Highlights

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  • The family court caseload in seven reporting provinces and territories grew slightly (+1%) in 2009/2010 to almost 330,000 cases. Increases in the caseload, composed of both new cases initiated during the year and cases ongoing from a previous year, were seen in five of the seven reporting provinces and territories.

  • Divorce and other family breakdown cases represented 70% of the family court caseload in 2009/2010. The remaining 30% involved adoption, child protection, civil protection, enforcement, guardianship and other family matters.

  • In general, divorce and other family breakdown cases involving children, particularly those related to access and child support, remain in the civil court system longer than those without issues involving children. In 2009/2010, one-third (32%) of divorce cases involving both access and support had been in the civil court system for at least four years, more than triple the proportion of divorce cases (10%) that did not involve children.

  • Family breakdown cases involving only access tend to involve a higher number of court events than those involving only custody or child support. On average, access cases involved almost twice as many pre-trial hearings as custody or child support cases, as well as a higher average number of adjournments and judgments during the case.

  • In 2009/2010, about one in ten family court cases involving custody, access or child support had involved a trial during the case. Of those that did reach the trial stage, cases involving access and child support tended to take longer to reach trial than those involving custody.

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