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What changes should be made to family law?

These proposals let family law lawyers discuss and vote on what changes they think should be made to the law or court procedures. The results can be viewed and shared with legislators and the Courts. The proposals put forth are written by member lawyers, and do not necessarily reflect the views of this website or its administrators. You can view more proposals or make a proposal yourself.

Proposal: Courts should be able to order Parenting Coordination in at least some circumstances
Parenting (lawyers only) - Nov 23, 2022

88% in favour out of 16 votes

Ken Proudman Executive
 view Arbitrator profile
   Edmonton, Alberta

This year AFCC has put a lot of effort into an important review of Parenting Coordination. Earlier in the year they sought feedback on a variety of issues relating to Parenting Coordination. I thought I'd bring up this potential change in particular to gauge support within the legal community.

Courts already order parents to attend counselling and mediation, which is generally in the children's best interests. Dispensing with a parent's consent to meet with a psychologist or lawyer Parenting Coordinator isn't a significant hurdle from a legal perspective. The issue has been that courts have been unable to delegate their decision-making authority absent contract or explicit legislation. I believe AFCC is already hard at work addressing educational/experience requirements and better defining the rules around Parenting Coordination.

Subsidizing Parenting Coordination for lower income families and psychologists' professional obligations and regulation are separate issues, for now I'm just asking the legal profession if we'd support either some or all decisions being delegated to Parenting Coordinators without parental consent.

The procedural fairness afforded by courts might debatably be appropriate for critical issues such as the basic parenting arrangement or relocation (although I have my doubts), perhaps appeals should still be allowed (albeit with a high degree of deference), and perhaps in some scenarios it might be appropriate to have lawyer assistance during the process where there's a power imbalance or client not willing to speak up for themselves. However, I can't see any reason why the court is more suitable to decide ongoing parenting issues than a specially trained and experienced Parenting Coordinator. Parenting Coordination generally leads to to more appropriate outcomes, at a lower cost, and quicker so that they don't have to continuously be at war. That way, more parents can also access professional assistance to resolve their disputes, and obtain justice.

There was an interesting article out of Ontario yesterday in the Lawyer's Daily which discusses a child-centered approach to delegating decision-making to Parenting Coordinators:

What do you all think?

0 12 months ago - edited 12 months ago

Wayne Barkauskas, K.C. Executive
 view Arbitrator profile
  Wise Scheible Barkauskas
   Calgary, Alberta

1. Courts can order it now. What they can't do is make an order giving PC's jurisdiction to decide matters when there is no agreement. The PC can still do all the other parts of PC work.
2. I actually agree with the courts when they say they do not have jurisdiction. Legislation is very specific about who can decide parenting matters (both Provincially and Federally) and as a result, without legislative changes, the courts cannot delegate these decisions.
3. I personally think that it is a good idea who's time has come for legislative changes to be made in order to allow the delegation of authority where appropriate.

2 12 months ago

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