At the court mentions, the party who files a personal protection order (PPO) application (the applicant) and the party against whom the application is filed (the respondent) may be directed to see a court family specialist (CFS) for a counselling session.
Depending on the nature of the case and the number of parties involved, the CFS may conduct a family conference instead.
At the counselling or family conference session, the CFS will:
The CFS will take turns to speak with the applicant and the respondent individually. If required, a support person such as a social worker or a family member may be involved in your session with the CFS.
The session with the CFS will be conducted in a private room and the details of the session will not be disclosed to other family members of the case. Only details provided in the application form and the outcome of the session will be made known to the parties involved. If necessary, the CFS will seek each parties' consent before sharing any information which may be helpful for the other parties to know.
For a family conference, the CFS may decide to see all parties in a joint session or to see parties individually subject to the nature of the case and the dynamics between the parties involved.
During the counselling session or family conference, the applicant or respondent may:
If the CFS assesses that there is an imminent risk of harm to either party or their other family members, or if there are allegations of serious child abuse, the CFS is obligated to alert the relevant agencies and persons (such as other family members).
A counselling session or family conference with the CFS will be conducted on the same day as the court mentions to determine if there can be a resolution. If there are no slots available on the same day, the session will take place on another date.
A counselling session with the CFS involving only two parties may take around 90 minutes (excluding waiting time). A family conference involves multiple parties and may take around half a day to complete.
If there is no resolution after the counselling session or family conference with the CFS, the case may proceed to a hearing scheduled on a later date.