Vol. 145, No. 6 — March 16, 2011
SOR/2011-59 March 3, 2011
ARCHIVED — Regulations Amending the Central Registry of Divorce Proceedings Regulations
P.C. 2011-266 March 3, 2011
His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Justice, pursuant to subsection 26(1) of the Divorce Act (see footnote a), hereby makes the annexed Regulations Amending the Central Registry of Divorce Proceedings Regulations.
REGULATIONS AMENDING THE CENTRAL REGISTRY OF DIVORCE PROCEEDINGS REGULATIONS
1. Section 5 of the Central Registry of Divorce Proceedings Regulations (see footnote 1) is amended by adding the following after subsection (4):
(5) A notification referred to in subsection (3) is valid for a period of six years beginning on the day on which it is sent.
(6) If the divorce proceeding has not been discontinued or dismissed or if no judgment granting the divorce in respect of the divorce proceeding has taken effect, the central registry, on the request of the appropriate registrar, shall renew the notification referred to in subsection (3) and send the renewal of the notification to the appropriate registrar.
(7) Any renewal of a notification referred to in subsection (3) may be in the form of an endorsement on the registration form, on a separate notice or in electronic form and is valid for a period of six years beginning on the day on which it is sent.
2. The Regulations are amended by adding the following after section 8:
9. For the sole purpose of record keeping by the central registry, a divorce proceeding shall be presumed, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, to be discontinued, if the central registry does not receive Part 2 of the registration form or any request for renewal of the notification, by the end of the six-year period referred to in subsection 5(5) or (7).
COMING INTO FORCE
3. These Regulations come into force on the day on which they are registered.
REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT
(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)
Issue and objectives
In 1970, the Central Registry of Divorce Proceedings (CRDP) was established within the Department of Justice through regulations made pursuant to the Divorce Act, paragraph 26(1)(a). The role of the CRDP was to detect duplicate divorce actions and to assure applicants for divorce that the court in which they had started proceedings had jurisdiction to hear and determine their matter.
At the time of submitting an application for divorce to the Court, the parties themselves, their lawyers or court clerks must complete Part 1 of the Registration of Divorce Proceedings Form and submit it to the registry where it is recorded in a database. All historical and current divorce files found in the database are then searched to detect any duplication of proceedings. Roughly 70 000 divorce applications are processed annually. Duplicates are detected on average in 5–10% of all divorce applications. If there is no duplication, a Clearance Certificate is issued to the court, which allows the petition to proceed.
When there is duplication, the CRDP advises both courts and awaits the resolution of the jurisdictional issue. When one court discontinues the action, the CRDP issues a Clearance Certificate to the other. Once the divorce is granted or the divorce proceeding is discontinued, it is the sole responsibility of the appropriate registrar to complete Part 2 of the Form and submit it to the CRDP, where the final disposition is recorded along with some case characteristic information. Until Part 2 of this Form is received at the CRDP, the divorce file remains outstanding in the CRDP database.
There are over 300 000 outstanding Part 2 Forms dating back as far as 1970 when the registry was first established, and the number continues to grow. The reasons for these outstanding Forms are (1) the divorce is not yet complete; (2) the application has been discontinued but no one has reported this and closed the file; or (3) the appropriate registrar did not complete and submit the Part 2 Form after the court issued a decision on the divorce application.
In the past several years, there have been increasing delays by the courts in completing the Part 2 Form after the divorce has been granted or the action has been discontinued. Clearing up the backlog with respect to discontinued cases would be a labour intensive process for which there are no resources. Therefore, the number of outstanding Part 2 Forms has grown over the years and the CRDP has no way at present to know whether the divorce action was completed.
The impact of the growing number of incomplete Part 2 Forms increases the workload of the search function for duplicate divorces. These amendments allow the CRDP to presume that a divorce proceeding has been discontinued if it does not receive the Part 2 Form within six years after the notification referred to in subsection 5(3) of the Central Registry of Divorce Proceedings Regulations (Regulations) was sent. The objectives of the amendment are
- to alleviate the backlog of pending Part 2 Forms, and
- to promote the timely completion of future Part 2 Forms.
Description and rationale
In order to address the issue of the growing backlog of pending Part 2 Forms, the amendment allows the CRDP to presume, for the sole purpose of record keeping by the CRDP, that where Part 2 of the Form has not been received on a pending application, within six years after the notification referred to in subsection 5(3) of the Regulations was sent, the divorce proceeding is discontinued. This will result in files of divorce proceedings being maintained for a period of not less than six years and accordingly limit the validity of a Clearance Certificate to six years. In the rare case, where the divorce proceeding is still active after six years, the CRDP, on the request of the appropriate registrar, will renew the notification referred to in subsection 5(3) of the Regulations. Even without a renewal, divorce proceedings will not be affected as jurisdiction is already assured. It is only the divorce statistics kept by the government that are affected. When the action is completed and the Part 2 Form is filed, the statistics will then be amended.
The amendments will result in some cost savings to the federal government as a result of reducing both staff and computer program time. It will also ensure that the CRDP can continue to operate more efficiently in the long term.
Discussions between Justice Canada and provincial and territorial officials were held. There was unanimous support for automatically deeming outstanding Part 2 Forms as discontinued. Additionally, the proposed time period of six years is not expected to have an impact on the divorcing parties as the average length of time it takes to process a divorce is two and half years. Further, the appropriate registrar may request a renewal of the notification referred to in subsection 5(3) of the Regulations, in the rare case of a divorce proceeding taking longer than six years.
Family, Children and Youth Section
Department of Justice
R.S., c. 3 (2nd Supp.)