Children's safety and well-being are at the heart of new training and practice standards for family dispute resolution professionals - changes that will raise awareness about family violence and help protect B.C. families.
The new Family Law Act, which comes into effect March 18, 2013, will require, for the first time, that all family dispute resolution professionals - mediators, parenting co-ordinators and family arbitrators - screen for family violence. This will help reduce the risk of children and families being put into potentially dangerous situations.
These professionals will also be required to meet new training standards by Jan. 1, 2014, including:
- At least 14 hours of in-depth training on how to identify and screen for family violence or power imbalances to determine whether, or what type of, dispute resolution process is appropriate.
- A minimum level of family-related experience and training in their area of practice.
- A minimum of 10 hours a year, per year, of ongoing training to ensure their skill set remains relevant.
- Extensive training on the new Family Law Act.
The new Family Law Act places the safety and best interests of the child first when families are going through separation and divorce and creates tools to address family violence. One essential new tool is a protection order, a court order that requires an offender to stay away from a victim, which will give police and courts more clarity when dealing with family violence situations.
The enhanced training follows through on a commitment made in Taking Action on Domestic Violence in British Columbia, an action plan released by the Provincial Office of Domestic Violence in October.
The Family Law Act is part of BC's Family Agenda. Under BC's Family Agenda, government is strengthening policies, programs and services to protect families from crime and violence that affect the family unit. To learn more, visit: www.familiesfirstbc.ca
Minister of Justice and Attorney General Shirley Bond -
"The safety of children and family is a paramount priority for our government."
"By making it law that family dispute resolution practitioners must meet minimum training and practice standards, we are ensuring that families who go through disputes or divorces are provided with a safe dispute resolution process, conducted by qualified and well-trained professionals."
"These changes were supported by stakeholders during the extensive consultations that went into updating B.C.'s new Family Law Act - legislation that rightly places the best interest of the child first."
Children and Family Development Minister Stephanie Cadieux -
"Enhanced training practices will help give family dispute resolution practitioners a better understanding of the often complex dynamics of domestic violence. This is an important step in strengthening their ability to support women, children and families who are victims of violence and abuse in their homes."
Director of the Peoples Law School, BC Parenting Coordinators Roster Society and the Family Law Arbitrators Society, John-Paul Boyd -
"Making sure that mediators, arbitrators and parenting co-ordinators have mandatory minimum, but high, training and practice standards is a progressive step the provincial government has taken to ensure that families - particularly children - are protected during an often vulnerable point in their lives."
- Mediators, parenting co-ordinators and arbitrators are neutral third parties who help families settle disputes.
- These practitioners will have up until Jan. 1, 2014, to meet the new training standards.
- The new Family Law Act was passed unanimously in B.C.'s legislature on Nov. 23, 2012, and will come into effect March 18, 2013.
- The B.C. government commits more than $70 million per year in prevention and intervention services and programs to better protect B.C. families involved in domestic violence and other crimes.
- The Provincial Office of Domestic Violence was created in March 2012 as the permanent lead for the B.C. government. Its focus is on strengthening the services and supports available for children, women and families affected by domestic violence.
Learn about B.C.'s Family Law Act: http://www.ag.gov.bc.ca/legislation/family-law/index.htm
Learn more about the Provincial Office of Domestic Violence: http://www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/podv/index.htm
Ministry of Justice
250 580-4730 (cell)