyers are using, and prefer to use, dispute resolution processes other than litigation to resolve family law disputes. Four-fifths of respondents use mediation, almost two-thirds use collaboration, and almost one-third use arbitration. Moreover, almost all lawyers surveyed agree that people should attempt to resolve their dispute through another process before litigating, and almost three-quarters agree that, except in urgent circumstances, people should be required to attempt to resolve their dispute through another process before litigating. Three-quarters of lawyers also agreed that litigation should only be used as a last resort, when other dispute resolution processes have failed. In light of today's straitened budgetary resources, the findings from this study provide information that is useful for policymakers and program developers in identifying best practices in cost-effective dispute resolution methods.
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Perceptions of Polyamory in Canada

Author Boyd, J.-P.E.
Date December 2017
Précis This report presents a detailed analysis and discussion of the data collected from a national survey undertaken in the summer of 2016. It examines the sociodemographic attributes and attitudes of people identifying as polyamorous, the composition of polyamorous relationships and perceptions of polyamorous relationships in Canada, with the goal of obtaining a better understanding of the prevalence and nature of polyamory to inform the development of family justice policy and legislation. It is the second Institute report on polyamory, the first of which focused on the application of the law on domestic relations to those involved polyamorous relationships.
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Record of Proceedings: Symposium on Children's Participation in Justice Processes, Calgary, 14, 15 & 16 September 2017

Author Boyd, J.-P.E.
Date January 2018
Précis This document is the record of proceedings of Children’s Participation in Justice Processes: Finding the Best Ways Forward, a two-day national symposium, held in Calgary in September 2017, that brought together a multidisciplinary spectrum of leading stakeholders to share information and dialogue about how the voices of children and youth are heard, how their interests are protected and how their evidence is received in justice processes. The record contains the Program Guide, the PowerPoint slides presented at the conference, workshop scribes' notes and presenters' summaries of outcome, and a digest of the key themes and recommendations emerging from the workshops.
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The Development of Parenting Coordination and an Examination of Policies and Practices in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta

Authors Bertrand, L.D.
Boyd, J.-P.E.
Date December 2017
Précis This paper reviews the development of parenting coordination in the United States and its adoption in Canada, as well as the findings of the research available to date on parenting coordination, its efficacy in resolving parenting disputes, its efficacy in steering such disputes out of court and its impact on parental conflict. It discusses the practice of parenting coordination in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario, compares processes and training standards in those provinces, and makes recommendations for the practice of parenting coordination in Alberta, and in Canada generally.
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Children's Participation in Justice Processes: Finding the Best Ways Forward, Results from the Survey of Symposium Participants

Authors Paetsch, J.J.
Bertrand, L.D.
Boyd, J.-P.E.
Date December 2017
Précis Children’s Participation in Justice Processes: Finding the Best Ways Forward was a two-day national symposium that brought together a multidisciplinary spectrum of leading stakeholders to share information and dialogue about how the voices of children and youth are heard, how their interests are protected and how their evidence is received in justice processes. The symposium, which was held in Calgary in September 2017, was organized by the Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family and the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate, and gave the Institute a unique opportunity to survey an informed and involved pool of participants regarding their perceptions and experiences with children’s participation in justice processes. This report presents the final results of our survey of symposium participants. The findings from the results are discussed, and recommendations are made for moving forward.
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Successfully Parenting Apart: A Toolkit

Authors Canadian Bar Association Family Law Section
Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family (prepared by Boyd, J.-P.E.)
Date April 2017
Précis This toolkit organizes and consolidates online and print resources and offers guidance, information, referrals and resources for resolving parenting challenges post-separation in ways most effective for children. It is intended to increase family law lawyers’ awareness of the best available information to better assist parents in transforming their relationship from being a couple to being successful co-parents. As the first point of contact for many separating parents, effective lawyers need to be aware of the best practices and social science on family restructuring, and should be equipped to easily direct parents to quality resources for further guidance and information. The toolkit is available for download in PDF and commercial printing formats.
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The Practice of Family Law in Canada: Results from a Survey of Participants at the 2016 National Family Law Program

Authors Bertrand, L.D.
Paetsch, J.J.
Boyd, J.-P. E.
Bala, N.
Date October 2016
Précis This study analyzes the results of a survey of more than 200 lawyers and judges attending the 2016 National Family Law Program, a high-profile, four-day biennial conference organized by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, on current issues in the practice of family law in Canada. Subjects addressed in the study include participants' views of and experiences with: court-attached family justice programs; hearing the views of children; issues in custody and access disputes; issues in disputes about child support and spousal support; family violence; unified family courts; and, the use of limited scope legal services in family law disputes.
Download English: PDF
Français: PDF

Polyamorous Relationships and Family Law in Canada

Author Boyd, J.-P. E.
Date April 2017
Précis This paper provides a discussion of polyamorous relationships, the legal distinction between relationships that are polyamorous and marriages that are bigamous and polygamous, and how polyamorous relationships are and are not accommodated by the domestic relations legislation of Canada's common law provinces. The paper includes an initial analysis of a study by the Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family on perceptions of polyamory in Canada, the demographics of Canadian polyamorists and their attitudes toward their relationships. The paper concludes with a number of recommendations directed to family law lawyers dealing with polyamorous clients, including the establishment of specialized practice associations to share knowledge and develop expertise on the unique legal needs of polyamorous families.
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Parenting Assessments and Their Use in Family Law Disputes in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario

Authors Suche, Z.
Boyd, J.-P. E.
Date July 2017
Précis The use of mental health assessments for the purpose of decision-making in parenting disputes has become relatively commonplace in Canadian family law disputes. These assessments, also called “custody and access reports” and “bilateral assessments,” are usually requested when the views and opinions of an independent expert are needed to help separated parents or the court determine the parenting arrangements that are in the best interests of minor children. This paper reviews practice and procedure in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario, and examines: the extent to which these assessments are used and relied upon in courtroom decision-making; and, whether there is a relationship between the cost of private assessments and the frequency of their use in these jurisdictions.
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Featured Publications

Comparing the Views of Judges and Lawyers Practicing in Alberta and in the Rest of Canada on Selected Issues in Family Law: Parenting, Self-represented Litigants and Mediation

Authors Boyd, J.-P.E.
Bertrand, L.D.
Date April 2016
Précis This report examines the results of our survey of attendees of the National Family Law Program 2014, and compares the views of Alberta respondents with those from the rest of Canada on a number of issues, including parenting after separation, self-represented litigants and their access to justice, and mediation. The report notes some striking differences between the views and experiences of Alberta practitioners and those from elsewhere in Canada. Alberta practitioners are more likely to: have cases resulting in shared custody or shared parenting; support the amendment of the Divorce Act to use terms such as parenting responsibilities and parenting time; have cases involving self-represented litigants; support mandatory information programs for self-represented litigants; and, support the use of paralegals to improve access to justice for self-represented litigants.
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Pathways and Transitions of Persistent Youth Offenders in Alberta: Final Report

Authors MacRae-Krisa L.
Bertrand, L.D.
Paetsch, J.J.
Rinquist, L.
Date March 2014
Précis This report summarizes the findings of a four-year study of pathways and transitions of persistent youth offenders in Alberta. The overall objectives of the study were to understand the factors that differentiate persistent youth offenders who offend into adulthood from persistent youth offenders who desist, understand these factors in a developmental context, and provide focussed information to develop and improve multi-sectoral prevention and intervention initiatives.
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