Family courts in Canada

Tyumen State University Herald. Social, Economic, and Law Research


2015, Vol. 1. №2(2)

Family courts in Canada

About the author:

Dmitry V. Kniazev ,
Head of the Department of Civil Procedure Law, Western-Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Justice (Tomsk), Candidat of Law


The article deals with family courts in Canada. Fragmented jurisdiction over family law matters (due to the Constitution of Canada), when family disputes are resolved by courts of different levels (federal and provincial), initially was the main reason for creating unified family courts (UFC). Most of Canadian provinces have specialized courts for family disputes. There are special procedural rules applied in family courts for family law issues. These rules have some peculiarities, e.g. less use of conventional adversary documents (pleadings), widespread use of simple court forms, especially online ones, typically rules are simplified, and court meetings have unofficial nature. Alternative procedures generally have priority over formal court proceedings. There are traditional procedures like mediation, negotiation, and special ones such as Family Justice Counselors. There is a tendency to make UFCs act as special hubs with family services designed to help disputants.


1. The Constitution Act, 1867, 30 & 31 Vict, c 3. URL: (date of access: 27.06.2014).

2. Hausegger, L., Hennigar, M., Riddell, T. Canadian Courts: Law, Politics, and Process. Oxford University Press, 2009.

3. Meaningful Change for Family Justice: Beyond Wise Words. Final Report of the Family Justice Working Group of the Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters, April 2013. URL: (date of access: 27.06.2014).