THE SURVEY OF CHILD SUPPORT AWARDS: INTERIM ANALYSIS OF PHASE 2 DATA
(October 1998 to March 2000)
PART 1: DIVORCE AND THE PROCESSING OF CHILD SUPPORT ORDERS (continued)
Given the qualitative nature of the information used to produce this part of the report and the limitations of the study (identified in section 2.2 above), it is difficult to draw firm conclusions. However, descriptions of the processes of divorce and child support orders across Canada lead us to some broad conclusions and some insight into what might be important for the successful implementation of the Federal Child Support Guidelines. Four general observations derived from the information in this report are briefly discussed below.
Progress Towards Full Implementation
Based on site visits and follow-up telephone interviews, it is clear that staff at the study sites are strongly committed to full implementation of the Guidelines. While the rapid change and the variation in the rate of change from jurisdiction to jurisdiction make it difficult to study the implementation of the Guidelines, such variation itself permits us to draw valuable information.
Jurisdictional Differences in the Process
All divorces in Canada are governed by the Divorce Act, and there is basically one general divorce process as described in Figure 4.1. However, the report highlights a number of issues related to the varying availability of information and legal services and the varying procedures that can affect how a couple may experience the divorce process. Further, the report highlights the importance of administrative supports (such as FLIC staff checking applications in Edmonton) to ensure consistent treatment of spouses and children. These factors vary among study locations and even within some jurisdictions. Therefore, the processing of divorce cases varies widely in different parts of the country.
More consistency in the treatment of cases involving children is one of the objectives of the Guidelines. How various aspects of the divorce process increase or decrease consistency should be an important component in any review of the Guidelines.
Importance of Administrative Procedures
This report documents the importance of using standardized administrative procedures in implementing the Guidelines. Particularly important is the use of standardized court order forms to collect and list Guidelines information. In locations where standard procedures and forms have been implemented, use of the Guidelines is virtually universal.
Importance of Having Judges Committed to the Process
At sites where key judges actively support the Guidelines, implementation seems to be occurring faster. Practice directives from Chief Judges seem to be very effective in supporting use of the Guidelines. The trend toward the implementation of unified family courts also seems to contribute to adoption of the Guidelines.
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