Our Story

On March 1, 2021, the Divorce Act amendments added the Duty to use Family Dispute Resolution: lawyers, judges and the parties all carry the duty to resolve family matters using a family dispute resolution process, be it negotiation, collaborative law or mediation, mandated in section 7. With courts experiencing limited access and backed up dockets due to Covid flare-ups, it is an opportune time to find ways to meet this duty!

Seizing the opportunity to pivot, we began to explore family dispute options for the Atlantic region and in 2023, we founded the Family Dispute Resolution Institute (FDRI Atlantic). A group of FDR professionals from Atlantic Canada, came together and decided to approach FDRI Ontario about helping our fledgling group while we learn to fly on the eastern winds. FDRIO has an excellent reputation for it’s vibrant activity, on-going training opportunities, professional designations (mediator, parenting coordinator, and arbitrator), annual conferences, and its highly respected members.

FDRIA was founded in 2023 to advance the knowledge and use of family dispute resolution (FDR) in Atlantic Canada. Why is this mission important and why now? It is because the cost in time, emotional upset and money of resolving family disputes often places an unbearable burden on individuals and society. On average 40% of Canadian marriages end in divorce. Many couples do not marry and many parents do not even live together. This means many of us and our loved ones must deal with separation and divorce and the often-difficult issues that arise related to children, property and financial support. FDR offers a cheaper, faster and more humane way to resolve those issues.

A key part of our work is an outreach campaign to provide information to the public about what FDR is, how it can help all of us, and who is able to help us with it. We will work with interested professionals who now practice FDR, or who wish to do so, to help them to access training and experience for their FDR work.

Our mission is to help ordinary people achieve a positive outcome during distressing periods of their lives. FDR will give individuals and families greater control over how their issues are dealt with. FDR will assist courts and other professionals who help people deal with family issues.  FDRIA will work to make FDR better known, more accessible and more effective throughout the Atlantic Provinces. By joining FDRIA as a member, you can be part of that crucial work

Our Board

Rhona Buchan – Chair,
Newfoundland & Labrador

Buchan Law & Dispute Resolution
B.A., LL.B, LL.M, FDR Pro (FDRIA) Accredited Family Mediator (OAFM)

Rhona Buchan is a lawyer and an accredited family mediator. After 20 years of practising in courts, Rhona opened Buchan Law & Dispute Resolution in 2023 in St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador to provide a specialized focus on out-of-court dispute resolution, including family law mediation. She is also a Senior Associate with the consulting firm Goss Gilroy Inc. Rhona holds a Masters of Law (LL.M) in Dispute Resolution from Osgoode Hall Law School, York University (2021), a LL.B from the University of Ottawa (2000), a B.A. from Memorial University of NL (1996). She has been a member of the Bar of Newfoundland and Labrador since 2001. Rhona practised with Legal Aid NL from 2001 – 2021, litigating family law, child protection law and criminal law, in provincial, supreme and appeal courts throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, including in indigenous communities. At Legal Aid NL she held the positions of Area Director, Staff Solicitor, and Duty Counsel at the Supreme Court of NL Family Division.

Rhona is passionate about access to justice and the role of dispute resolution processes. She became the founding chair of FDRIA (Family Dispute Resolution Institute Atlantic) a professional network to advance knowledge and use of family dispute resolution in Atlantic Canada, and since 2020 she has taught the Dispute Resolution section of the Bar Admission course for the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador.

In the rest of her life, Rhona teaches yoga, is a parent of twin teens, an active member of school councils, a keen traveller, and an actor, having graduated in Theatre Performance from Toronto Metropolitan University (1991).
Daphne Dumont – Vice Chair,
Prince Edward Island

Cox and Palmer
B.A., LL.B., FDR Pro (FDRIA)

Daphne is a family lawyer who has practiced law in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, for over forty years. Her interest in Alternative Dispute Resolution led her to become a fully certified Collaborative Family Law practitioner, and she has successfully completed many cases using this effective cooperative method. She enjoys helping clients obtain fair separation agreements without the need for formal court hearings, or for lengthy (and often slow) written negotiations.

She has held many positions with the national Canadian Bar Association; she worked on their Legal Aid Committee for many years, and on their Task Force on Gender Equality in the legal profession, led by Justice Bertha Wilson of the Supreme Court of Canada. In the year 2000 she became national President of the Bar Association, and focused her energies on improving access to justice for disadvantaged Canadians.

Daphne received the Order of Canada for her life-long work on access to justice. She also received the Governor General’s Award in Honour of the Person’s Case in 2009, for work on women’s rights, and for being a founding mother of LEAF (the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund) which conducts Supreme Court test case litigation to give effect to women’s Charter guarantees.

Daphne is very happy to be part of a new Atlantic-wide organization of ADR professionals.
Janet Tucker – Treasurer,
Newfoundland & Labrador

Jazz Mediation and Tucker Law
B.A., LL.B., FDR Pro (FDRIA) Comprehensive Famiy Mediator – Level 1 (FMC)

Janet Tucker is a family lawyer and mediator.  Janet has practiced family law since 2008, and she started Jazz Mediation in 2017 after discovering a passion for mediation as the best alternative to the adversarial court process for resolving family disputes.  Mediation is affordable, preserves ongoing relationships, keeps the focus on the best interests of the children and allows the parties to make the decisions that affect their family.  Janet is excited to be a board member of FRDIA as she hopes to see FDR grow in the Atlantic provinces, both an increase in trained mediators and an increase in awareness of mediation so that more people going through separation/divorce can benefit from this process.  
William English – Secretary
Newfoundland & Labrador

Retired Judge, Provincial Judge of NL
B.A., LL.B. LL.M (DR)

Bill English is a retired provincial court judge who worked in Labrador and throughout the province for almost 20 years. He sees the great benefits of early and less expensive dispute resolution for families who have to deal with disputes among them.  He admires those who do that work.  He will encourage others to join the effort by promoting training in, and access to, family dispute resolution throughout this province.  Bill worked as a lawyer with a broad range of practice before and after his work as a judge.  His primary areas of interest, besides FDR, are indigenous, criminal and family law.
Melissa May
Newfoundland & Labrador

Poole Althouse
B.A., LL.B., FDR Pro (FDRIA)

Melissa’s practice is focused primarily on litigation and mediation. She spends the majority of her time assisting clients with separation and divorce in Western Newfoundland and in Labrador.
Chris Vaughn
Newfoundland & Labrador

B.A., LL.B.