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.
Maxine currently practises family law as a sole practitioner from her office in Aurora, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Prior to her appointment to the bench in 2017, Justice Julie Audet practised as a family lawyer, mediator, and collaborative practitioner in the Ottawa and Eastern Ontario regions. Fluently bilingual, she graduated from the National Program (LL.B./LL.L.) at the University of Ottawa with the highest honours in 1996 and completed an LL.M. in Family Law at Osgoode Hall Law School in 2011. Justice Audet has taught Family Law at the University of Ottawa; led the Family Law component of the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Law Practice Program (in French); and co-authored a textbook, L’essentiel du droit de la famille dans les provinces et territoires de common law au Canada, with the late Professor Nicole Laviolette.
Justice Audet is well-known in her community for her involvement in pilot projects and committees related to the family justice system and her commitment to helping couples separate with dignity. As a lawyer, she co-founded various business endeavours aimed at providing services, support and educational programs on Family Law to members of the public. Raised in the Gaspé Peninsula in a modest and hard-working francophone family, Justice Audet studied in Montreal, worked in Calgary, and completed her education in Ottawa – where she finally settled, grew strong community roots, and raised her own family.
Andrea holds a Masters of Social Work from York University as well as a Bachelor of Social Work and a Bachelor of Arts. Andrea is in private practice and is a registered social worker with over 30 years’ experience working with children and families, through various agencies including over 20 years in Child Welfare, and as a policy advisor on Child Welfare at the Child Welfare Secretariate in the office of the Minister of Community and Social Services. In private practice since 2009, Andrea offers diverse services and interventions for families experiencing a child with special needs including children on the autism spectrum, ADHD, Tourette’s Syndrome, Anxiety and OCD. She offers individual counselling for adults and children, family counselling, and EAP services.
Her private practice also provides specialized services related to families impacted by separation and divorce including: custody and access assessments, family mediation, reunification therapy, voice of the child reports, therapeutic services for children and families, and After Care services for the Family Bridges Program. She is a member of The Ontario College of Certified Social Workers and Social Service Workers, the Ontario Association of Social workers, and the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, and a clinical agent for the Office of the Children’s Lawyer. She has been deemed an expert in both Section 112 and Section 30 Assessments, and as well as in Reconciliation Therapy by the courts.
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.
Professor Shelley Kierstead teaches Family Law (core and advanced) and Child Protection law at Osgoode Hall Law School. She completed a doctoral dissertation in the family law area and received a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from Osgoode Hall Law School.
Professor Kierstead, in cooperation with the Ministry of the Attorney General, developed a Child Protection externship for upper year students. She is also Director of the Legal Process course at Osgoode and teaches a number of courses within Osgoode’s Professional Development program. Her research interests lie in the areas of children and families, professionalism, the development of expertise in legal writing, and Therapeutic Jurisprudence.
Professor Kierstead is currently Chair of the International Society for Therapeutic Jurisprudence.
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.
Justice Heather-Ann Mendes was appointed to the Ontario Court of Justice on May 23, 2019. She was called to the bar in July 2005 after graduating from the University of Windsor Law School in 2004. Justice Mendes also has her Honours Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Wilfrid Laurier University. Before her appointment, her law practice focused on family and child protection law. Justice Mendes was also a panel lawyer with the Office of the Children’s Lawyer, and she was an accredited family, child protection and adoption mediator. Justice Mendes also presided as a Deputy Small Claims Court judge and she was a chairperson for the Canada Pension Plan Review Tribunal.
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.
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.