In designing the PC certification, we considered that Ontario is different from other jurisdictions. In particular, there is no legislation nor court direction for parenting coordinators in Ontario, unlike many of the other jurisdictions that we looked to when creating the designation. Our team of experienced parenting coordinators considered the AFCC Parenting Coordination Guidelines and the training standards required in British Columbia for certified parenting coordinators. They adapted what was being done elsewhere to meet our needs in Ontario.
Parenting Coordination is perhaps the most challenging of all forms of FDR. The function is complex. It incorporates elements of every other form of FDR, plus requires a strong grounding in family relations theory and managing high conflict personalities. We also considered that other jurisdictions with PC designations, British Columbia in particular, have high standards of training for the designation and believed that FDRIO should seek to emulate the highest standards.
Research shows that the main challenge faced by parenting coordinators who are not lawyers is in the arbitration component of the process. Even lawyers find it imposing to manage the flow between facilitation, mediation and arbitration in the PC process. As well, in Ontario, the PC process can be “closed”, meaning there is no report to the court. For these reasons, our advisory team felt strongly that all PCs should have a solid understanding of family arbitration law and process.
This is one of the advocacy projects that FDRIO will be taking on. We believe that the role of the PC will be enhanced with the support of legislation. Right now, the PC Agreement is the only set of rules governing the relationship between the family and the PC. There is no statutory or other protection for and definition of the PC role. We hope that will change in the near future.
Our team was led by:
Pursuant to Standard 3 of the Family Dispute Resolution Institute of Ontario, “FDRIO,” Standards of Practice, FDR Professionals shall do no harm. The Parenting Coordination Section values the importance of screening parties for coercion and control, domestic violence, power imbalance, and other matters that may affect their capacity to participate. Accordingly, the members of the Parenting Coordination Section commit to screening in accordance with the following Guidelines.
Purpose of Screening
- Screening is a process by which FDR professionals identify, assess and manage power imbalances in their processes, including a risk of harm arising from family violence. It is the responsibility of parenting coordinators to ensure that they incorporate reliable screening protocols into their FDR processes. Screening should be done to assess readiness to proceed and ability to participate safely and effectively, and must include such sources of power imbalance as coercion and control, a history of violence, addiction, substance abuse, mental health, and other matters the PC deems appropriate.
Screen All Participants
- The Parenting Coordinator (“PC”) shall screen all prospective participants themselves.
- Screening will always occur in person rather than by telephone or online unless it is not feasible to do so.
- Screening must be done before the parties sign a Parenting Coordination Agreement and continuously throughout the process.
Training and Insurance
- The PC must have received a minimum of 21 hours in training for screening by a trainer whose course has been approved by FDRIO, OAFM, or ADRIO, or a trainer whose course otherwise meets their standards.
- The PC must satisfy the continuing training requirements of the Attorney General of Ontario, which currently requires ten hours of continuing education/training every two years of which half must be on domestic violence.
- The PC will carry professional liability insurance for Screening.
Screen Parties Separately
- The PC will screen both parties separately.
Screening of Clients by Their Own Lawyers is Not Sufficient
- Appropriate screening by counsel for clients is not a substitute for screening by the Mediator-Arbitrator or Screening Professional, even if the counsel have taken the required Screening training.
- At the outset of screening, the PC will inform each party of the purpose of the meeting and assure them that the information provided will be confidential, in particular, it will not be revealed to the other party nor their counsel, and the limits of confidentiality, in accordance with Standard 5 of the FDRIO Standards of Practice.
- The PC will segregate the screening notes and Report (if any) from the remainder of the file.
Parenting Coordination Agreements
- All PC agreements shall include:
- a section on screening that describes the screening process followed by the PC and which incorporates the provisions of this Policy;
- An acknowledgement by each party that they have been screened; and
- A provision that all notes, records, communications, reports, and other documents relating to the screening process are confidential and will neither be disclosed to anyone other than the PC, nor provided to the court, nor referenced in any court documents, unless otherwise required by law or order of the court.
Screening Instruments or Tools
- The PC will be familiar with the range of currently used screening instruments and tools and know whether and how to use them. If appropriate, they will utilize an appropriate screening instrument or tool, the inventory of which is extensive and must be updated from time to time.
Designing a Safe Process and Referrals for Safety Planning
- PCs shall be familiar with the ways of planning a safe process for those who are proceeding, the resources in their communities that support vulnerable participants, the principles of and protocols for safe termination of processes, and the the resources available in their community to assist parties in making safe and effective process choices in addition to or instead of the PC process.
Screening Notes and Reports
- The PC will determine whether the parties are appropriate for the PC process and the terms and conditions of the process as they deem necessary.
- The PC will inform the parties and their lawyers of the results of the screening process in a way that they deem safe to avoid any adverse consequences for either party.
Refer to Screening Notes Throughout the PC Process
- The results of the screening process will be taken into consideration by the PC at all times during the PC process. If circumstances arise during the PC process that give rise to any risk of harm arising from power imbalances, the PC will pause the process and conduct an updated screening interview with each party.