Friday, September 19, 2014


By Ray Ferris, (This piece is one of a series Ray will write here.)

Lawyers and the adversarial culture of family court.
Another thing that has developed since the enactment of the CF&CSA is that the use of lawyers has increased tremendously. Now that proper training in the act has become uncommon, the social workers rely on legal advice for every function. Interviews with clients have become so adversarial that they are often conducted with counsel present. This intimidates clients to the point where they feel they too must have an advocate present. It should be obvious that the legal profession and the courts have a very old tradition of being adversarial. It is also well known that the more adversarial the culture, the more financial benefit goes to lawyers, so they have little incentive to negotiate. The adversarial culture is so deeply ingrained into the legal profession and the judiciary that they seem unable to think in a different way. They just cannot help it. This culture now permeates the family court and processes have become as formal and adversarial as criminal court. The informality allowed in the act is soon forgotten.

It has often been said that courts do not dispense justice, but they dispense law. Family courts do not protect child welfare, they dispense process. This process often becomes so lengthy that child welfare gets drowned in process. No wonder many people are now wondering whether the family court is no longer suitable for deciding protection cases. Ways and means should be sought to have cases heard before some sort of panel of experts and only sent to court if unavoidable.

Ferris retired after a career that included significant years with the MCFD. He has written a book entitled 'The Art of Child Protection.' You can order Mr. Ferris' book entitled 'the Art of Child Protection' by contacting the author directly at


  1. Well said Mr Ferris. If I may add a point. It is common in child protection proceedings for the MCFD to dredge up and or create "incidents" (past present and even the future!) during the period of proceedings with the slightest potential of placing the parent in an unfavorable light to the court. Thus the court, must be ever mindful in differentiating between those incidents that contain grounds for the removal under section 13 of the CFCSA and those brought forth solely for the purposes of discrediting (provoking, destroying, wearing out....) the parent.

    thank you for the Blog Ron!

    1. Thank you for the appreciative note & I am sure Ray is pleased that his work is being read.


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