19 May 2012

Collaborative Practitioners and Child Interviewers: Two New Groups Launch in May

The new Family Law Act has spurred somewhat of movement toward organization among the family law community. In some cases, like that of the BC Hear the Child Society, existing groups have been prodded into action, and in others, like those of the BC Collaborative Roster Society and the yet-to-be-named family law arbitrators association, new groups are organizing themselves from scratch.

The impetus likely comes from the definition of family dispute resolution processes at s. 1 of the act:
"family dispute resolution" means a process used by parties to a family law dispute to attempt to resolve one or more of the disputed issues outside court, and includes ...
(b) the services of a parenting coordinator under Division 3, 
(c) mediation, arbitration, collaborative family law and other processes ...
The definition is important, because certain other provisions of the act - notably the provisions for the enforcement of parenting time and contact at ss. 61 and 63, and for the making of conduct orders at ss. 222 to 228 - allow the the court to refer parties to family dispute resolution in the middle of a court action.

This month, we've seen the formal launching of the BC Collaborative Roster Society, in Vancouver on 10 May 2012, and the BC Hear the Child Society, in Kelowna, Vancouver and Victoria on 10, 14 and 16 May 2012. The BC Hear the Child Society will hold an event in Kelowna on 7 June 2012.

BC Collaborative Roster Society

This group has followed up on the recommendations of the Family Law Working Group in 2005 that a roster be established for collaborative practitioners in order to provide the public with a roster of qualified  practitioners in the collaborative practice model. According to the group's website:
"The BC Collaborative Roster Society provides an opportunity for the public to access information about Collaborative Practice, as well as a province-wide roster of professionals who are trained, experienced, and committed to excellence in Collaborative Practice. 
"The BC Collaborative Roster Society is committed to furthering the growth of high quality Collaborative Practice through continued training and support of collaborative professionals."
The lawyers and mental health professionals on the roster have all met the society's rather exacting membership requirements (PDF).

The group's board of directors is composed of Lisa Alexander, Robert Colby, Bev Churchill, Cally Farr, Karen Henry, Deirdre Severide and Danny Zack, led by president Nancy Cameron, QC. 

BC Hear the Child Society

This group describes itself as "a non-profit organization that aims to give every child the opportunity to share their views and have them heard when their best interests are decided in the family justice system." The group offers a roster of lawyers and mental health professionals who have met the society's membership requirements to prepare non-evaluative reports.

According to the group's website:
"The purpose of a non-evaluative child interview is to listen to the child so that the child can express his or her views in relation to family breakdown or transition, and have them considered in decisions made about their best interests. The Interviewer does not assess the child, his or her best interests, or the parents."
The group's board of directors is composed of John-Paul Boyd, Trudi Brown, QC, Robert Colby, David Dundee, Arlene Henry, QC and Derek Swain, led by president Ron Smith, QC.

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