Law Society to administer accreditation of family law alternative dispute resolution professionals
Online system created to simplify registration
The government of BC is emphasizing the use of family law alternate dispute resolution professionals to diffuse the adversarial nature of family law disputes and to see more family law disputes resolved out of court. Under the Family Law Act, the Law Society has been given the authority to regulate and accredit BC lawyers who wish to act as family law mediators, family law arbitrators and/or parenting coordinators.
In anticipation of the new Family Law Act, the Family Law Task Force issued a report on September 7, 2012 recommending qualification requirements for lawyers acting as family law mediators, family law arbitrators and/or parenting coordinators.
Lawyers who, as of March 18, 2013 were previously accredited as family law mediators by the Law Society or were acting as family law arbitrators and/or parenting coordinators, will have until January 1, 2014 to meet the new requirements. Lawyers wishing to qualify in the first instance to act as family law mediators, family law arbitrators and/or parenting coordinators must meet the new requirements and receive accreditation.
The Law Society has developed a new online system for lawyers to apply for accreditation to act as family law mediators, family law arbitrators and/or parenting coordinators. Lawyers can record already approved alternate dispute resolution courses or request approval of an unlisted course by logging in through Lawyer Login > Family Law ADR Accreditation – Initial Request.
The task force recommended that, before lawyers are permitted to act as family law mediators, family law arbitrators and/or parenting coordinators, they must satisfy certain training criteria. The criteria include specific alternative dispute resolution skills training, training in recognizing and dealing with family violence, and targeted continuing professional development. In addition, the task force recommended experience requirements for family law arbitrators and parenting coordinators, while eliminating the previous three-year practice experience requirement for family law mediators.
Oversight of family law alternative dispute resolution qualifications now falls under the jurisdiction of the Law Society’s Credentials Committee, and the assessment of courses is guided by the substantive minimum requirements set out by the task force in its report.
Screening for family violence
In addition to the substantive minimum requirements set out for family law mediators, family law arbitrators and parenting coordinators, lawyers wishing to be accredited must have a minimum of 14 hours of training in screening for family violence in order to comply with section 8 of the Family Law Act.
Lawyers who do not act as family law mediators, family law arbitrators and/or parenting coordinators, but will be advising a party in relation to a family law dispute, are strongly encouraged to ensure they possess the required skills, knowledge and training to properly discharge their obligation under the Family Law Act.
For more information on the minimum substantive requirements, how to submit a request to be accredited and/or the mandatory continuing professional development credits please see the Law Society website at Lawyers > Family law alternate dispute resolution accreditation.