13 September 2012

Family Law Act: Law Society Task Force Releases Practice Requirements, Government Announces No Fall Sitting

Proposed Practice Requirements 

On Friday 7 September 2012, the Law Society's Family Law Task Force released its recommendations (PDF) on the qualifications lawyers should be required to have before being able to practice as family law arbitrators, family law mediators and parenting coordinators as provided under the new Family Law Act. The proposed qualifications are rigourous, and, I suspect, appropriately so.

Family Law Arbitrators

The Task Force recommends that lawyers practicing as family law arbitrators have 10 years of practice or experience as a judge or master, sufficient knowledge and skills to arbitrate family law matters in a competent manner, 40 hours of training in arbitration, 40 hours of training in mediation and 14 hours of training in family violence. Arbitrators should also be required to take at least six hours of continuing professional development per year in dispute resolution skills training and/or theory.

Family Law Mediators

Lawyers practicing as family law arbitrators should have sufficient knowledge and skills to mediate family law matters in a competent manner, 80 hours of training in mediation and 14 hours of training in family violence. Mediators should also be required to take at least six hours of continuing professional development per year in dispute resolution skills training and/or theory.

Parenting Coordinators

Lawyers practicing as family law arbitrators should have 10 years of practice or experience as a judge or master, sufficient knowledge and skills to act as a parenting coordinator in a competent manner, 40 hours of training in parenting coordination, 40 hours of training in arbitration, 80 hours of training in mediation and 14 hours of training in family violence. Parenting coordinators should also be required to take at least six hours of continuing professional development per year in dispute resolution skills training and/or theory.

The recommendations of the Task Force must be approved by the Benchers of the Law Society.

Fall Sitting

The CBC reports House Leader and former Attorney General Mike de Jong as saying that the provincial legislature will not sit this fall. As a result, no amendments to the Family Law Act can be tabled until the spring sitting in 2013; the act is scheduled to come into force on 18 March 2013.

Update: 17 September 2012

According to a newsletter distributed by the Law Society today, the recommendations of the Family Law Task Force were approved by the benchers at their meeting on 7 September 2012. Lawyers currently practicing as mediators, arbitrators and parenting coordinators are advised to look at the grandfathering provisions of the recommendations.

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