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.