A new project aims to reduce the backlog of separation and divorce matters awaiting resolution in B.C.’s family courts.
Launched by Access Pro Bono Society of B.C., the Provincial Court and the Ministry of Attorney General, the Virtual Family Mediation Project involves use of B.C.-based technology startup, Qase.
It’s for a pilot project for online family mediations involving low- and modest-income families in the court’s early resolution process.
“The Qase platform will dramatically improve the timeliness and reach of our services as we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by serving critical legal needs with the safety of online connections,” Access Pro Bono executive director Jamie Maclaren said.
“Our lawyers, frontline staff and clients will all benefit from the cutting-edge technology,” Maclaren said. “We look forward to using it to improve access to justice during the late stages of the pandemic and far beyond.”
It’s long been recognized by the judicial system that separation and divorce can be time-consuming and costly processes for families. Further, it’s accepted that resolving family relationship breakdowns in court can also be traumatizing.
Maclaren said the pandemic has amplified such negative experiences, has increasing delays and other barriers to swift resolution in an already overburdened justice system,
“We know that having to go to court to resolve family law issues, such as child support or parenting time, can have a significant negative impact on families,” said Attorney General David Eby. “By taking those issues out of the courtroom where possible, this project will lead to better outcomes for families, reducing stress and help them deal with matters more quickly and efficiently."
Eby said the project shows how technology can improve access to justice and deliver a system that better supports the needs of British Columbians.