Act Supports Expanded Specialized Family Court

Changes to the Judicature Act will help give Nova Scotia families improved access to a single, specialized court for all family law matters.

In most areas of the province, family law matters are heard in either the family court or the Supreme Court and sometimes in both courts. For example, one family may have their parenting issues addressed at family court and their property issues addressed at the Supreme Court. This division can be a challenge for families undergoing a separation.


The Supreme Court Family Division, a unified family court, offers a range of programs and support services to families. The combination of a specialized court and enhanced services can help families resolve issues more efficiently.

    “Nova Scotians experiencing separation or divorce should not be burdened with the added stress and confusion of dealing with two separate courts,” said Mark Furey, Minister of Justice and Attorney General. “The expansion of the unified family court is part of our commitment to providing Nova Scotians with a justice system that is supportive and responsive to their needs.”

The separate court system can also create confusion, contribute to delays in processing cases and result in duplication or higher legal expenses.

“Access to a single court process is essential to an effective family law justice system,” said Shelley Hounsell-Gray, a lawyer with Blackburn Law in Bedford, who has practised within the unified family court system for 20 years. “Working from one courthouse will make it significantly easier for those looking to obtain a resolution for all of the family law issues affecting them and their children.”

Unified family court sites currently exist in Halifax, Sydney and Port Hawkesbury. Changes to the legislation are required to allow more federal judges to be appointed to the provincial Supreme Court to support the expansion. Expanding the model across the province will ensure that all Nova Scotians have access to a single, specialized court for all family law matters.