The Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario has contracted with the University of Baltimore School of Law's Center for Families, Children and the Courts to prepare this research paper. The purpose of the paper is to provide an overview of unified family courts and court-connected family services in two jurisdictions, Maryland and California, as agreed to by officials of the Ministry. The overview provides information about the structure of each jurisdiction's unified family court, family services connected to the court, the role of judicial and quasi-judicial officers, the assignment and specialization of the judiciary, rules or processes to deal with backlog and high conflict cases, and geographical challenges. In addition, the paper discusses trends in the development of unified family courts and court-connected family services in Maryland and California, including a focus on common issues or experiences faced by these courts, and it highlights the method and scope of relevant evaluations conducted within these jurisdictions. Finally, the paper summarizes some of the experiences of Maryland and California that may be of interest to Ontario as it moves forward in the development and refinement of its family justice system.
An Analysis of Unified Family Courts in Maryland and California: Their Relevance for Ontario's Family Justice System, 24 Canadian Fam. L. Q. 25 (2005)