New Saskatchewan Legislation to Propose Required Attempts at Reconciliation
Recently, new legislation has been proposed in Saskatchewan that will require couples that are seeking to separate or divorce to have a last crack at reconciliation before heading to court. In practice, couples will be required to show that they have attempted reconciliation through one of four methods: mediation, family arbitration, parent coordination, or collaborative practice.
The motivation of these changes are two-fold. First, the family court system is piled up, with many couples unfortunately having to wait nearly six months for a pre-trial settlement conference. A common goal amongst individual’s divorcing is speed and finality. Through the traditional court process, these goals are difficult to achieve and often leads to client frustration. Second, the opportunity for individual’s to proceed pragmatically with their settlements without the aid of a judge allows for more interest-based outcomes, which ultimately lead to a better sense of finality.
Although the reconciliation of a couple is a preferred outcome during any separation, it is worth noting that within the context of this new legislation, the term “reconcile” does not imply the couple attempting to ‘give it another shot’ as a couple, but more of an attempt to restore friendly relationships so that the separation can proceed in an amicable manner (herein referred to as ‘conciliation’). History has shown that legislation cannot force a couple to try and ‘work it out’ as most couples commencing divorce proceedings have already attempted to do so. Additionally, Canada does hold a required one-year separation period that serves as a time of cooling off and reflection for said couple.
It is unknown at this point whether this new legislation will have a similar outcome to that of previously required ‘conciliation’ methods (i.e. the couple becoming more frustrated due to the requirement to pursue methods that they feel will make no difference to their present situation), or if it will indeed cause more couples to obtain a divorce quickly and more pragmatically.