Pursuant to Standard 3 of the Family Dispute Resolution Institute of Ontario, “FDRIO,” Standards of Practice, FDR Professionals shall do no harm. The Family Mediation Section values the importance of screening parties for coercion and control, domestic violence, power imbalances, and other matters that may affect their capacity to participate. Accordingly, the members of the Family Mediation 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 family mediators 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 imbalances as coercion and control, a history of violence, addiction, substance abuse, mental health, and other matters as mediators may deem appropriate.
Screen All Participants
- The mediator will screen all prospective participants for appropriateness to participate in mediation.
- Screening will always occur in person rather than by telephone or online unless it is otherwise not feasible to do so.
- Screening must be done before the parties sign an Agreement to Mediate and it must also be continually done during mediation.
Training and Insurance
- The mediator 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 mediator will satisfy the continuing training requirements of the Family Mediation Section, which currently require five hours of continuing education/training annually.
- The mediator will carry professional liability insurance for Screening.
Screen Parties Separately
- The mediator 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, even if counsel have taken the required screening training.
- At the outset of screening, the mediator 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 or their counsel, and the limits of confidentiality, all in accordance with Standard 5 of the FDRIO Standards of Practice.
- The mediator will segregate the screening notes and report (if any) from the remainder of the file.
Agreements to Mediate
- All agreements to Mediate shall include:
- A section on screening that describes the screening process followed by the mediator and 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 Mediator 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 mediator 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
- Mediators will 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 mediation.
- The mediator will determine whether the parties are appropriate for mediation subject to such terms and conditions as are deemed necessary.
- The notes of the mediator will not be shared with the parties or their lawyers.
- The mediator 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 in Mediation
- The mediator will refer to their notes on the screening process throughout the course of the mediation to determine whether, at any time, circumstances have changed in such a way that causes the mediation process to no longer be appropriate, or for the process as designed to be no longer appropriate.
- If circumstances arise during the mediation that give rise to any risk of harm arising from power imbalances, the mediator will pause the process and conduct an updated screening interview with each party.