Proposals - Parenting (lawyers only)

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

Ken Proudman of BARR LLP (Alberta)1 Comment
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: ...
88% in favour out of 16 votes

Proposal: Add legislative criteria to consider when determining whether to implement shared parenting
Parenting (lawyers only) - Aug 15, 2021

Ken Proudman of BARR LLP (Alberta)6 Comments

We know that children generally benefit from having two very involved parents, and we know that there are scenarios where shared parenting would be dysfunctional. Courts can also be somewhat inconsistent, which likely leads to more litigation, to the detriment of children. Why not codify factors, while still leaving some discretion for unusual circumstances?

Here's an example of what that could look like:
Shared parenting shall be ordered except where:
a) Logistical hurdles such as distance, bussing, or employment schedules would make shared parenting impractical, would leave young children unattended, or would result in grossly excessive travel time for the children;
b) A parent lacks adequate accommodations for the child;
c) A parent lacks necessary skills, training, or equipment to attend to the needs of a disabled or special needs child;
d) The parents are in substantial conflict with each other, before trial or where there is also a significant disagreement on the evidence, and before parallel parenting can be properly instituted, except when the conflict is primarily the result of the unreasonable conduct of the parent seeking the majority of parenting time;
e) A parent poses a serious risk of physical, psychological, or developmental harm to a child because of their past conduct towards a child, demonstrated lack of basic parental knowledge, inability or unwillingness to follow the recommendations of a psychologist or teacher, violence, substance abuse, neglect, absence, or a mature child's resistance towards time with that parent;
f) A mature child's strong and justifiable preference to reside primarily with one parent;
g) Shared parenting for one child would result in prolonged absences from a sibling to which they have a strong connection;
h) A parent's housing or employment instability makes shared parenting an unlikely long-term arrangement;
i) A parent desires that their own parenting time be less than equal; or
j) Exceptional circumstances mean that shared parenting would not be in the best interests of the child.

Feel free to add others in the comments.

67% in favour out of 12 votes

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