Elizabeth Hyde, Riverdale Mediation Ltd. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Jared Norton, Empowerment Practices Ltd. (email@example.com)
FDRIO’s Parenting Coordination Section has created Ontario’s only professional designation for Parenting Coordinators. The FDRP PC is the a critically important designation because the practice of PC is still new to Ontario and is not governed by a separate statute or practice direction as in many other jurisdictions. Until the creation of the FDRP PC, there was no formal standard of practice to guide those doing this important and challenging work. Our section works closely with other organizations in Ontario and elsewhere to learn how to adapt and evolve our designation.
A Parenting Coordinator (the PC) is usually a mental health professional or lawyer who has experience with high conflict families, child development, family systems and patterns of domestic violence, as well as specific training in the unique dispute resolution process of Parenting Coordination.
The PC’s role is to help the parties minimize parental conflict. PCs do this in two ways. The first is an educative function – helping parents develop more effective problem-solving and communication skills, and educating them about relevant child development principles. Secondly, PCs assist parents with the successful implementation of their Parenting Plan. If there is a dispute with respect to the Plan, the PC will try to mediate an agreement between the parties. If that fails, the PC will gather all necessary information from the parents and from any other necessary sources and make a binding decision that is in the best interests of the child.
It is important to note that PCs do not make decisions about legal custody, mobility or parenting schedules; the jurisdiction of a PC is derived from their separation agreement, court order or arbitration award. PC is known as ‘secondary arbitration’ under the Family Law Act, and, like mediation and arbitration processes, requires that the parties are screened first by the PC for power imbalances including family violence to ensure that the situation is appropriate for this process.
Our PC section is actively engaged in reviewing and continuously updating the Standards of Certification for Ontario’s first Parenting Coordination designation. We also hosted the first Parenting Coordination Forum as part of FDRweek; generate commentary on case law affecting parenting coordinators, and provide content for newsletters, webinars and other learning opportunities for PCs.
To the Parenting Coordination Section, FDRIO members must:
- have completed, or be in the process of completing, any of the following: a 40-hour course in family mediation, 40-hour course in family arbitration, a basic or advanced parenting coordination course and a 21 hour course in screening for power imbalances and family violence;
- maintain professional liability insurance with a minimum of $1,000,000 coverage per occurrence and $2,000,000 coverage in the aggregate;
- commit to observe the Standards of Practice of FDRIO and the Parenting Coordination Section including the Screening Guidelines;
- comply with the continuing education requirements of their professional discipline; those prescribed by the Attorney General of Ontario on its website for family arbitrators; and those prescribed by the Parenting Coordination Section