Screening Before Mediation, Arbitration and Parenting Coordination – A Brief Overview
by FDRIO member, Kathryn d’Artois
When a relationship breaks down, clients have several choices about the process they use to discuss and settle the legal issues that flow from the separation, including parenting rights and responsibilities, child support, spousal support and the division of their property. They may decide to:
- negotiate on their own;
- consult with lawyers for advice;
- retain lawyers to negotiate on their behalf;
- participate in mediation either on their own or with their lawyers at the table;
- participate in a collaborative family law process;
- hire an arbitrator to hear their evidence and decide any issue(s) that they are
unable to resolve through negotiations;
- go to court; and / or
- engage the services of a parenting coordinator to work with them over an extended period of time to interpret and implement their parenting plan and resolve ongoing disputes about parenting issues.
Being screened for domestic violence, power imbalances and capacity to participate in process is an important component of mediation, arbitration and parenting coordination. Screening is crucial because it allows the professionals who facilitate discussions between separated parties in mediation or who make decisions about each party’s legal rights and obligations to ensure that clients who participate in private dispute resolution processes do so voluntarily and have the emotional and cognitive capacity to make informed decisions about how specific legal issues are resolved. Screening is also a mechanism that designed to ensure that clients are emotionally and physically safe before, during and after all dispute resolution processes. No formal screening is required for court proceedings to take place.