Registered Parenting Coordinator and Arbitrator

Requirements for a Registered Parenting Coordinator and Arbitrator

Common issues that an RPCA would mediate and/or areas of decision making would include:

  • Daily routines and parenting schedule
  • Parenting time sharing arrangements, e.g. holidays, summer vacations
  • Discipline issues
  • Child care/babysitting
  • Transportation and exchange of children (drop off/pick up)
  • Medical, dental, vision care and other medical issues
  • Psychological counselling and assessment
  • Extracurricular activities and special events
  • Education, e.g. school choice, tutoring, special needs issues

Scope of Practice of Registered Parenting Coordinator and Arbitrator (RPCA)

The role of an RPCA is to assist in dispute resolution using mediation skills and/or arbitration. The RPCA would support parents and help facilitate communication and cooperation for the purpose of effectively co-parenting their children. An RPCA's role includes facilitation, education, and consultation and involves the process of meeting with parents and may offer professional advice and recommendations regarding the needs of the children.

The RPCA may make an award which the parents are bound to follow.

RPCAs may gather and/or communicate information with other significant individuals in the children’s lives (e.g. school teachers, visitation supervisors, physicians, dentists, medical and mental health professionals). RPCA is not confidential or privileged.

An RPCA's jurisdiction over which issues they may decide will be governed by the Arbitration Act of Alberta and/or as set out in the parenting coordination agreement or consent order.

The RPCA must be a member of a regulated professional body (e.g. Alberta College of Social Workers, the Law Society of Alberta, the College of Alberta Psychologists). If there are grievances/complaints, they may be made to the professional body. AFMS only certifies the education requirements of its members and does not address grievances.

In order to meet the qualifications to be a Registered Parenting Coordinator and Arbitrator, an applicant must fulfill all of the following requirements: 

A. Education and Experience

All RPCAs must meet the following education and experience descriptions: 

  • A Law degree or a Master-level degree in one of the following: Psychology, Social Work, Education, Conflict Resolution or other related field (such as Sociology, Anthropology, Criminology, Nursing, Religion, Philosophy)
  • 5 years of experience, post degree, working with family and children related issues

B. Basic Mediation and Other Training Requirements

  1. In addition to, or as part of, the above qualifications, all RPCAs must have completed basic mediation courses, totaling a minimum of 40 hours which have covered all of the following areas:
    • Conflict Resolution 
    • Negotiation 
    • Communication 
    • Interest-based Mediation 
    • Mediation skills
  2. In addition to, or as part of, the above qualifications, all RPCAs must
    submit evidence of the following:
    • For those who are NOT lawyers: 20 hours of family law training and 20 hours of Parenting Coordination training – at least 3 hours of which must be Domestic Violence training
    • For those who are NOT mental health professionals: 20 hours of child development training and 20 hours of Parenting Coordination training at least 3 hours of which must be Domestic Violence training


(Please note that AFMS puts on a 40 hour Basic Mediation course but courses from many other institutions are suitable.  The Legal Education Society of Alberta (LESA) course "Mediation of Family & Divorce Conflicts" is NOT a Basic Mediation course but is instead considered "Specialized Training" often used for the Registered Family Mediator (RFM) membership qualifications.  All levels of mediator membership (above General Member) with AFMS require a 40 hour Basic Mediation course.)

C. Specialized Mediation and Arbitration Training 

1. All RPCAs must complete an additional 40 hours of specialized training covering all the following subject areas (candidates may request to submit and have other relevant training considered in lieu of the requested list):

• Advanced communication skills

• Advanced mediation skills

• Advanced negotiations skills

• Pre-mediation/Intake sessions (approaches, forms)

• Child stages and development as related to separation and divorce and high conflict family dynamics

• Child's rights/voice of the child

• Research (theories, practice, other ADR approaches)

• Parenting Plans (theories, approaches, such as: co-parenting and parallel parenting, to utilize communication and scheduling plans)

• Child Support Guidelines

• Property, Pension and Tax Law 

• Spousal Support (Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines)

• Screening for family violence/partner abuse and power imbalance

• High conflict mediation 

• Parenting After Separation (PAS) program

• High Conflict program (PASHC)

• Knowledge and application of AFMS Code of Professional Conduct and ethics/liabilities and standards of practice

• Current trends in Case Law as it applies to Mediation

• Awareness of collaborative professionals

• Drafting Mediation Reports

2. All RPCAs must complete an additional 40 hours of specialized training in Arbitration that includes the following: 

• Knowledge of the Arbitration Act of Alberta

• Knowledge of case law

• Running a hearing (procedures, motions, evidence)

• The role of the arbitrator

• The writing of an award

• A skills assessment* and/or two Letters of Reference**


*A program with Skills Assessment would be a role play, exam and/or evaluation.

**From a professional in a related field; must use provided form.


D. Documentation

RPCA candidates must submit copies of three (3) real mediation reports and three (3) arbitration awards (with identifying details omitted). The arbitration awards may consist of the following: at least one must be a real award and up to 2 may be based on role plays from a course where the role played awards have been graded by the instructor and received a passing grade**. All reports and awards must demonstrate the results of High Conflict Parenting mediations and arbitration. These reports and awards should, between them, demonstrate a knowledge and competency in dealing with all of the common issues arising in High Conflict Parenting mediations and arbitrations.

**(An applicant who has been an RFM in good standing for 2 years or more and who does not yet have a real Arbitration Award to submit with their application, may still be granted their RPCA status, as long as all other parts of their application are complete and satisfactory. Submission of the real Arbitration Award must occur within one year of the granting of the RPCA designation or RPCA status may be revoked.)

It is AFMS policy that our mediators do not prepare mediation reports or agreements for client signature. The reports should have a clear indication that the provisional agreements reached by the clients are subject to their obtaining independent legal advice (ILA) and will be non-binding until incorporated into a formal signed agreement. Reports should be signed by the mediator. 

In the case of Arbitration Awards related to Parenting Coordination the Award shall follow the guidelines set by the Arbitration Act (Alberta).

Please note that the results of Collaborative Law files do not qualify as Mediation Reports or Arbitration Awards.

E. Malpractice Liability Insurance

All RPCAs must submit evidence of applicable malpractice insurance coverage for Alberta.

F. Professional Body Membership

All RPCAs must be members in good standing of a regulated professional body.

G. Ongoing Activity and Education

All RPCAs must complete a minimum of 50 hours of mediation and/or arbitration per year. (Please note that Collaborative Law files do not qualify for this activity requirement.)

In addition, RPCAs must complete a minimum of 20 hours of continuing education in mediation or arbitration, or related topic areas, and additionally a
minimum of 20 hours of parenting coordination or related topic areas (e.g. child development, domestic violence, family law issues related to parenting) every two years.



Alternative Qualifications

Applicants who do not meet these qualifications may submit a letter of request to have their relevant experience and educational qualifications assessed by the Registrar. The onus is on the applicant to outline where they think the equivalencies lie.  

Application Forms
To apply for Registered Parenting Coordinator and Arbitrator status, print and complete the Application Forms and return them to our offices along with the required fees.

Letter of Reference Form
If you're submitting reference letters in support of your application for a designation, please use this: AFMS letter of reference