ABOUT US

Mission, Vision and Values:

The AFCC is an interdisciplinary and international association of professionals dedicated to the resolution of family conflict. AFCC 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. Our Vision is a justice system in which all professionals work collaboratively through education, support, and access to services to achieve the best possible outcome for children and families.

The AFCC, Ontario Chapter provides opportunities for our members to network and share their interdisciplinary views of family court matters on a local level and within a Canadian context.

OUR AFCC-O BOARD CHANGED AS OF OCT. 19, 2018

Board Of Directors, Executive:

Brian Burke is a partner at Epstein Cole LLP. He attended Trinity College at the University of Toronto for undergraduate studies and then Osgoode Hall Law School.

Brian started his career by summering, articling, and then briefly practising corporate and commercial law at the firm Torys in Toronto. After that he practised tax law for several years at the firm Thorsteinssons in Toronto. Brian then decided, over a decade ago, to pursue a career in family law, and he has been with Epstein Cole since 2004.

Brian is involved in various family law justice initiatives, committees, and educational programming. Brian is regularly invited by various professional organizations to speak to audiences on both substantive and professionalism legal topics.

Philip Clay has been a member of the Ontario Court of Justice since January 2013. He sits in Brampton and presides exclusively in family law cases. Justice Clay was called to the Bar in 1983. In 1992 he restricted his practice to family law and family mediation. He was a member of the Office of the Children’s Lawyer panel from 1988 until his appointment. He taught mediation at McMaster University. Justice Clay became an Accredited Family Mediator in 1994. He obtained his CP Med certificate and facilitated Legal Aid settlement conferences. He was a founding member of the Hamilton-Halton Collaborative Law Association. In 2002 he was appointed as a member of Ontario’s Consent and Capacity Board and heard civil committal and capacity issues throughout the province.

Dr. Polak holds a Master of Social Work degree and a PhD from the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto. She is a registered social worker and an accredited family mediator servicing Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area. Her private practice provides specialized services related to families impacted by separation and divorce including: custody and access assessments, family mediation, reintegration therapy, voice of the child reports,  parenting coordination, and therapeutic services for children and families   She maintains a position as instructor and Affiliate Faculty member at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto.

Dr. Polak’s doctoral research focused on the practice of reintegration therapy for children who resist parental contact post-separation. She has published in peer-reviewed journals and book chapters and is a frequent presenter at national and international professional and academic conferences in the area of high conflict separation/divorce and parent-child contact problems. Dr. Polak was the recipient of the Nicolas Bala Award for Excellence in Children & Family Law in October 2016. She is a member of the Ontario College of Social Workers, Ontario Association of Social Workers, Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, and the Ontario Association of Family Mediators. She currently sits on the Executive of the Board of Directors for the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, Ontario Chapter as our Vice President.

Michelle is a registered social worker and an Accredited Family Mediator in Hamilton, Ontario.  She holds her Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Social Work degrees.  Michelle has provided therapeutic services to individuals and families for nearly 18 years, in various settings such as child welfare, violence against women sector, and in children’s mental health.  Presently, Michelle is in private practice, offering specialized services to separating and divorced families including, custody and access assessments, parenting plan mediation, parenting coordination, individual therapy and reconciliation therapy.  She is a licensee for the New Ways for Families Program and a consultant on high conflict families with the Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton.  Michelle has been the Chair of the Hamilton High Conflict Forum since 2012, a Co-Chair of the Parenting Coordination Section of the Family Dispute Resolution Institute of Ontario.  She is a member of the Legal Aid Ontario Area Committee, Ontario Association Social Workers, Association of Family and Conciliation Courts and the Ontario Association of Family Mediators.

Maxine currently practises family law as a sole practitioner from her office in Newmarket, Ontario.  Previously, she was a partner in the Toronto office of one of Canada’s largest full-service law firms, where she practised in the areas of family law, civil litigation and bankruptcy and insolvency law.  Maxine draws on her broad based legal experience and M.B.A degree in acting for clients in complex financial matters.  Maxine was a member of the executive of the Family Law Section of the Ontario Bar Association for several years.  She is a frequent speaker at programs of continuing education.  Maxine is a graduate of the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law, and was called to the bar in 1992.

Dr. Daniel T. Ashbourne is the Executive Director for The London Family Court Clinic (formerly known as The Children & Families in the Justice System). Dr. Ashbourne first arrived to LFCC in 1999 as a Registered Clinical Psychologist in the province of Ontario working in Youth Justice and Family Law matters, and then held the position at LFCC of Director of Clinical Services since January 2002. He brings more than 25 years of clinical expertise, including knowledge related to youth in conflict with the law, the impact of children’s exposure to domestic violence and/or child abuse, best practice methods for parenting capacity and custody & access assessments, as well as the work in the field with children and their parents in the midst of separation and/or divorce challenges. Dr. Ashbourne’s leadership continues a long tradition at LFCC of commitment to children and families through excellence in clinical practice, training and ongoing research in the field. Furthermore, Dr. Ashbourne continues to provide various specialized assessments, in addition to training workshops and consultations related to the overlap of Psychology and the Law, Best Practices for parenting capacity and/or custody & access evaluations, and Appropriate Alternative Dispute Resolution techniques.

Board of Directors, Members At Large:

Anisa Ali, M.S.W., R.S.W., Acc. FM (OAFM), Acc. CPM (OAFM) is the Family Mediator and Settlement Conference Facilitator for Legal Aid Ontario -Peel/York. She is an accredited Family Mediator and Child Protection Mediator with Ontario Association of Family Mediation, as well as a Registered Social Work and qualified Parent Coordinator. An accredited family mediator since 2002, Anisa has worked within the court-based family mediation services in Newmarket and Brampton.

Her focus has always been on working with low-income individuals. She draws upon her 18 years of experience running a food bank and her Masters in social work to better understand the challenges that many of her mediation clients face. She is an advocate for the ethical practice, community initiatives, and empowerment of families to resolve conflict and to make decisions about their future.

Since 2015, Anisa has been a guest lecturer at York University Social Work (BSW & MSW) Family Mediation courses. She had worked on family mediation and domestic violence/power imbalance course development and training at Humber College ADR Program; Peel Family Mediation Services Internship training, Legal Aid Ontario training programs and community workshops within Greater Toronto Area and Kitchener-Waterloo area. Currently, she teaches family mediation at York University’s Family Mediation Certificate Program.

Anisa volunteers as the current Chair of Peel Family Mediation Service and has been a Board member since 2011. For the past seven years she has been responsible for Peel Family Mediation Annual Domestic Violence Symposium where she gathers professionals and experts from within Ontario for day of enlightened training and celebration of “Heroes” who have overcome challenges as survivors of domestic violence.

Nicholas Bala is a leading Canadian expert on legal issues related to children, youth and families in the justice system, and also teaches and writes about Contract LawNick obtained his law degrees from Queen’s University (J.D. 1977) and Harvard (LL.M. 1980).  He has been a Professor at the Faculty of Law at Queen’s since 1980, and has also been a Visiting Professor at McGill, Duke and the University of Calgary. He has received teaching awards at Queen’s University, and served as Associate Dean at the Law School for the past five years.

Professor Bala is an expert on Family and Children’s Law, with research focusing on issues related to children and families in the justice system, including: the role of experts in the family justice process; judicial interviews with children and legal representation of children; child welfare law; youth justice and young offenders; parental rights and responsibilities after divorce, including parental alienation; spousal abuse and its effects on children; child witnesses in the criminal courts; the Charter of Rights and the family;  the Hague Convention on Child Abduction; and access to family justice.  Much of his research work is interdisciplinary; he has undertaken many collaborative projects with psychologists, social workers, criminologists and health professionals to better understand the effects of involvement in the justice system on children, youth and families. His work is cited by all levels of court in Canada, including the Supreme Court of Canada as well as trial and appellate courts across the country, and has also been cited by courts in the USA, England and Australia.

Prof. Bala has also worked with Canada’s National Judicial Institute on education programs for judges in the family and criminal justice fields. He has presented at many conferences and professional education programs for judges, lawyers, probation officers, youth workers, teachers, doctors, psychologists, child welfare workers, and social workers in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Italy, Trinidad, Jamaica and Hong Kong.  He won the Queen’s University Prize for Excellence in Research in 2006, and was awarded the Stanley Cohen Distinguished Research Award by the Association of Family & Conciliation Courts in 2008. His contributions to family law research and professional education were recognized in awards from Ontario’s Law Society and the Ontario Bar Association in 2009.  In 2013 Prof. Bala was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.  He is also a member of the Board of the Canadian Research Institute on Law and the Family.

Martha Butler, LL.B., works as counsel for the Department of Justice Canada in the Family, Children and Youth Section. She is responsible for legal and policy issues under the federal Divorce Act. Before joining the Department of Justice, Martha worked for the Library of Parliament, supporting parliamentarians on a number of legal issues, including family law. Martha has also practiced family law and, during law school, spent many hours volunteering at Ottawa’s Family Law Information Centre, which provides assistance to unrepresented family law litigants. Martha clerked with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice from 2008 to 2009, supporting judges primarily in family law and child protection matters.

Hayley Rose Glaholt, Ph.D., M.Sc., Acc.Fm. is an Accredited Family Mediator (OAFM) practising in Toronto. She earned a Ph.D. in Religion, Ethics, and Public Life from Northwestern University (Chicago), and holds a Masters of Science in Animals in Public Policy from Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. She mediates parenting and custody disputes as a roster mediator with mediate393, and is the principal at Hayley Glaholt Mediation. Dr. Glaholt joined the Board of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, Ontario Chapter (AFCC-O) in 2018, and she is also a member of the Ontario Association of Family Mediation (OAFM), and the ADR Institute of Ontario (ADRIO). In addition to mediating, Dr. Glaholt is the founder and Executive Director of Link Coalition Toronto, a registered non-profit dedicated to educating the public about the link between domestic violence, child abuse, animal abuse, and elder abuse.

Dr. Kimberly Harris graduated from the University of Toronto with a PhD in School and Clinical Child Psychology. She is a registered clinical and forensic psychologist in the province of Ontario and currently works at the London Family Court Clinic. Dr. Harris has a diverse workload that includes assessment and consultation for youth and their families involved in the justice system addressing issues such as mental health, violence risk, parenting capacity, custody and access, and capacity to testify. Dr. Harris has been declared an expert witness in the areas of mental health, psychological assessment, and parenting capacity. Dr. Harris also provides intervention to children and youth who are in conflict with the law and families involved in custody disputes. Some of these interventions include Parenting Coordination, Parent Management Training, and the use of cognitive-behavioural approaches in residential, custodial, outpatient, day treatment, and home settings. Dr. Harris provides leadership for a number of community collaborations related to high conflict custody disputes and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. She engages in teaching, training, and program development in family assessments, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, domestic violence, applied behavior analysis, cognitive behavior therapy, and forensic issues. Dr. Harris supervises graduate students in these areas and has co-authored papers in scholarly journals, a chapter in the book entitled Juvenile Justice: Advancing Research, Policy, and Practice, and more recently, publications for clinical practice and training.

Carolyn Leach has been counsel with the Office of the Children’s Lawyer (OCL) since 1998.   In this role, she represents children in child protection and custody/access proceedings at both the trial and appellate level, and provides supervision and support to panel lawyers representing children on behalf of the OCL in Northern Ontario and Toronto.   Since February 2018, Carolyn has been seconded to the Ministry of Children, Community & Social Services, where she provides legal advice to policy clients regarding the interpretation of the Child, Youth & Family Services Act and its regulations, supports litigation counsel on civil & constitutional litigation matters relating to child welfare, and advises on proposed legislative and regulatory amendments.  Carolyn presents regularly on a variety of topics related to representing children in family law matters, and is in the process of becoming an accredited family mediator.   In 2015, she received her Master of Laws from Osgoode Hall Law School, specializing in civil litigation and dispute resolution.

Kaitlyn McCabe was called to the Bar in 1996 practicing family and estate litigation and an OCL panel member for the Office of the Children’s Lawyer; Joined Legal Aid Ontario in 2003 and currently Director for Windsor, Sarnia and Chatham; past sessional instructor for the University of Windsor Law School, past member of the Child Abuse Prevention Council and past Director of the Spirit of Windsor Youth Community Marching Band.

Archana Medhekar is a Certified Family Law specialist, and accredited family mediator, practicing in Toronto. In her international experience in the field of law over 20 years, Archana has been actively engaged in family conflict resolution work. Archana’s work has focused on the weaker sections of the society, immigrants, and refugees- who face barriers to access to justice.

Archana has worked on issues of gender based violence, child abuse and child protection issues by representing children at the court, working with high conflict family disputes through family mediation and parenting co-ordination services. She has participated in various initiatives advocating for change in laws, policies, best practices, gender pay gap, refugee mental health issues and other systemic and international issues with her work with various professional and non-governmental organizations.

Archana is a peacebuilder, and actively involved on the United Nation’s platform with NGO Mediators Beyond Borders International. Archana is currently a member at large of the CBA Women Lawyer’s Forum, which promotes women’s stature and influence in the legal profession in Canada.

Robyn is a family lawyer practicing with Dani Z. Frodis Barristers in Toronto.  Since being called to the Bar of Ontario in 2010, Robyn has concentrated on all aspects of family law and child protection law.  Robyn also acts as child’s counsel as a panel lawyer for the Office of the Children’s Lawyer.  Robyn received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Simon Fraser University. She completed a joint Juris Doctor/Collaborative Masters of International Relations degree at the University of Toronto.  Robyn articled as a judicial law clerk for the judges of the Superior Court of Justice in Toronto.  Robyn is a regular participant in programs hosted by the Ontario and Canadian Bar Associations, the Law Society of Upper Canada, and the Family Lawyers Association.  Robyn contributes to the Lexis Nexis Practice Advisor and regularly volunteers as Family Law Duty Counsel at the Ontario Court of Appeal. 

2018-2021 Strategic Directions:


The AFCC-O recently completed a Strategic Planning Review to formulate action plans to move our association forward over the next several years. We hope to grow our membership, organize further outreach events in variouis parts of the province, facilitate and share research, and help others make use of webinars available from the AFCC international. We also want to re-connect with those in mental health and other sectors such as child protection, youth justice, academia, and other communities of practice across the province, to emphasize the benefits of membership with the AFCC and the AFCC-O.

Download our 2018-2021 Strategic Directions

AFCC-O Board Meeting Minutes: