2019 AFCC-O Annual Conference

View Speaker Presentations
(AFCC-Ontario Members Only)

Join us in beautiful Hamilton, Ontario to attend our

AFCC-O 11th AGM & Annual Conference,

“The Changing Landscape in Family Law”

October 18, 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)


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 accessThis 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.

Learning Objectives:

  • 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.

Learning Objectives:

  • 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.

Learning objectives:

  • 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.

Learning objectives:

  • 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.

Closing Session

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).

AFCC Ontario Chapter members are eligible for discounts to attend our chapter events

Memberships are offered via our AFCC International website at:


If you require assistance with joining or renewing your membership you may contact AFCC at:


or by calling 1-608-664-3750 for assistance.

If you are unable to find the information you need in our Conference Brochure

Please direct conference and registration inquiries to:



Sheraton Hotel – Discounted Hotel Rates for Overnight Conference Attendees!

Sheraton Hamilton, 116 King Street West, Hamilton, ON L8P 4V3

Conference attendees are eligible for discounted hotel rates beginning at $159 CAD/night for October 17-18, 2019.  Use this link to make your reservation prior to September 20, 2019:



Please Consider Sponsoring Our Conference Events!

AFCC-O members share a strong commitment to education, innovation, and collaboration in order to benefit communities, empower families, and promote a healthy future for children. We promote a collaborative approach to serving the needs of children among those who work in and with family law systems, encouraging education, research and innovation and identifying best practices.  Your sponsorship and support allows us to continue offering programs to our members and community of professionals.

For more information please download our 2019 AFCC-O Conference Sponsorship Form

Sponsorship levels available include: GOLD, SILVER, BRONZE, SUPPORTER

Display Tables are also available

Contact Michelle Hayes, Conference Committee Chair at: mhayes@old.afccontario.ca (905)667-1999


Thanks to our 2019 Sponsors!!

Sponsors logos appear below in listed categories of sponsorship






Brayden Logo. 2018 (2)

Special thanks to Our Family Wizard for sponsoring our keynote speaker.

We have applied to the Law Society of Ontario for accreditation of the below listed programs:  


Pre-Conference Event on Thursday, October 17

11th Annual Conference (full day attendance) on Friday, October 18

Check back here for further information on CPD accreditation as it becomes available

Attendance at our conference is also recognized by both the American Psychological Association, and the Ontario Association of Social Workers for continuing education.

Certificates of Attendance are available through on-line conference registration