Provincial Working Group on Parenting Coordination
Inspired by AFCC’s leadership on Parenting Coordination internationally, the 2019 release of the updated Guidelines on Parenting Coordination and harnessing the wealth of experience and expertise among the membership, AFCC Alberta has convened a Provincial Working Group aimed at advancing the practice of Parenting Coordination (PC) in Alberta.
As part of this initiative, the Provincial Working Group has conducted a survey to gather input on several important topics from the professional communities who are invested in or have an interest in Parenting Coordination (PC). The survey is now closed. We thank all participants for their time.
As a next step, a series of Zoom Focus Groups will be conducted in April/May and into fall to further discuss key issues and hone in on those most contentious issues, then there will be an all-day Zoom Workshop on Parenting Coordination (with date TBD), tentatively scheduled for October 2022.
Call for Focus Groups
Through background research, broad consultation, and workshopping key issues, to develop an AFCC Alberta proposal for advancing PC practice in Alberta with a critical mass of province-wide support across key professions and institutional voices; and
To work with (and as appropriate or necessary to advocate to/with) the appropriate policymakers, institutions, organizations, and the Court to build support for adopting the AFCC Alberta proposal for PC (not precluding a coordinated effort in conjunction with other organizations or institutions).
Broad Definition of Parenting Coordination adopted by AFCC:
In the process of building consensus internationally, AFCC has adopted the following “definition” for PC:
PC is a child-focused dispute resolution process conducted by licensed mental health or family law professionals or certified, qualified, or regulated family mediators under the rules or laws of their jurisdiction.
PC is a hybrid legal-mental health role that combines assessment, education, case management, conflict management, dispute resolution, and at times, decision-making functions.
PC is a service-model for high-conflict families oriented to protecting children from conflict and to promote safe, healthy, and meaningful parent-child relationships.
A Parenting Coordinator assists high-conflict coparents to implement their parenting plans by
facilitating the resolution of their disputes in a timely manner;
educating coparents about children’s needs; and
with prior approval of coparents or the Court, making decisions within the scope of the Court Order or Appointment Contract.
A Parenting Coordinator makes recommendations and, if authorized, legally binding decisions for coparents, and may report to the Court; therefore, it is advisable that Parenting Coordinators are appointed by and accountable to the Court….
 This definition of PC and description of the Parenting Coordinator role is taken from the “AFCC Guidelines for Parenting Coordination”, developed by the AFCC Task Force on Parenting Coordination (2019) at page 2 [AFCC Guidelines].
Jurisdictional Diversity in the Practice of Parenting Coordination
Building on common shared principles which have guided the practice of PC since the early 1990s, various models of PC have emerged across the globe. Currently, PC is practiced in at least 46 US states, 6 Canadian provinces (Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Prince Edward Island and Quebec), and in Europe (Italy, Spain, Sweden), Asia (Hong Kong, Singapore), Australia, South Africa, and elsewhere.
17 US states and 3 Canadian provinces (BC, Saskatchewan, and PEI) now have legislation providing for Court-directed PC without the consent of high-conflict parents;
20 US states have Court Rules for the practice of PC;
22 US states have Common Law Rules;
Consent of the parents is not required in many jurisdictions;
Decision-making authority with a defined scope is common across all jurisdictions.
Proposed Work Plan
a. Produce a folder of background “Primers” intended as quick reference guides, covering:
(a) Historical Overview on the Development of PC in Alberta
(b) The PC Role in the Alberta Court and Other Canadian Courts
(c) Overview of PC Models
(d) Jurisdiction & Legal Authority for PC – Issues & Approaches
(e) Efficacy of PC – Overview of the Research
b. Produce a “Discussion Guide” on PC in Alberta for the Consultation Phase setting out the key questions for the development of PC practice in Alberta and possible options / approaches / models going forward. The Consultation will occur in several fora, including but not limited to online surveys, Zoom focus groups and individual interviews.
c. Update a Directory of Parenting Coordinators in Alberta.
2. Consultation Phase (Current Phase): Implement a series of Zoom focus groups, individual interviews and online surveys using the Primers and Discussion Guide.
3. Proposal Development Phase (May-June 2022): Collate the input from the Consultations and prepare a draft Proposal (or several proposals and/or recommendations) to be discussed and finalized in a full-day Workshop planned for Friday, June 3, 2022.
4. Advocacy Phase: to be determined based on what comes out of the process.
The Evolution of Parenting Coordination in Alberta
Alberta was one of the first Canadian provinces to develop the practice of PC, initially led by mental health professionals affiliated with AFCC. Over the years, both mental health professionals and family lawyers have engaged in PC work in Alberta. There is more history and uptake of PC in Calgary than in Edmonton, and very few practitioners outside of these urban centres.
Until its removal from the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Practice Note 7 (PN7) for Parenting Interventions in May 2019, Alberta was a jurisdiction where the practice of PC was partially governed through a Court Protocol, combined with voluntarily prescribed decision-making authority under the Arbitration Act of Alberta. The inclusion of PC in the former PN7 provided for Court-directed PC and arguably some degree of quasi-judicial immunity for Parenting Coordinators.
The removal of PC from the PN7 in 2019 followed several constitutional challenges to the Court’s delegation of authority to Parenting Coordinators in some US states and the Canadian Courts grappling with the delegation of authority in the context of arbitration more generally, and PC specifically. When this sea-change occurred, PC was eliminated as a Court-directed Parenting Intervention, with some justices of the Court of Queen’s Bench refusing to grant Consent Orders for PC, resulting in growing uncertainty about PC. [read more...]
AFCC Alberta Provincial Working Group on Parenting Coordination:
Dr. Larry Fong (Calgary – Psychologist)
Dr. Pat Petrie (Calgary – Psychologist)
Dr. Lorri Yasenik (Calgary – Child Psychotherapist / Play Therapist)
Hanita Dagan (Calgary – Psychologist)
Eileen Ailon (Calgary – Psychologist)
Krysta Ostwald QC (Calgary – Lawyer)
Jan Crommer (Medicine Hat – Clinical Social Worker)
Dr. Greg Pickering (Edmonton – Psychologist)
Karim Mawani (Edmonton/Sherwood Park – Lawyer)
AFCC Alberta Chapter Parenting Coordination Committee / Board Liaison:
Tracy Brown (Edmonton – Lawyer)
Traci Bannister (Calgary – Lawyer)
AFCC Alberta Chapter
c/o Mr. Jonathan Tieman, Treasurer,
Maclean Wiedemann Lawyers LLP
422 6th Street S.E.
Medicine Hat, Alberta T1A 1H5