Parenting coordination is a valuable conflict resolution service for parents who disagree about the details of their parenting plan. And it is in demand; at Riverdale there are four of us offering this service.
In Ontario, parenting coordination exists as a voluntary dispute resolution option for parents. Aspects of the process are marginally (but importantly) regulated by law— namely the Arbitration Act, Reg. 134/07 under that Act and the Family Law Act.
Because there are no rules of the court protecting or governing the process, many Ontario PCs operate by way of a private contract for confidential services—much like family arbitration and mediation. We mediate and we make binding decisions where parents are unable to agree. But we do not report to the court and parents cannot be required to have a PC.
In Ontario, there is no mandatory dispute resolution of any kind in family law matters. Mediation is available at no cost in the courts, and this is great access to justice option in my opinion. (full disclosure, I provided court-based mediation services in Toronto’s family courts.)
Under the Family Law Rules, judges can order parties to a mediation intake meeting with a court-based service provider . This is an excellent way to encourage parties to proceed to mediation without ordering them to do it.
Other jurisdictions have approached family dispute resolution different. In Saskatchewan, for example, the law now requires all family law litigants to use an early dispute resolution process before continuing with court. The process options are collaborative law, arbitration, mediation or parent coordination. There are exceptions for cases where there is a restraining order, or a history of family violence for example.
To ensure there was a strong capacity in the province to deliver these services, Saskatchewan created the Early Family Dispute Resolution Office, which evaluates candidates for the province’s list of recognized service providers.
We are pleased to report that Hilary Linton has met the requirements and is now a recognized service provider of parenting coordination with the Saskatchewan Early Dispute Resolution program.
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