Should Ontario amend the Family Law Act to incorporate court-ordered parent coordination?

Siera Stampone

In the family law, there has been a shift away from traditional litigation as families are encouraged by judges, lawyers, and government to resolve conflict through alternative dispute resolution (ADR) processes (e.g., mediation). ADR processes have been identified as a means to minimize parental conflict allowing for greater empathy to the needs of children and providing for quicker and more satisfying outcomes for parents. Nevertheless, for some parents conflict continues even after a parenting agreement has been reached. Parent Coordination is an alternative dispute resolution service that assists high-conflict parents in implementing their co-parenting agreement with the best interests of the child as the focus. In 2013, British Columbia made amendments to the Family Law Act that allows judges to court order a Parent Coordinator, without the consent of a family, to assist a family with living out their parenting agreement. Currently, Ontario has no provision surrounding parent coordination services; a Parent Coordinator can only be ordered upon consent of the parties. This presentation will report on the results of an in-depth literature review and key informant interviews about whether Ontario should amend the Family Law Act to incorporate court-ordered parent coordination, informed by the British Columbia model.