510 THE ADVOCATE
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(iv) a substantial change to the parenting time or contact with a child;
i(v) the relocation of a child.3
Not surprisingly, given that innovation in family law has often drifted
north, the model for parenting coordination that we use in British Columbia
has its origins in California, in response to the growing sense that solutions
to many ongoing parenting issues did not require the full engagement of
the court. “Special masters” were court-appointed professionals who provided
input and recommendations to the court on parenting issues before
such issues became full-blown applications (otherwise known as financial
What makes B.C. somewhat unique is our adoption of the arbitration
component of parenting coordination, which keeps the parties out of court
on all issues within our jurisdiction as parenting coordinators. The only
exceptions to this are applications under s. 19 of the Family Law Act4 (“FLA”)
for review of decisions made by parenting coordinators.
In 2008, Dr. Joan Kelly, a Californian of Wallerstein & Kelly fame, was
invited to Vancouver to provide training to enable us to change the way parenting
disputes are resolved in B.C. Out of that training, an entirely new
form of ADR was introduced to B.C. That training also gave birth to the B.C.
Parenting Coordination Roster Society, created by a group of family lawyers
and mental health professionals. We designated ourselves as founding
members, nominated ourselves to the board of directors and headed out
into the community to create awareness of the service.
I had expected reluctance from the bar to engage in parenting coordination,
but family lawyers—particularly those finishing lengthy, acrimonious
custody trials—were only too happy to turn their still-angry clients over to
parenting coordinators to deal with the fallout. Having begun with a founding
group of about ten, the roster of trained parenting coordinators slowly
began to grow and the work became more available as family lawyers figured
out the program.
Appointments of a parenting coordinator could be made only by agreement
in the early days, although some judges threw caution to the wind and
ordered our appointments in any event.
Life changed with the FLA’s introduction in March 2013. The provisions
of the FLA capture the essence of the program and, perhaps more importantly,
both the FLA and the Regulation contain appropriate limitations on
our jurisdiction. The review provisions of s. 19 provide the court with the
assurance that there is ultimately a fairly broad mandate to review decisions
of parenting coordinators. The FLA provides for review on the basis