Alberta's family lawyers continue to wait for the Federal government to appoint new judges, while crisis-level delays erode access to justice.
Heather Fraese, a family lawyer practicing in Calgary, summarized the crisis as follows: "if you had separated a year ago and were ready to go to trial today, you should expect to wait 6 months for a simple divorce trial, and up to 26 months if the issues are complex. If you cannot wait, a private mediation or arbitration is your only option."
Alberta has the fewest judges per capita in Canada. While the province's population has grown dramatically, the number of judges has not. In addition, judges have not been replaced as they have retired, resulting in a number of vacant positions. The problem is particularly acute in the major cities of Calgary and Edmonton, where court resources have fallen far behind rapid population growth.
The Province of Alberta has recognized the issue and on October 20, 2016, announced the creation of 10 new positions for the Court of Queen's Bench. However, the Federal Government has not yet acted to fill these positions or a number of existing vacancies at the Court. Taking the new positions into account, there are now 15 vacant positions, nearly a quarter of the total number of positions.
The judge shortage has caused systemic delays at every stage of the divorce process, leaving individuals and families with no recourse in the public court system. At the same time, there has been a boom in private mediations and arbitrations. For those who can afford (and agree on) these solutions, justice is available, but at a price.
Davidson Fraese Family Lawyers joins the Canadian Bar Association and the judges of the Court of Queen's Bench in calling on the federal government to appoint a further 15 judges to the Court of Queen's Bench to file existing vacancies and new positions.
About Davidson Fraese Family Lawyers
Davidson Fraese Family Lawyers is boutique family law firm. The firm's family and divorce lawyers have focused experience in divorce, property, parenting and support claims. For more information, visit DavidsonFraese.ca.
Inquiries may be addressed as follows:
Davidson Fraese Family Lawyers
Suite 1450, 421 7 Ave SW
Calgary, AB T2P 4K9
Phone: (403) 460-1230
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