Families Change Guide to Separation & Divorce

2.5 - Review FJC Video

2.5 - Review FJC Video

Now we will summarize what you learned by watching the Family Justice Counsellor’s video.

Family Justice Counsellors – FJCs – are trained family mediators, accredited by the Province of British Columbia and certified by a Family Mediation Canada. In many offices, there are designated family justice counsellors who are trained to interview children in order to bring their views into the mediation, with the consent of the parents and children.

A Family Justice Counsellors can assist their clients with issues related to guardianship, parental responsibilities, parenting time, contact, child support, and spousal support.  They can work with you at any time during the separation process, regardless of whether you are currently in court or not.  If you are able to work out a written agreement with the help of a Family Justice Counsellor, that agreement becomes enforceable when filed with the court.

The role of the Family Justice Counsellor includes:

  • Screening for violence
  • Providing confidential separate meetings or mediation where appropriate
  • Involving children in mediation where appropriate
  • Helping parents focus on the best interests of the child
  • Helping parents make a parenting plan
  • Informing people about the court system, alternatives to court, as well as legal and community resources
  • Providing legal information
  • Helping parents understand court documents and court processes

Mediation by a Family Justice Counsellor:

  • Helps parents make their own decisions rather than having them imposed by the court
  • Improves communication between parents
  • Costs less than going to court, as it is a free service
  • Lets parents work things out sooner than waiting for a court decision; and
  • Keeps children out of the conflict

Sometimes mediation is not appropriate because one person feels unsafe with the other person or there is a history of abuse in the relationship that makes it unsafe to   meet together. In these cases, family justice counselors may still be able to help by meeting with each parent separately to work out an agreement or to provide referrals to legal and community resources.

Seeing a lawyer for independent legal advice is always recommended before you sign any agreement or legal document. To learn more about getting legal help, read the Parenting After Separation Handbook and see the Resources section.

Family Justice Counsellors help parents understand the rules regarding child support. Children have the right to be supported by both parents. The Canadian Department of Justice has created Child Support Guidelines. These provide a national standard for providing financial support to children of separated and divorced parents. Child Support Guideline calculations are based on:

  • The gross annual income of the support-paying parent
  • The province where the paying parent lives and
  • The number of children

The Child Support Guidelines provides a calculator to determine child support, but parents also need to consider special expenses – like school field trips or new health care costs. Parents need to agree on how these expenses will be covered. To learn more about Child Support, read the Parenting After Separation Handbook and see the Resources section.

In the next section, there is an exercise that will help you understand more about how a Family Justice Counsellor could assist your family.