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 spent the first 20 years of her legal career as in-house counsel with the Office of the Children’s Lawyer (OCL). In this role, she represented children in child protection and parenting proceedings at both the trial and appellate level and provided supervision and support to panel lawyers representing children on behalf of the OCL in Northern Ontario and Toronto. In February 2018, Carolyn was seconded to the Ministry of Children, Community & Social Services, where she provided legal advice to policy clients regarding the interpretation of the Child, Youth & Family Services Act and its regulations, supported litigation counsel on civil & constitutional litigation matters relating to child welfare, and advised on proposed legislative and regulatory amendments. In August 2022, Carolyn was further seconded to the Indigenous Justice Division within the Ministry of the Attorney-General, a Division whose mandate is to work towards repairing the relationship between the Ontario government and the province’s Indigenous communities. Carolyn provides advice on policy initiatives and civil matters that involve or affect Indigenous persons or communities, with a focus on child welfare and family law issues. She also sits on the Interim Indigenous Paediatric Death Review Committee, which reports to the Office of the Chief Coroner. 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.
Kaitlyn McCabe was called to the Bar in 1996 after which she practiced family and estate litigation and was OCL panel member. She joined Legal Aid Ontario in 2003 and is currently Director General for LAO’s West District. She is a 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.
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.
Virginia Workman, B.A., LLB, Acc. FM(OAFM) was called to the Bar in 1988 having obtained her BA in Economics and Canadian Studies from McGill University and her law degree from the University of Toronto. She is a sole practitioner in Niagara, and practices in all areas of Family Law including child protection. She is a panel member for the Office of the Children’s Lawyer, a Dispute Resolution officer in St. Catharines, a member of the AXIS Family Mediation team providing comprehensive family mediation, and provides private Mediation/Arbitration Services. She has been an instructor at Niagara College in their Dispute Resolution Certificate program and at Brock University.
Virginia is an enthusiastic community volunteer, sitting on the Local Judicial Liaison Committee since its inception, and on various community boards over the years including: Distress Centre, The St. Catharines Museum, Bethlehem Place Housing, Niagara Health Systems Foundation, Niagara Big Brothers and Sister (BBBS), and the Ridley College Guild. Having raised their daughter Arwyn, Virginia and her husband reside in St. Catharines with their two Golden Retrievers, and on some cold February nights, can be found in the Arctic Circle chasing the Northern Lights.
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.
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.
Chantel is passionate about family law, but the intermingling of family matters with various forms of alternative dispute resolution is her new-found joy. Whether it be through mediation, parenting coordination, or Med-Arb, Chantel is able to assist separated families progress from complex, emotionally-charged and multi-layered circumstances to an outcome which benefits both of them, and more importantly, their children. She is an experienced children’s lawyer and much of her practice is dedicated to representing children. Chantel is an accredited Family Mediator with the OAFM and she particularly enjoys mediating parenting disputes. She is a trained Collaborative Family Law professional. She recently completed her training both as a Parenting Coordinator and an Arbitrator and she is excited to venture on this new path in her career.
Chantel graduated from Law School at the University of Windsor in 1999 and she was called to the Bar in Ottawa in 2001. As a junior lawyer, she practised family law and criminal law (both as defence counsel and as a per diem Crown Attorney) in Renfrew County. She began representing children as a panel member of the Office of the Children’s Lawyer in 2006 and continues doing so to this day. In January 2010, she opened Carvallo Family Law in downtown Ottawa and practised family law exclusively. In January 2013, Chantel joined Sicotte Guilbault Professional Corporation where she was able to specialize even more in her chosen areas of family law – representing children, and mediating family disputes. She took a two-year leave of absence between 2016 and 2018 in order to practise family law at a legal aid clinic in Yellowknife, NT; it was one of the most amazing and educational experiences of her life. Since 2018, Chantel has expanded her practice at Sicotte Guilbault to include Parenting Coordination, Screening for Domestic Violence and Power Imbalances, and Arbitration.
COMPETENCIES FOR CHANTEL:
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.
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.
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.
Dr. Rana Pishva C. Psych provides psychological services in English and French to children, adolescents and adults. She provides psychotherapy and psychological assessment. She offers services to individuals with a range of concerns, including trauma and dissociation, post-traumatic stress disorder, childhood abuse, parenting challenges, postpartum issues, and infant mental health. She conducts mental health assessments, as well as Parenting Capacity assessments (CFSA S.54) and Custody and Access assessments (CLRA S.30).
Dr. Pishva takes a trauma-focused approach in a collaborative and kind therapeutic environment. She aims to support clients as they develop awareness, self-understanding, resilience and adaptive coping strategies. Although her initial training is in cognitive behavioural therapy, she now applies tenets of attachment theory to the treatment of trauma-related disorders, peri-natal issues, and parenting challenges.
Dr. Pishva started her studies in psychology in Montreal, completed her Master’s and Doctoral degrees at Queen’s University in Kingston, and her clinical internship in Thunder Bay. Her formalized training includes: Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Attachment-based parenting (Circle of SecurityTM), Parenting from the Inside Out (Dr. D. Siegal), Dyadic Developmental Therapy (DDP-Level 1), Stein Hauer Guidelines for Assessing Parent Capacity (APC1), Advanced Issues in High Conflict Child Custody Cases, and Infant Mental Health training (IMH-101). She continues her professional development through consultation and supervision, directed readings of the research literature and by attending educational and training workshops. She is a member of the Ontario Psychological Association and Association for Family and Conciliation Courts, and a board member of the AFCC-Ontario chapter.
Dr. Pishva occasionally teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in psychology. She supervises doctoral students in clinical psychology and members under supervised practice. She is a board of Director at the Youville Center in Ottawa and on the board of the Ontario chapter of the Association for Family and Conciliation courts (AFCC-O).
Fadwa Yehia is an Associate Lawyer at Jamal Family Law Professional Corporation. Fadwapractices primarily in the area of family law. Her experience includes:
• Representation of clients with a focus on child custody and visitation issues, including mobility and cross-border enforcement
• Advising clients on issues related to child and spousal support, matrimonial homes, division of property, pension issues, and income determination
• Drafting of contracts and agreements (separation, cohabitation and marriage), settlement proposals, memorandums of understanding and general pleadings/Court applications
• Successfully representing client in motions, conferences, negotiation meetings, examinations and trials in both the Ontario Court of Justice and Superior Court of Justice
• Development of office administration policies and procedures, and business plan focusing on client needs and reasonable approaches to settlement
• Networking and community outreach in order to expand client base including providing educational seminars to local universities, community and professional organizations
• Advocate on behalf of marginalized groups, whilst highlighting cultural and gender issues, including the welfare of new immigrants and refugees