In this case Justice McGee of the Ontario Superior Court was asked to decide on numerous issues relating to the custody and access of the parties’ daughter, Maya.
The facts of this case are simple. The parties were married for just under six years and had one child (Maya). Their marriage was a difficult one and they were anything but amicable, dragging their case through court and engaging in incessant litigation on every possible issue.
One such issue related to the appointment of a parenting coordinator with the authority to make final awards. Prior to appointing a parenting coordinator from a list of pre-selected and approved candidates, Justice McGee requested that counsel for both parties confirm their instructions to ensure that there was mutual consent. However, despite previous dealings and apparent consent, counsel for the father revealed that he no longer consented to the appointment.
What is useful about this case is that it clearly outlines the law relating to the jurisdiction of the court when it comes to appointments of parenting coordinators and affirms that both parents must consent. A judge cannot unilaterally, or on the consent of one party, appoint a parenting coordinator. At paragraph 5, Justice McGee states:
“It is a decision increasingly being made by separated parents, and it is their decision alone. It is outside the jurisdiction of the court to delegate the court’s authority to a parenting coordinator, or to dispense with the consent of a parent to an Agreement for Mediation/Arbitration, or an Agreement for Parenting Coordination Services and Arbitrations in accordance with the Arbitration Act, S.O. 1991, c. 17 and the Family Statute Law Amendment Act, 2006, S.O. 2001 c.1.”
By not agreeing to the appointment of a parenting coordinator, Justice McGee was obligated to reluctantly make a decision regarding the custody of and access to Maya. At paragraph 22 he states “In the motion before me, I am left to consider the optimal schedule for Maya at this time based on the evidence as it stands today, and without the prospect of parenting coordinator.”
She stated the utility of resolving disputes through a parenting coordinator and his words should be kept in mind if and when you are ever faced with a similar dilemma.
“Fully authorized and funded parenting coordinators act as fail safes for co-parenting plans that seek to balance time and decisions making between parents. Without such a safety mechanism, conflict can increase between parents.”