Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Help in Custody Disputes matters available online

January 10, 2012



A new guide offering tips and information to help grandparents and other family members understand the court process related to applying for access to minor children is now available online, Family Services and Consumer Affairs Minister Gord Mackintosh announced today.
“Manitoba modified the Child and Family Services Act to address grandparents’ rights to apply for access and this guide helps explain the options that are available,” said Mackintosh.  “Separation and divorce can be tough on everyone and it’s important that, where appropriate, any extended family member has the chance to remain in contact with a child.”
The guide is intended for people who want to have legal access to a child but who are not the parents of that child.  This may include grandparents, step-parents or other members of a child’s family and, in exceptional circumstances, people who are not family members but who have had a significant and close relationship with a child.
“Grandparents have told us the guide will clear up confusion about the court process and help them make informed decisions about whether they need to hire a lawyer,” added Mackintosh.  “We’ve already heard they are happy to see the guide online and ready for use.”
The guide was written particularly to address the interests and concerns of grandparents and has information on topics such as:
  • options for access without going to court (family conciliation or mediation);
  • what to expect from the court process and how to prepare;
  • potential costs and options such as representing yourself; and
  • personal tips from grandparents who have gone through the process to gain access to their grandchildren.
Manitoba is the only province to offer grandparent advisor services and First Choice, a special program that works with high-risk families and helps them through an alternative dispute resolution process, Mackintosh said, adding Manitoba families have welcomed the variety of programs designed to reduce conflict and demand for many of these programs has doubled over the past decade.  The service has helped with 352 cases since 2006 and handled almost 1,000 requests for information or support.
Under the Grand Relations initiative, the For the Sake of the Children course was made mandatory for those contesting custody and expanded to more regions of the province.   Manitoba Family Services and Consumer Affairs has partnered with Manitoba Justice in a number of areas to ensure the process moves more smoothly and with as little impact to children as possible, the minister said. 
The guide is available at and is intended only as a guide.  It is not a substitute for the experience, knowledge and expertise that a lawyer can provide, Mackintosh said.
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