In March, 2013, I took a two day course on using mediation as a tool to resolve high conflict disputes. This course, which was sponsored by MediateBC, was conducted by Bill Eddy of the High Conflict Institute. It featured discussions of the traits of high conflict people and the problems which arise in dealing with them and methods by which those problems could be reduced and overcome so that solutions to their disputes might be achieved. The participants took part in role plays approximating real life situations and thereby developed techniques to assist them in resolving the unique and often daunting obstacles that arise in high conflict situations.
The new Family Law Act came into force in British Columbia on March 18, 2013, replacing the old Family Relations Act. The new Act will result in a number of changes to the law, including an emphasis on resolving family disputes by agreement without going to court via processes such as mediation and collaborative law and an attempt to promote a wider understanding of domestic violence and problems resulting from it. An attempt is made to reduce tensions by introducing less emotive language in cases regarding children as "custody" and "access" are changed to "guardianship" and "parenting time" and "contact". The Act creates new clearly defined property rights for unmarried couples as it stipulates that when a couple lives together for more than two years they will have the same property rights on separation as married couples.
In January, 2013, I took a two day course, Family Violence Screening for Dispute Resolution Professionals, to enhance my ability to recognize and deal with family violence in the context of family law cases. The new Family Law Act, which came into force in March, 2013, has focused on the need for family law professionals to increase their awareness of this problem and develop skills and techniques for keeping family members safe, defusing and reducing tensions that could lead to violence in the family context and bringing cases to a satisfactory resolution in spite of concerns about violence. The course, sponsored by the Continuing Legal Education Society, was designed to provide increased knowledge of the complex problem of family violence, and featured role plays to assist the professionals in attendance in learning how to deal with the various situations in which family violence might be a factor.