News Release Archive

JUSTICE--Legislation Focuses on the Family
Justice Minister Alan Mitchell today introduced two bills, one
designed to streamline the area of family law by creating a
family law division of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court, and the
other to provide guidance to parents in determining child support

The Judicature Act will be amended to create a Family Division of
the Supreme Court.   Currently, jurisdiction over family matters
is divided between the family court (provincially appointed
judges) and the Supreme Court (federally appointed judges). The
amendments will unify the jurisdictions of the two courts under
the Family Division.

Nova Scotia officials have been consulting with the federal
Department of Justice on phasing in the unified court. The
federal government will appoint and pay judges of the new court.

The province will direct money saved in salaries toward new and
improved services within the family law justice system. These
include education programs on post-separation parenting, family
mediation services and counselling.

"The elimination of the two-tiered court system will
substantially reduce the cost of litigation in family law matters
and should reduce court time needed," said Mr. Mitchell. "We feel
these are positive steps in reducing the tension and legal costs
families must bear during what is an emotionally distressing

The Family Maintenance Act will also be amended to allow for
implementation of  the federal Child Support Guidelines. The
guidelines, based on average costs of raising a child in Canada,
will provide a fair, objective and consistent standard in
determining levels of child support.

The guidelines will give priority to child support over other
financial obligations and ensure children continue to benefit
from the financial means of both parents after separation. By
making the calculation of child support more objective, the
guidelines should reduce conflict and adversarial litigation. 

The amendments also mean that in the calculation of child support
payments, children of unmarried parents are treated in the same
manner as children of parents who were married. As well, the
provincial family court will require those paying child support
to provide the same information as required under the Divorce
Act, which became effective May 1, 1997. By ensuring the
necessary information is available to the court earlier, the
process should be more efficient.

"These amendments put children first," said Mr. Mitchell. "We
believe the calculation of child support should be fair,
predictable and consistent, and these amendments increase
objectivity in determining the level of awards."


Contact: Michele McKinnon
         Department of Justice

gam                    Nov. 27, 1997                 2:15 p.m.