Keynote Speaker: Steven Bradley, Our Family Wizard
AFCC Ontario - Association of Family and Conciliation Courts Ontario Chapter
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2019
LOCATION: Sheraton Hotel, 116 King Street West, Hamilton, ON L8P 4V3
Pre-Conference Events to Kick Off Our Annual Conference Include:
2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. – Hindsight 20/20 – An Interdisciplinary Reflection
Speakers: Dr. Barbara Fidler, Psychologist, Families Moving Forward, Justice George Czutrin, Superior Court of Justice, Cathryn Paul, Lawyer/Mediator, Oakville Mediation, and Valya Roberts, Executive Director, Dalhousie Place
Moderator: Nicholas Bala, Professor, Queen’s University
Attendees who are newly entering the field of family law will have an opportunity to draw on the insights and experience of multidisciplinary professionals from the bench, the bar, and mental health fields in a panel forum. This is a unique opportunity to gain information as the family law professionals reflect on topics such as their duties related to advocacy, best practices for analyzing ethical dilemmas, and best practices for career management as a family law professional.
4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. – AFCC-O Chapter Social Reception
Mingle with AFCC-O colleagues! (appetizers and one complimentary drink provided)
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2019
LOCATION: Liuna Station, 360 James Street North, Hamilton, ON L8P 4V3
Presenting Keynote Speaker: Steven Bradley, Our Family Wizard
The Interaction of Technology & Family Law
As family law, mental health, and legal professionals, we know that offenders use whatever means available to abuse, harass, stalk, and monitor victims. Today’s technology has provided offenders with tools to accomplish these tasks without having to leave the safety of their homes. In this interactive workshop, Steven Bradley will explore the risks and benefits of technology for victims and professionals alike. Attendees will learn safety planning and evidence collection strategies for phone technology, location apps, social media, and more. Non-technical language will be used to describe the privacy levels of each area and how to safely navigate the world of technology.
Upon the completion of the workshop, attendees will be able to:
• List three types of technology used to monitor, harass and abuse;
• Describe evidence collection strategies for text messages and social networking posts; and
• Identify eight strategies for safety planning around technology, and List the top three security settings for mobile devices.
Morning Breakout Sessions to choose from are:
1. Family Violence and Divorce: Does the New Divorce Act Do the Job?
Pamela Cross, Legal Director, Luke’s Place
Canada’s Divorce Act addresses the issue of family violence head-on, with a detailed definition of family violence, criteria for the best interests of the child test and new language to replace custody and access. This workshop will explore both the strengths and weaknesses of the new law, focusing on where it could do more to protect the safety and wellness of women and their children. Attendees will be educated on how to recognize and respond to the needs of clients who have experienced domestic violence and about situations where their clients and children may be vulnerable to ongoing harassment and abuse by violent ex-partners and prompt them to seek terms that will respond to these vulnerabilities.
• The safety issues inherent in the communication provision in the BIC test;
• The need to remove any reference to maximum contact from the Act; and
• The ways in which abusive former spouses can manipulate the language related to decision-making.
2. Extending Property Rights to Unmarried Separating Couples
Robert Leckey, Dean, McGill Law Faculty of Law
Joanna Radbord, Partner, Martha McCarthy and Co.
Robert Shawyer, Shawyer Family Law and Mediation
Breaking up is hard to do. In Ontario, if you are in a common-law relationship it should not come with an unnecessary complex legal scheme when it comes to the division of property as well. Other provinces such as British Columbia and Manitoba have already shown that it doesn’t have to be this way. It’s time for the Ontario legislature to follow suit.
• How the concept of spouse is defined, including the length of co-habitation needed for recognition of same;
• The need for Ontario to grant common-law spouses the same property rights as married spouses; and
• The need for shifts in Ontario legislation similar to Manitoba’s Common-Law Partners Property Act.
Lunch and Working Plenary Session #1
AFCC Ontario Parenting Plan Guidelines Feedback Session
Nicholas Bala, Professor, Queen’s University
Brian Burke, President, AFCC Ontario Chapter
Andrea Himel, Himel Mediation and Family Law Services
Plenary Session #2
Changes to the Family Law Rules – Expert Testimony
Justice Kendra Coats, Superior Court of Justice
Aaron Franks, Partner, Epstein Cole LLP
Afternoon Breakout Sessions to choose from are:
3. Respecting and Protecting Transgender Children in Canada’s Family Courts
Claire Houston, Professor, Western University
This workshop will explore some of the legal and medico-legal issues that arise in family law cases involving a dispute over a child’s gender identity. Specific topics will include gender disputes in the context of a high conflict separation, children’s participation in disputes over their gender, and children’s decision-making in medically transitioning to a different gender.
• Understand how Canadian courts have decided family law cases involving a dispute over a child’s gender identity;
• Become familiar with current medical and psychological research into trans and GNC children, including areas of disagreement among gender identity experts; and
• Appreciate how laws respecting children’s healthcare decision-making intersect with family law in these cases.
4. Research & Knowledge Dissemination for Child Protection Involving High Conflict Parental Separation
Dr. Dan Ashbourne, Executive Director, London Family Court Clinic
Dr. Rachel Birnbaum, Professor, King’s University College, Western University
Dr. Deb Goodman, Director, Child Welfare Institute, CAS Toronto
Katherine Kavassalis, Legal Director, Office of the Children’s Lawyer
The presenters are involved in a community-based collaborative pilot project and related research project that focuses on better responding to ‘cross-over’ cases (i.e. child welfare and parenting disputes) with a dynamic Impact Service Response Team. This interdisciplinary team (i.e. lawyers/social work staff from the Office of the Children’s Lawyer and child welfare is providing coordinated case management in Toronto for families involved in parenting disputes. The presenters will discuss the process, collaboration between agencies and government and explore initial findings to date.
• To explore an innovative initiative focused on working with families that engage with both child welfare and parenting disputes in the family justice system;
• To understand the strengths and challenges of community collaboration and working with high conflict families that engage with multiple systems (i.e. child welfare, parenting disputes); and
• To translate research findings into practice for child welfare, mental health professionals, lawyers and judges.
Reflections From The Bench
Justice Kendra Coats, Superior Court of Justice
Justice Lena Madsen, Superior Court of Justice
Justice Sheilagh O’Connell, Ontario Court of Justice
Judges will share their unique experiences and perspectives on the changes in family law in Ontario, including a review of relevant case law shaping the landscape of work with families post-separation and divorce. Topics include the use of technology and evidence in family law and how to recognize any unique parent and child needs for circumstances (e.g. culture, language, gender and socio-economic status).