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Old 11-17-2005, 04:21 PM
lammie lammie is offline
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Default Ontario Bill Would Allow Appealing of Divorce Settlements

Ontario bill would allow appeal of divorce settlements
Proposed legislation follows McGuinty decision to ban sharia arbitration


Wednesday, November 16, 2005 Page A8

Hundreds of divorced couples in Ontario who reached settlements on property division and support payments through private arbitration could end up in the courts, appealing those rulings.

The Ontario government unveiled proposed legislation yesterday that would subject family-law disputes resolved through arbitration to scrutiny by the courts for the first time.

This could pave the way for divorced couples to attempt to unwind traditionally binding agreements.

The proposed legislation stipulates that family-law arbitrations must be based on Canadian law. As long as an agreement follows domestic law, Ontario residents would no longer be forced to waive their rights to appeal a ruling. The legislation would also better protect the rights of the vulnerable by requiring individuals to receive independent legal advice before agreeing to enter arbitration.

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All other resolutions of family disputes, including those based on religious principles, would no longer be considered legal.

Under the existing legislation, family arbitration matters can be based on any laws, including religious ones.

"There is one family law for all Ontarians and that is Canadian law," Attorney-General Michael Bryant said in the legislature.

Any agreement based on religious principles would amount to advice only, he told reporters. "It is not enforceable. It is legally irrelevant."

Individuals who are unhappy with an existing arbitration agreement could go to court, where the proposed laws would apply as long as that accord was initially based on Canadian law.

"If and when the legislation passes, existing arbitration agreements, in order to be enforceable, will have to be consistent with the new laws," Mr. Bryant said.

The proposed legislation follows the controversy over whether Muslims in the province should be allowed to use sharia tribunals to settle family disputes. Premier Dalton McGuinty announced last September that there will be no sharia law in the province, bringing an end to a growing public-relations crisis for his government.

"We think there's substantial law change in this bill. It's not window dressing," said Pamela Cross, legal director of the Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children.

One of the problems with the current system is that there is no public record of what goes on in private arbitration, Ms. Cross said.

Mr. Bryant came under criticism for introducing the legislation before giving the public an opportunity to provide input.

Progressive Conservative MPP Bob Runciman said in the legislature that he supports the general intent of the legislation. But he attacked Mr. McGuinty for having people "twist in the wind" and for deepening "societal divisions" by not resolving questions surrounding the fate of private arbitration sooner.

New Democrat Peter Kormos said the government has made a bad situation worse because, he argued, all family disputes should be resolved in the public courts, not in arbitration.

Mark Freiman, legal counsel for the Canadian Jewish Congress, also expressed concern about the lack of consultation by the government in drafting the legislation.

"I don't think the real impact of the legislation will become clear until we see the regulations," he said.

The CJC has said that although rabbinical courts do not hear a large number of family-law cases, it is important that members of the Jewish community can exercise their option to go to the Beit Din.

The proposed amendments to the province's existing arbitration rules also call for training and regulation of arbitrators.
Old 11-18-2005, 09:00 PM
logicalvelocity logicalvelocity is offline
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Interesting subject.

I have read about this topic. It looks like there may be a renaissance of family legal issues that could be reviewed and just go to show there is nothing final in family law.
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