Family Mediation Canada News Magazine – November 2021

November 2021                                                        Volume 1, Issue 3
RESOLUTION
A News Magazine for Family Mediation Canada   
Resolution is a newsletter for FMC that provides national coverage of themes, issues, and events relevant to the dispute resolution community
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In this issue:

   Message from the FMC President
In Focus 

   Practice Tips
   In Summary 
   In Spotlight   
   Upcoming Events 
   List of Conferences 
   FMC Book Shelf


Family Mediation Canada (FMC) has developed rigorous certification programs for family mediators. FMC currently offers three certification streams – family relations mediator, comprehensive family mediator, and elder mediation mediator.

These certifications are recognized across Canada and internationally as reflecting some of the highest standards in education, training and experience that a family mediator can achieve.

To become FMC-certified, a mediator has to demonstrate a high degree of competency as well as possess high ethical standards.

FMC-certified mediators all agree to accept the complaint and disciplinary process that FMC has developed to protect the public interest in the proper and ethical practice of family mediation.

Executive Committee 

President

Judy McCann Beranger – NL

President-Elect
Jennifer G. Hubbard – BC

Secretary
Stephanie Melvin – BC

Executive Committee
Mary Damianakis – QC

Board Members
Frank Bulger – PE
Shelley Dumouchel – NB
Rhoda Dobler – AB
Kimberly Leonard – NL
Andre Lorrain – SK
Michael Saini – ON
Margaret Stewart Sweet – PE
Patrick Zakaria – QC
RESOLUTION
Vol. 1. No. 3 November 2021

Editor
Prof. Michael Saini

Contributing Editors
Judy McCann-Beranger
Sue Bedier

Published by Family Mediation Canada

Administrative Officer: admin@fmc.ca
Telephone: 778-674-4FMC (4362)
Toll free: 1-877-269-2970

Mailing address:
Box 46003 Quail Ridge PO,
Kelowna, BC
V1V 0B1

Resolution is a publication of Family Mediation Canada. The newsletter is published four times a year. Deadlines for news items and advertising are January 15, April 14, July 15, and October 15.

Message from the President

We are at our Annual Conference and AGM today, November 10th. This will be my last President’s Message and I write it filled with appreciation. I was asked to take on this role at a very challenging time for FMC and, though I was somewhat anxious/hesitant, I am pleased that I accepted the challenge. My work with you has been an honour and has kept me inspired and committed to our continuous vision of helping families restructure and believe in themselves in a way that helps them grow and transform to more life-giving places. I am more because I was here, and for that, and many other cherished experiences along the way, I am truly grateful.

I am extremely proud of the accomplishments of Family Mediation Canada over the past year. The Child Protection Certification program will be introduced at the upcoming Conference and AGM by our Chair of the Child Protection Committee, Margaret S. Sweet. As with our other certification streams, training opportunities and continued evaluation and consultation will be sought as the program unfolds. Calls for expression of interest in both the positions of CP Registrar, and CP Assessor, have been sent.

A sampling of other happenings:

  • We continue to rollout relevant educational offerings for our members to keep current and for those who are building hours toward certification. The most recent were delivered by Marie-Jose Poirier and Amanda Stuart from Justice Canada who presented a 2-part webinar series on Changes to the Divorce Act. This complemented well an earlier training with Judge Nancy Flatters on the same topic. We will post the Justice Canada webinars on the FMC website and are hoping to have them available in the growing French section in the new year.
  • The Registrar and Assessor Learning & Discussion sessions were completed in September. FMC is very appreciative of our present certification team who are there to serve you.
  • To stay current, we are reviewing a couple of updates to the Code of Conduct.
  • On International Day of Older Persons, October 1, 2021, FMC had representation on the Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse panel presentation. It was a panel consisting of mediators from across Canada to discuss Elder Mediation, Restorative Justice and Elder Abuse.
  • The Government Relations Committee has been working diligently promoting FMC’s certification standards with ongoing discussions around screening requirements, cross pollination, and addressing the challenges presented to families as they navigate the court system.
  • Plans for the FMC Training Faculty are ongoing. We are also developing a list of “Master Mediators” who hold FMC Certification and are offering practicums.
  • The FMC website has undergone significant improvements and updates with more planned for the near future. Patrick Zakaria, Board Member from Quebec, is overseeing the development of a section of the site designated for French speaking members.
  • The Daniel Hamoline Bursary in the amount of $1000 will be presented at the AGM today. Daniel L. Hamoline, Q.C., was a distinguished and valued family mediator with a personal and professional commitment to high standards for mediators. He had a special interest in understanding how domestic violence impacts family mediation and was an avid supporter of Family Mediation Canada.
  • Member meetings – FMC is committed to developing member meeting opportunities in each province to ensure input from interested members across the country. Based on the feedback from our last survey, we have been striving to implement suggested changes.

Regulation has been a hotter than usual topic over the last couple of months. The importance of regulation in ensuring a consistent standard of expertise for mediators has always been of the utmost importance to FMC. Members frequently hear about “mediators” who practice with minimal training and express their concern about harm, unintentional though it may be. Virtually anyone can attend a program or training and then advertise themselves as a “mediator”. “Trainers” can also roll out training without any evidence of professional standards. Although FMC is a not-for-profit organization, it does offer the only national standard, developed over a 34-year period, with a robust, time tested, continuously evaluated, certification model that is available to members in good standing. It also has a complaints process. This, along with requests for assistance and support from other countries to grow their national standards, continues to inform and motivate. A key element of the FMC certification process is that assessment measures are applied at several stages in the process and on an annual basis.

Regardless of where we are in our life, we all have the capacity to change and grow, to move beyond complacency, to be reliable and to make a difference. I want to say thank you for your ongoing support, friendship and to the many exemplars of what it is to serve faithfully and with humility and loyalty, making a huge difference. Dr. Michael Saini, our newsletter editor, Lisa Arora, a brilliant and dedicated member who supported us in our training offerings and in our strategic planning, Lorenzo De Franco, whose knowledge, patience, hard work, time and leadership has truly contributed to our growth and brought us to a stronger place and Cynthia Spratt Goodmundson who actions what a “friend of FMC” truly is with her unwavering commitment of membership and support of FMC’s mission.

These are but a few of many examples. Your Board and FMC administrator, Sue Bedier, are extraordinary in demonstrating their loyalty and dedication. What a gift to experience our treasured people in action. Although passing on the gavel as President of this incredible organization, I am committed to the ongoing success of FMC, and I will continue to help in whatever ways I can going forward.

My wish for each of you is good health, a heart filled with gratitude, and a peaceful mind.

Judy M. Beranger

In Focus 
Listening to Children in Family Mediation
Children’s participation in mediation, a dispute resolution process to help parents resolve conflict, varies widely across Canada, and even within individual provinces and territories.  Many Canadian provinces now offer mediation to separating or divorcing parents to assist families resolve parenting plan issues outside of court.

Child-inclusive mediation brings the child into the process of family dispute resolution. In one model, for example, a child specialist is engaged in the process to interview the child to gain an understanding of the child’s emotional needs, and expressed wishes. The child specialist then participates in the mediation with the parents, incorporating the child’s perspective on child-related issues in the mediation session without subjecting the child to the adult session or requiring the parents to modify the session due to the child’s presence.

Commentators and researchers are divided over whether, and how, children should be included in their parents’ mediation concerning parenting plan issues. Proponents argue that including children gives them a sense of control over their fate, a place to express and deal with feelings they may not be expressing to their parents, and lets them know what is happening. Opponents argue that it is in children’s best interests not to be included in mediation because it places children in the middle of their parents’ dispute and burdens children with the responsibility of making adult decisions.

Results from the social science research suggest that involving children in mediation can have a positive effect on mediation outcomes, including agreements with more parenting time for non-residential parents and more communication provisions. Some research suggests that parents and children in child-inclusive mediation believe that children gain a sense of relief, a lighter burden, a clearer perspective, and the experience of being heard. Child-inclusive mediation also has been found to decrease court motions following the final resolution of issues addressed in mediation.

Child-inclusive mediation provides the children of separating families an opportunity to be heard. It is, moreover, an essential opportunity for disputing parents to focus on children’s needs and wishes.

The financial and emotional savings to families from successful mediation, removing the need for costly, lengthy, and profoundly negative legal processes and trials, may well justify the additional cost of including children in the mediation process.

Providing child-inclusive mediation for families experiencing lower levels of conflict can also free judges to hear and determine only the most intractable cases. Even in cases that do not settle, children benefit from child-inclusive mediation processes, knowing that their parents care about how they feel and knowing that their parents are making attempts to settle the parenting dispute peacefully. Disadvantages of child-inclusive mediation include instability of government funding to support these programs.  Including children in the mediation process can also increase the cost of mediation given the extra cost of including a child specialist to interview the children and then report back to the mediator.

Dr. Michael Saini
http://www.childrenbeyonddispute.com

ChildrenBeyondDispute.com is the new online resource & education hub for child focused mediation pathways through divorce & separation. ChildrenBeyondDispute.com is for professionals working with separated parents or those experiencing relationship difficulties, and for parents concerned about the impact of conflict, divorce or separation on their children.

The website is home to McIntosh’s internationally acclaimed Child Inclusive Mediation training, and a 90-minute program for parents titled Young Children in Divorce & Separation (YCIDS). There are multiple resources on the site from my research and clinical work in this field, over 25 years. I encourage you to browse the site at your leisure.

Practice Tips
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
 There is a heightened awareness that children’s views and preferences must be taken into consideration when making decisions regarding their living arrangements. Article 12 of the United Nation’s Convention of the Rights of the Child, a treaty that Canada has signed and ratified, specifies that children capable of forming their own views have the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting them and that the child’s voice should be given due weight according to the child’s age and maturity.
UNCRC Messages about Children
  • Children are people now, not people in the making
  • Childhood is valuable in its own right and is not simply a stage toward adulthood
  • Children can be active agents in their own lives
  • Children should not be treated less seriously
  • Infants and children are vulnerable
Tips for Engaging Children’s Narratives 

Four most important elements for interviewing children:

  • Rapport – put the child at ease
  • Clear understanding of role, purpose of questions – limits/extent of confidentiality
  • Interview with the child is to test hypothesis not to confirm what the interviewer already thinks or knows
  • Use the child’s language based on developmental stages
Avoiding Pitfalls
  • Solid understanding about the dynamics of high conflict, intimate partner violence, alienation.
  • Aware of one’s own biases about child protection vs. child’s rights to participate
  • Aware of biases of strained parent-child relationship
  • Peer debrief, consultation, supervision
Avoid Harm
  • Children demonstrate better adjustment to family changes (e.g., parental separation) when they have good communications with parents and supportive relationships with peers (Dunn et al., 2001).
  • Interviews should be structured so to balance the need to gather accurate information while protecting the children’s relationships with their support systems and long-term adjustment.
Avoid Placing Too Much Weight 
  • In the interest of due process, eliciting a child’s direct experience is necessary–and sometimes the only– means of investigating allegations of abuse and neglect, requests for termination of parental rights (TPR) and reunification, custody determinations, criminal matters, and allegations of alienation (Garber, 2007).
  • But this can put undue strain on the child.
  • Need to triangulate with other data.
Be Aware of the Rhetoric 
  • Although sometimes articulated as “right of child” to a relationship with both parents this is problematic as it suggests to alienating parent that the child also has the right “not to have a relationship”.
Be Aware of Hidden Agendas
  • Warshak (2003) contends that ‘‘most procedures for soliciting children’s preferences do not reliably elicit information on their best interests and do not give children a meaningful voice in decision making.’’ Instead, ‘‘most procedures provide children with forums in which to take sides in their parents’ disputes’’ (p. 373).
Assess for Level of Independence
  • Children may directly be provided with negative information by one parent about the other, exposed to parents’ conflicts through overhearing telephone conversations, observe parental distress during custody transitions, or be subjected to anxious questioning by one parent about what occurs at the other parent’s home (Kelly, 2000).
  • All of these situations may affect children’s perceptions and reports about the events in their lives.
Be Aware of Silent Evidence 
  • Interviews with children provide important information about children’s views of the dispute.
  • Workers who ignore this important source of data may not fully appreciate:
    • the fit between parent and child
    • other important factors in a child’s life
    • the child’s developmental abilities
    • the child’s best interest
Find out more about FMC Certification by checking out our website
In Summary
For this issue, we highlight articles relevant to children’s voices
Banham, V., Allan, A., Bergman, J., & Jau, J. (2017). Acknowledging Children’s voice and participation in family courts: Criteria that guide western Australian court consultants. Social Inclusion, 5(3), 155-163. 
The use of Child Inclusive Conferencing in Australia was adopted mostly without guidelines on how it should be implemented. This article seeks to establish a model by which Child Inclusive Conferencing should be used in a manner that maximizes the inclusion of children in family court procedures in Western Australia and beyond. The research to create this model was conducted through interviews with ten family consultants.

Birnbaum, R. (2017). Views of the child reports: Hearing directly from children involved in post-separation disputes. Social Inclusion, 5(3), 148-154. 
This article utilizes the experience of 24 children between the ages of 6 and 17 to establish the role of Views of the Child Reports in the Canadian family court system as a tool to ascertain children’s views and preferences. The need for Views of the Child Reports was established for three issues which could be solved through the use of Views of the Child Reports; children’s wishes to speak about their views and preferences and a concern about them being accurate when they are reported, the need for confidentiality during the sharing of these views and preferences, and the role of the children in making decisions after the separation process has ceased.

Clark, S. (2017). Voice or voice-over? Harnessing the relationship between a child’s right to be heard and legal agency through Norwegian bullying cases. Social Inclusion, 5(3), 131-147.
This article offers an analysis of the child’s right to have their views and preferences heard via Article 12 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its application in Norway, through a case study of bullying. The author ultimately argues that in bullying cases in Norway, though the child has the legal right to be heard, there is no legally mandated voice due to the limits of legal clout for children.

Lloyd, K., & Emerson, L. (2017). (Re)examining the relationship between children’s subjective wellbeing and their perceptions of participation rights. Child Indicators Research, 10(3), 591-608. 
It has been suggested that the children’s wellbeing and their rights are intertwined. This paper seeks to explore the nature of the relationship between wellbeing and participation rights, using a recently developed ‘rights-based’ measure of children’s participation in school and community, the Children’s Participation Rights Questionnaire (CPRQ), and an established measure of subjective wellbeing – KIDSCREEN-10. The findings showed a statistically significant positive correlation between children’s overall scores on the KIDSCREEN-10 test measuring subjective wellbeing, and their perceptions that their participation rights are respected in both school and community settings. Further, the results indicated that it is the social relations/autonomy questions on KIDSCREEN-10 which are most strongly related to children’s perceptions that their participation rights are respected. In light of the findings from this study, it is suggested that what lies at the heart of the relationship between child wellbeing and children’s participation rights is the social/relational aspects of both participation and wellbeing.

Turoy‐Smith, K. M., & Powell, M. B. (2017). Interviewing of children for family law matters: A review. Australian Psychologist, 52(3), 165-173. 

This study is a literature review of publications concerning the purpose and practice of child interviews in family law matters. Specifically, this review is structured around the following questions: (a) what is sought from interviews with children for family law matters; (b) what capacity do children have to provide reliable information; and (c) how should children and how are children currently being interviewed in the family law context. Research on the interviewing of children for family law matters is still in its infancy, with the majority of the work concentrated on providing guidelines, principles, and suggestions for interviews without an evaluation of whether these guidelines or suggestions are being utilised or whether they are effective. This review concludes that no one has extensively examined how child interviews for parenting disputes are being conducted.

In Spotlight

Handbook of Children in the Legal System

Edited By

Ginger C. Calloway

S. Margaret Lee
Copyright Year 2022

In a time when children have been largely silenced during this global pandemic, Drs. Ginger Calloway and Margaret Lee have given careful, thoughtful and compassionate voice to children involved in our legal systems.  As internationally known scholars with impeccable reputations in the legal community, this edited both of legal and mental health scholars provide a key resource for learning about the various legal systems that impact children, including juvenile justice, dependency, family law, immigration and criminal.  Written by practitioners for practitioners, this book is both comprehensive and easy to read with several case studies to expand on concepts and to showcase the voices of children.  This book is a must read for both mental health and legal professionals working with children in the legal system and for students interested in children and the law.

Upcoming events

Partner training: Learn How to Complete Voice of the Child (Reports)

November 8 @ 09:00 – November 12 @ 17:00

Learn how to introduce the Voice of the Child to parents, consider readiness and appropriateness, interview children skillfully and mindfully, and learn to provide feedback to the parents. All in one training. Materials and forms included. Demonstration and practice component. Excellent reviews of this training.

This training is for those with a family law background.

ONLINE: November 8, 10, 12 2021 or May 2, 4, 6 2022
9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Cost: $1500.00. Registration:  https://voiceofthechildindivorce.pccs.ca/

FMC’s 40-hour Basic Mediation training with Dr. Michael Saini

Work online at your own pace!!

The very popular FMC 40-hour Basic Mediation course is now available asynchronously.
Introductory offer, only $1500 for FMC members and $1700 for non-members.

Click here for all the details! 

Notice of Non-Affiliation and Disclaimer

Family Mediation Canada Training is not affiliated or associated with Family Mediation Training Canada, or any of its subsidiaries or its affiliates. Family Mediation Canada does not authorize or endorse and is in no way connected with Family Mediation Training Canada. To ensure you are receiving training from Family Mediation Canada, please check our website https://www.fmc.ca/events/  look for the FMC logo, and ensure it says Family Mediation Canada Training ©.

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