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About Family Law Manitoba

Family law is about the rights and responsibilities within families. It applies when the dynamics of families change, (e.g., new marriage or common-law relationship, separation or divorce. It applies to the legal relationships and responsibilities adults have towards children, including adoption, care, and protection. It also includes financial responsibilities former partners or spouses may have to each other and how property is divided upon separation.

How are we modernizing family law?

Couples and families who wish to separate or get a divorce, settle child custody, spousal or child support and property matters are heavily dependent on the courts. The current court-based system can be adversarial, complex, expensive and slow. For many, it is inaccessible and unaffordable.

Family breakdown is a difficult process to navigate, complicated by a system that is legally focused, often costly and does not always consider the social, relational and financial needs of the people who are most affected. Public, private and community services exist, but are hard to find, and could be better coordinated to offer families a range of choices that suit their personal needs.

We are committed to make a difference in the lives of Manitobans by modernizing our family law system to make it simpler, less adversarial, and less damaging for families and children.

Manitoba Justice cannot address this challenge alone. We are working with clients and service providers across public, private and voluntary sectors to co-design a new family law system. Manitobans have asked for out-of-court options that support them in making decisions and resolving their family law matters collaboratively while meeting the unique needs of families. Government processes should be simple to understand, easy to go through and affordable.

This approach is shaping how we move forward. We have introduced legislation, The Family Law Modernization Act, to set the framework for improvement. It was passed in June 2019 and has already resulted in significant changes.

By modernizing family law, we aim to improve access to justice while reducing the social cost of conflict caused by divorce and separation. To achieve this, we are focusing on improving access to service, improving the range and relevance of services and aligning efforts across sectors.

Some legislative changes under The Family Law Modernization Act are already in effect, while others will come into effect over the coming months. Manitobans will see changes to government programs, supports, and services that will complement the new legislation. Manitobans can also expect improved partnerships with community. To stay up-to-date on how we are modernizing family law, visit our Status Update page.