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Registered Parenting Coordinator and Arbitrator

Requirements:

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

The role of a Registered Parenting Coordinator and Arbitrator (RPCA) is to facilitate communication and cooperation between parents for the purpose of effectively co-parenting their children. An RPCA’s role includes facilitation, education and consultation and involves meeting with the parents to establish cooperative parenting plans and to assist in dispute resolution using mediation skills. An RPCA may offer professional advice and recommendations regarding the needs of children. The RPCA may assist parents with any number of parenting issues related to the needs of the children, including adjustments parents may make to the parenting time schedule, selection of medical personnel or professionals, the choice of education and extracurricular activities for the children.

Generally, AFMS suggests the Consent Order or written Agreement would include the following:

  • Name and designation of the RPCA including professional body to which they belong
  • Details as to scope of mediation and decision making authority
  • Length of term of service as RPCA, e.g. 2 years
  • Fee for the service and arrangement for payment
  • That the discussions and recommendations of the RPCA are not confidential or without prejudice and the RPCA may be called as a witness in Court, if necessary
  • Statements as to the limitation period for an appeal by a parent of the RPCA’s decision/recommendation to a Judge, e.g. 30 days

The RPCA may gather information from the parents and other additional information as necessary (e.g. data from schools, child care individuals, medical providers, mental health counsellors and the like) and then make a recommendation, which the parents are bound to follow. The parents and the RPCA agree to reserve the right to revisit the issue in the future over time and with the availability of additional information or documentation.

RPCAs may communicate information to other significant individuals in the children’s lives (e.g. school teachers, visitation supervisors, physicians, dentists, medical and mental health professionals) for the purpose of ensuring follow through on binding recommendations that they are appropriate.

RPCAs may also set up and manage a treatment team to meet the needs of the children and parents. This may involve direct communication with the team and selecting and replacing members of the team if necessary to benefit the parents and the children.

Areas of decision making for an RPCA could 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, testing and assessment
  • Extracurricular activities and special events
  • Education, e.g. school choice, tutoring, special needs issues

An RPCA’s decision making authority is limited such that they cannot change legal or physical custody, decide relocation or mobility issues, or substantially alter existing access schedules. RPCAs cannot make child support orders or decisions related to religious observances.

The term of service of an RPCA is determined by the needs of each case however often it is a minimum of 2 years. This must be set out in the Court Order or written agreement with the scope of authority.

The RPCA’s finds and decision are not confidential or without prejudice. The RPCA can be called as a witness to testify and may be called on to offer input to help the Court make a decision, if necessary.

The RPCA must be a member of a regulated professional body. If there are grievances, 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 
  • 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 generic conflict resolution courses, totaling a minimum of 35 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 in Domestic Violence training
    • For those who are NOT mental health professionals: 20 hours of child development training and 20 hours of Parenting Coordination training 

C. Specialized Mediation and Arbitration Training 

  1. All RPCAs must complete an additional 35 hours of specialized training covering all of the following subject areas:
    • Definition of Mediation and Introduction to Mediation Process 
    • Role of Mediator 
    • Mediator Techniques *must include a practical component, i.e., role plays 
    • Intake Session -a discussion of: Pre-Mediation Sessions vs. No Pre-Mediation Sessions *must include a practical component 
    • Child Development as related to separation and divorce 
    • Research outlining the effects of divorce on children 
    • Parenting Plans -including contact plans between parents and children, special holidays / events, custody (decision making authority), dispute resolution, basic principles concerning children 
    • Child Support Guideline Training 
    • Property, Pension and Tax Law 
    • Interest based Negotiation *must include a practical component 
    • Spousal Support 
    • Domestic Violence *must include a practical component, i.e., practice with screening protocols 
    • High conflict divorce 
    • Attend Parenting After Separation Course and/or review course materials 
    • Ethics / liabilities and standards of practice in Mediation 
    • Review of Code of Professional Conduct 
    • Current trends in Case Law as it applies to Mediation 
    • Approaches to conflict resolution including current research 
    • Communication process *must include a practical component 
    • Collaborative divorce mediation (using the assistance of other professionals) 
    • Drafting Mediation Reports *must include a practical component, i.e., draft a final report
  2. All RPCAs must complete an additional 35 hours of specialized training in Arbitration which includes a full assessment and writing of an Award.

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 will 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 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.

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.

 

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.