submitted by Maritze Verdun-Jones
Section 8 (1) of the Family Law Act imposes a duty on “family dispute resolution professionals” to canvass with a party involved in a family law dispute various types of family dispute resolution mechanisms available to them – in addition to informing the party of any known facilities or resources that may assist in resolving the dispute if family violence has been adequately screened for. More specifically, the section 8 (1) of the Family Law Act states:
“8 (1) A family dispute resolution professional consulted by a party to a family law dispute must assess, in accordance with the regulations, whether family violence may be present, and if it appears to the family dispute resolution professional that family violence is present, the extent to which the family violence may adversely affect
(a) the safety of the party or a family member of that party, and
(b) the ability of the party to negotiate a fair agreement.
(2) Having regard to the assessment made under subsection (1), a family dispute resolution professional consulted by a party to a family law dispute must
(a) discuss with the party the advisability of using various types of family dispute resolution to resolve the matter, and
(b) inform the party of the facilities and other resources, known to the family dispute resolution professional, that may be available to assist in resolving the dispute.
(3) A family dispute resolution professional consulted by a party to a family law dispute must advise the party that agreements and orders respecting the following matters must be made in the best interests of the child only:
(b) parenting arrangements;
(c) contact with a child.”
This particular duty presents an excellent opportunity for professionals to introduce collaborative family law as a possibly cost reducing option and an effective means for resolving family disputes.