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Children's Law Reform Act

Section 30 - Child Custody and Access - Assistance to Court
(1) The court before which an application is brought in respect of custody of or access to a child, by order, may appoint a person who has technical or professional skill to assess and report to the court on the needs of the child and the ability and willingness of the parties or any of them to satisfy the needs of the child.

[In short, the court may appoint someone to perform an assessment to help the court decide issues of custody and access. This person is normally a child psychologist or a social worker.]

(2) An order may be made under subsection (1) on or before the hearing of the application in respect of custody of or access to the child with or without a request by a party to the application.

(3) The court shall, if possible, appoint a person agreed upon by the parties, but if the parties do not agree the court shall choose and appoint the person.

[Normally, the lawyers are able to agree on someone, as each city has its own recognized experts.] (4) The court shall not appoint a person under subsection (1) unless the person has consented to make the assessment and to report to the court within the period of time specified by the court.

(5) In an order under subsection (1), the court may require the parties, the child and any other person who has been given notice of the proposed order, or any of them, to attend for assessment by the person appointed by the order.

(6) Where a person ordered under this section to attend for assessment refuses to attend or to undergo the assessment, the court may draw such inferences in respect of the ability and willingness of any person to satisfy the needs of the child as the court considers appropriate.

[As usual, the court punishes people who flout its rules or behave badly.]

(7) The person appointed under subsection (1) shall file his or her report with the clerk or local registrar of the court.

(8) The clerk or local registrar of the court shall give a copy of the report to each of the parties and to counsel, if any, representing the child.

(9) The report mentioned in subsection (7) is admissible in evidence in the application.

(10) Any of the parties, and counsel, if any, representing the child, may require the person appointed under subsection (1) to attend as a witness at the hearing of the application.

(11) Upon motion, the court by order may give such directions in respect of the assessment as the court considers appropriate.

(12) The court shall require the parties to pay the fees and expenses of the person appointed under subsection (1).

(13) The court shall specify in the order the proportions or amounts of the fees and expenses that the court requires each party to pay.

(14) The court may relieve a party from responsibility for payment of any of the fees and expenses of the person appointed under subsection (1) where the court is satisfied that payment would cause serious financial hardship to the party.

(15) The appointment of a person under subsection (1) does not prevent the parties or counsel representing the child from submitting other expert evidence as to the needs of the child and the ability and willingness of the parties or any of them to satisfy the needs of the child.

[Most of the time, however, the court will simply accept the recommendations of the assessor. If the assessment is not favourable to you, you have an uphill battle.]
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