Department of Justice Canada

Department of Justice Canada

January 24, 2014 08:41 ET

Governments of Canada and Nova Scotia Help Families Involved in High-Conflict Separation or Divorce

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Jan. 24, 2014) - Department of Justice Canada

The Government of Canada has contributed $240,350.00 to Nova Scotia for the design and development of specialized family justice services that will respond better to the unique needs of families experiencing a particularly high level of conflict related to a separation or divorce.

This project will focus on three interrelated services for families that Nova Scotia's Early Assessment Approach has identified as being high conflict: the development and implementation of an emotionally focussed education program for high-conflict parents; judicial case management with conciliator coordination; and the development of a judicial benchbook on how best to work with high-conflict families involved in family justice services.

Quick Facts

  • The funding for the project is being provided through the Supporting Families Initiative (SFI), which is administered by the federal Department of Justice. The SFI is a five-year initiative that was launched in April 2009 to:

    • Provide easier access to the family justice system for families going through a separation or divorce, particularly in ways that promote compliance with financial support and custody or access obligations; and

    • Address the needs of parents and communities facing linguistic, cultural or other types of barriers that may make it difficult to access the family justice system and ask for help.

  • As part of the SFI, the Government of Canada committed a total of $15.5 million per year over the five-year term to help the provinces and territories develop and deliver family justice services and programs for separating and divorcing families. These services and programs help separating and divorcing couples make informed decisions and resolve disputes without the need for lengthy, costly and stressful court litigation.
  • This project addresses the risk of high conflict escalating to family violence when couples separate or divorce. It also responds to many studies around the world showing that children who are frequently exposed to high conflict and family violence are more likely to have long-term physical, emotional and behavioural problems. Specifically tailored services will support high-conflict families in the justice system and help parents protect their children from on-going conflict. They will also help family court professionals address the needs of these families more effectively.
  • Experience has shown that traditional family justice services are less effective when the level of conflict between separating or divorcing couples is very high.
  • In this particular pilot project, services such as specialized parent education programs will be developed by Nova Scotia's Department of Justice in conjunction with an advisory committee of justice practitioners. Families experiencing high conflict during a separation or divorce will be referred to services that may be able to help reduce the conflict. Training workshops and materials such as best-practice manuals will be developed to help service providers, judges and court workers deal with high-conflict families.
  • Funding of this project is in line with the Government's Plan for Safe Streets and Communities, one of four priorities specified by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in January 2013, and contributes to a fair, relevant and accessible Canadian justice system.


"High conflict in families takes a serious toll on families, on the justice system, and on our society as a whole. Research tells us that children can suffer long-term consequences-and even violence-if they are exposed to high conflict in their family. We want to help prevent this. Our Government is committed to promoting the safety of families going through a separation or divorce and help them focus on the best interests of their children."

  • Peter MacKay, P.C., Q.C., MP for Central Nova, Minister of Justice and Attorney General

"Most parents can resolve their differences constructively during a breakup -- but some can't. The High Conflict Information Program will help families learn better ways to deal with their conflict, and help their children through the breakup. It will also help keep them out of court when they don't need to be there."

  • Randy Delorey, MLA for Antigonish, Nova Scotia Minister of Environment, on behalf of Lena Diab, MLA for Halifax Armdale, Nova Scotia Minister of Justice. "

Associated Links

- Divorce and Separation

- Family Justice Services

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Contact Information

  • Paloma Aguilar
    Press Secretary
    Office of the Minister of Justice

    Media Relations Office
    Department of Justice