Thomas Dart

Partner, Family Law

Not too many people are aware that Judges who sit in family court are not necessarily specialized in the area of family law. Under the current system, due to lack of judicial resources, Judges are appointed to the Bench from all different legal backgrounds. Some practised criminal law, some corporate commercial, some wills and estates, some were general practitioners, some were civil litigators and some were family lawyers prior to their appointments.  No lawyer and indeed no Judge can be a specialist in all aspects of law in this day and age. So often when you appear in family court, you may not have a Judge whose specialty is family law. Judges are very dedicated to public service and they will learn as fast as they can, but the reality is that some simply don’t have the training or the background to fully appreciate the many nuances that are involved in a family court matter. 

In a recent blog we did report on the initiative by Supreme Court of Canada Justice, the Honorable Beverly McLachlin. Under her influence,  Justice Thomas Cromwell has prepared a report on access to family justice. A full copy of the report of his Action Committee on Access  to Justice in Civil and Family Matters can be found at

One of his most important recommendations is the establishment throughout each Province of a specialized family court with specialized family court judges.

His report is not being ignored in Ontario.  A number of professional organizations from all areas connected with family law problems have begun meeting to see what can be done about implementing the many excellent recommendations contained in this welcome report. 

We shall keep you posted as this important report gains recognition.