2017 AFCC-O Conference

The AFCC-O Ninth AGM and Annual Conference

Breaking Down Barriers: Targeting Resources to Meet Families’ Needs

Registration soon to reserve your seat!

Thursday, October 19, 2017 Events

Location: Toronto Central YMCA Centre, 20 Grosvenor Street, Toronto, ON

New Professionals Event, “Advice From the Bench” 1:00 to 2:30 p.m.

Have you ever wondered what advice judges would provide to the family law professionals involved in their cases? This year we invite our New Professionals (as well as our seasoned veterans) to join us on Thursday October 19, 2017 from 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm for a special panel discussion by members of the Ontario judiciary. In the format of advice in 8 minutes, this unique session will provide practical suggestions and tips in the areas of: written and oral advocacy; do’s and don’ts at conferences and motions; dealing with lawyers and self-represented litigants; and tips to achieving success as a family law professional.  Our experienced panel includes: Justice Roselyn Zisman (Ontario Court of Justice, Toronto), Justice Victoria Starr (Ontario Court of Justice, Halton), Justice Kendra Coats (Superior Court of Justice, Halton) and Justice Allan Rowsell (Superior Court of Justice (Family Branch), Durham). Attendees will have the opportunity to submit questions to the Bench, which will undoubtedly yield thoughtful answers and useful advice. This unique and stimulating experience is surely one that should not be missed.

Pre-Conference Institute, “Addiction in Family Breakdown: The Challenges and Complexities” 2:30 to 5:00 p.m.

Our annual pre-conference event will take an in-depth look at the significantly challenging issues that can arise when parents and/or children are affected by addictions. Dr. Leslie Buckley, psychiatrist and medical director of Addictions Outpatient Services at the University Health Network, will lead the discussion about the impact of addictions on overall functioning, as well as on parenting.  Dr. Buckley will be joined by a panel of experts, including: Andrew Galloway (Edgewood Health Network); Howard Hurwitz (MSW); Carolyn Leach (Counsel, Office of the Children’s Lawyer); Justice Ellen Murray (Ontario Court of Justice, Toronto); and Lisa Pont (Addiction Therapist/Trainer, CAMH). Our speakers will provide the insight necessary to enable attendees to achieve a better understanding of, and better practices in, cases where addiction affects parents and/or children. As family law professionals it is our duty to support our clients while ensuring that risk is being properly considered. A diverse set of addictions will be explored including: alcohol, illegal and prescription drugs, gambling and video games.

AFCC-O Evening Social Reception 5:00 to 7:00 pm

Location: Pogue Mahone Pub & Kitchen, 777 Bay Street, Toronto, ON M5G 2C8

Join our colleagues and friends for the AFCC-O annual social event – a convivial gathering, featuring refreshing drinks and tasty food.

Please register early, as space is limited and we anticipate that this amazing event will sell out!

Friday, October 20, 2017

AGM and 9th Annual Conference, “Breaking Down Barriers: Targeting Resources to Meet Families’ Needs” 8:30 am to 4:30 pm

Location: Toronto Reference Library, Bram & Bluma Appel Salon, 789 Yonge St., 2nd Floor, Toronto, ON 

As family law professionals who comprise the (growing) AFCC-Ontario community we have no shortage of good intentions and great ideas for improving the lives of the families we serve. However we often seem to run up against one challenge: addressing our clients’ high needs within the context of limited resources.  This problem is as perennial as it is practical and unless we take steps to match services with needs the family justice system will continue to struggle.  The Ninth Annual AFCC-Ontario Conference has an agenda that endeavours to meet the issue of limited resources head-on, providing you with practical and creative solutions to thorny and complex problems.  Attendees will have the opportunity to explore a variety of ideas and approaches, and will be provided effective tools to assist in the resolution of family disputes in practical and cost-effective manners.

In his keynote address, renowned parenting professional Dr. Arnie Shienvold will enlighten our audience on the topic of the “Cadillac vs. Chevy – How do we balance the push and pull of limited resources?”  Dr. Shienvold will share his experiences of public and private resources in the United States, as compared to what is available in Ontario. Our keynote speaker is an engaging, humorous and enlightened speaker – Dr. Shienvold is considered to be a “must see” whenever he presents at AFCC (International) conferences.

In the following session, Professor Rollie Thompson and our esteemed panel will delve into the debate around relocation including a review of the caselaw and social science literature on this ever-difficult topic.  Questions include: When is a move likely to be endorsed or denied by the Court? Which factors carry the most weight in a determination of the benefits / drawbacks of a proposed move? What are reasonable parenting plans in light of the distance and age of the children?  How can mediators, mental health professionals, lawyers and judges effectively and efficiently resolve mobility cases? Our panel will conclude by commenting on the tension between the families’ finances and the impact on the proposed relocation.

The afternoon sessions will explore a variety of topics and will include reflections on the issue of limited resources.  Our first panelists will debate the merits of the parenting coordination process and will provide answers to the following:  Is parenting coordination an efficient and effective process for high conflict families? In what circumstances is it more likely to assist the parties? How can we improve this service and constrain the costs?

Later in the afternoon attendees have the option to attend two breakout sessions:

First Session Options:

(a) Forward thinking on “intersection” cases (when the custody/access and child protection systems collide); or

(b) Best practices in advocacy, assessment and ADR in cases affected by intimate partner violence.

Second Session Options:

(a) Gender identity in family law disputes; or

(b)  Lessons learned from the 2017 AFCC-Ontario Research Project, Court-Based Mediation Services in Ontario: An Evaluation of Participation, Success and Best Practices.

To round out our day, we are fortunate to have two knowledgeable hosts who will provide insight into this year’s important child-related cases, Philip Epstein and Justice Stanley Sherr; as always an informative, punchy, and humorous way to conclude our annual conference.

We look forward to sharing our information-packed program with our esteemed speakers, AFCC-Ontario members and fellow professionals.  Please join us as we explore, from a multi-disciplinary perspective, how to bridge the gap between available services and our clients’ growing needs.

Learning Objectives:

  • To explore how to best use our available resources to support children and families
  • To engage in meaningful discussions across the disciplines on important issues that affect many parents involved in the family justice system
  • To address hot topics in family law including: addictions (Pre-Con Institute), relocation, intimate partner violence, intersection cases and ADR

Conference Registration Information

Registration for our conference and pre-conference events are managed by our conference planner, Natalie Savage. This link directs you to our cVent registration page. If you have questions please contact Natalie Savage at 416-255-2525 or email: natalie@the-planner.ca.

The Law Society has approved this program for CPD credits as follows:

1 Professionalism Hour, plus an additional 0.5 Professionalism Hour for the plenary session entitled “Advocacy, Assessment and ADR in Cases Affected by Domestic Violence”.

Lawyers and paralegals determine for themselves whether an activity is an eligible educational activity for CPD and qualifies for Substantive Hours. This program may include up to 5.5 Substantive Hours.


AFCC-O has also applied to the American Psychological Association for continuing education credits for psychologists. Please check back for this information.

Sponsorship Opportunities

To inquire about opportunities for sponsorship and advertising please contact any of the below sponsorship committee members:

Brian Burke (416) 862-6227 BBurke@epsteincole.com

Jennifer Suzor (519) 252-2772 jsuzor@familylawspecialist.ca

Jaclyn Mackenzie (416) 916-0886 jaclyn@nussbaumlaw.ca

Please make sponsorship cheques payable to:  AFCC Ontario Chapter

Mail sponsorship cheques to:

Dr. Shely Polak, AFC-O Treasurer
AFCC Ontario Chapter
29 Centre Street West
Richmond Hill, ON L4C 3P3

Conference sponsors’ logos will appear below as this information becomes available

2017 Gold Sponsors



2017 Silver Sponsors



2017 Bronze Sponsors