Educational Resources

Separated Ontario Parents: A New eBook You Need to Read

Written by Russell Alexander / (905) 655-6335

New eBook! – Navigating Parenting Coordination in Ontario: A Practical Guide for Parents

This eBook is packed with invaluable insights and innovative strategies to assist you in understanding your options and provide you with tools to navigate the post-divorce landscape with confidence. In this helpful guide, you will learn about the following topics:

  • Role of parenting coordinators
  • Tools for cooperative co-parenting
  • Guidance towards resolution
  • Learn more to feel empowered to make informed decisions with your family

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A Deeper Dive on the Legislation Around Parenting Coordination

The concept of parenting coordination in Ontario presents a unique fusion of arbitration and family law, a domain governed principally by the parties’ contractual agreements within the framework of the Arbitration Act and Family Law Act. Unlike some global counterparts, Ontario has yet to formalize parenting coordination as an adjunctive court procedure.
Nonetheless, the role of parenting coordinators can be pivotal in aiding the judiciary.
Below is a succinct analysis of certain judicial facets related to this mechanism:
  1. Parenting coordination is fundamentally a consensual, post-separation method for resolving disputes regarding parenting plans. Per the Divorce Act (specifically section 16.1(6)), judges may endorse parenting coordination only if it is non-adjudicative, as established in the case S.V.G. v. V.G., 2023 ONSC 3206. This distinction underscores that while courts can mandate parenting coordination that encompasses coaching, education, and mediation, they cannot impose the arbitration element without mutual consent and adherence to family arbitration regulations.
  2. The dichotomy between an open and closed process complicates the understanding of parenting coordination in Ontario. Differing from other jurisdictions where it is inherently an open process, in Ontario, it is up to the involved parties to stipulate in their agreement whether the coordination will be open—with reporting back to the court—or closed, maintaining confidentiality throughout.
  3. Prior to any form of private adjudication, it is a pre-requisite that both parties undergo thorough screening for any power imbalances and intimate partner violence (IPV). This is a mandatory step even if the parties have reached a preliminary agreement, as seen in Monteiro v. Monteiro, 2022 ONSC 2642.  Consequently, any agreement to appoint a parenting coordinator should explicitly state that parties will engage with the coordinator promptly to initiate the intake and screening process. Only post-screening, and once the parenting coordinator deems the situation appropriate, should the formal PC agreement be executed.
  4. While obtaining independent legal advice (ILA) is not a statutory requirement for parenting coordination due to its classification as “secondary arbitration,” it is highly advisable for parties to seek ILA during their PC agreement negotiations. This practice is commonly insisted upon by parenting coordinators themselves.
  5. Consent Orders for parenting coordination should be crafted meticulously to ensure they are effective, enforceable, and conducive to reducing conflict. Critical components should include:
    1. A selection method and timeline for appointing a parenting coordinator if not pre-agreed.
    2. Scheduling for intake and screening sessions with the chosen parenting coordinator.
    3. The inclusion of the parenting coordinator’s agreement, with stipulations for signing following successful screening and provided the coordinator considers the matter suitable.
    4. Clarity on whether the process will be open or closed.
    5. Duration of the term, typically 24 months, though this can be adjusted.
    6. Clearly defined jurisdiction, detailing the parenting coordinator’s scope of authority. This is crucial to prevent future disputes, as parenting coordination is considered “secondary arbitration” under Family Law Act s. 59.7, limiting it to arbitration on issues pertaining to the implementation of the parenting plan.
In summary, the landscape of parenting coordination in Ontario is a terrain navigated best with informed consent, mutual agreement, and a profound understanding of its legal boundaries and potential.

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About the author

Russell Alexander

Russell Alexander is the Founder & Senior Partner of Russell Alexander Collaborative Family Lawyers.