Families in dispute resolution are now required to take part in mediation before being able to move into court proceedings.

The practice has been seen in some communities but is now moving province-wide.

"Mandatory dispute resolution empowers families to address issues before they go to court,” Justice Minister and Attorney General Bronwyn Eyre said. “This program, implemented as a pilot in Prince Albert in 2020 and Regina in 2021, has been effective in reducing the financial and emotional impacts of separation and divorce on families and their children.”

John Seargeant, Family Mediator with Bridges Communication Group here in Moose Jaw, says this is a positive change. 

"The family law process will focus back on the child and help them," says Seargeant. "It will benefit children and families by reducing conflict, it will promote communication and cooperation between parents, alleviating the pressure that is on the court system right now." 

He says this will improve the family law experience for everyone involved in the justice system. 

The court process tends to deteriorate the relationship between parents, and this change will help families learn to communicate and solve conflict before stepping into the courtroom. 

"This change will help us see the family unit more intact," says Seargeant. 

The judicial system is extremely backed up, so this change will also help alleviate some pressure on the court. 

People can apply with the court for an exemption if there has been interpersonal violence, a parent has abducted a child from the other parent, or there is some other urgency. The change went into effect on July 1.

Low-income options are also offered by the government. Recognized service providers may provide reduced rates or pro bono services.

With files from Scott Boulton.