Has the Time Come in Ontario for E-Filing Divorce Applications?
As reported in Canadian Lawyer magazine recently on January 18, 2017 at a Law Society of Upper Canada event, Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi stated that the province of Ontario is considering allowing divorce applications to be e-filed.
This follows upon initiatives in provincial Small Claims Court during the past few years to increase digitization, through the Court Information Management System (CIMS). Enhancements have included the availability of 24-hour online services, including access to court forms, the filing of court documents, and the payment of fees online.
But as progressive as it may sound, Ontario is actually far behind other Canadian jurisdictions in this regard. British Columbia for example, has allowed for e-filing of many court documents, including those relating to many Family Law proceedings, since as far back as late 2008.
There are certainly many up-sides to broadening and facilitating the access to court processes, including the obvious one: Ease of access for Family Law litigants, who can obtain information and file documents from the comfort of their own homes.
But there could be down-sides too. For example, for those who aren’t in-the-know about legal procedures, the formal step of filing for a divorce (whether by the traditional paper route or the proposed e-filing) triggers the running of the limitation period in Ontario for claiming an equalization payment from your former spouse. So the simple act of clicking “send” could start the clock ticking on important rights, without you even knowing it.
But leaving those potential pitfalls aside, the trend towards using technology to facilitate more fulsome access to court services can only be a good thing, it seems.
What are your thoughts?