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Question about a "Custody and Access" Report

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  • Question about a "Custody and Access" Report

    My ex is requesting a Custody and Access Report and my lawyer left me a message today telling me that we have to discuss the parameters and determine who participates in the process. I wonder if anyone else has gone through this (or a Section 15 report) and if they could give me advice. What parameters should I consider, what people should I look to include in the discussion? What information or feedback can I expect from this report and how is a custody decision ultimately made if it is not done by consent? If I don’t agree with the findings, how can I challenge it?

    The last time this came up, my ex’s lawyer said they’d pay for it but in this economic climate he may take that offer back. I’m a student and I rely on legal aid here in BC, so this may mean we’ll have to use a family justice counsellor.

    Some background info:
    We share guardianship, but I have custody. The children spend the majority of time with me although he has, from what I’ve been told, reasonable access (every Wednesday night, every other weekend, alternating long weekends and alternating weeks during summer). The children, both boys, are 10 and 12 years old. Their birthdays are coming up in July and September so by the time we get around to this they may be 11 and 13.

    We’ve been separated (was common law) for almost 10 years now. We’ve been back and forth to court numerous times, mostly he tries to get child support reduced. Occasionally he’s tried to get custody changed – last time was in 2005 and the time before that 2003, both times his application was denied.

    I feel that when the boys are with him he puts pressure on them to say that they want to live with him and that they say they do to keep him happy. When they are with me, I get a slightly different story, but I don’t talk about it too much because I don’t want to put pressure on them they way he does – maybe I should, I don’t know. Last year my oldest stopped walking for several months and the psychologist said it was a stress related response and likely due to the pressure his dad was putting on him at that time on this same topic (of living with him more). We don’t agree on much and their dad brings them into our disagreements, I used to too when I tried to correct the misinformation he’s fed them. I don’t do it now because I don’t want to put my son back into a wheelchair again. I believe their dad practices a form of parental alienation on them but that’s only my interpretation of the situation (based on some informed reading), not a professional one.

  • #2
    A Section 15 report is ordered by a judge when he or she needs more information to make a decision about what custody and access arrangements are best for a child . You or your husband or partner can also ask the judge to order a Section 15 report.

    I think the lawyer is looking to understand all relevant persons that would benefit (or have something of significants to present) for this report/assessment. Generally it is a meeting with you, your husband or partner, and the children separately, and then with each parent with the children. Sometimes the person preparing the report will visit each parent’s house to evaluate the home. If it is a Psychologist, they may have you complete some tests to evaluate you. They may also talk to friends, extended family, teachers and daycare workers about your family.


    • #3
      Thanks for the quick response. Can you tell me anything about a "Views of the Child" report? How different or similar is it to the Sec. 15 or the Custody and Access report? What kinds of experts do these reports and do they have the experience to probe for things like parental alienation?
      Last edited by katay; 03-19-2009, 11:38 AM. Reason: fixed spelling errors


      • #4
        I believe that this would follow pretty much the same thought process with the expectation that it would provide information on the desires of the children involved provided they are mature enough to participate etc.


        • #5
          Here's a good thread on the Office of the Children's Lawyer and custody assessments in Ontario:


          • #6
            Thanks for this link, it was very helpful, especially because of the "calm" focus on the kids that was clearly evident in the dialogue -- a good reminder to keep at the fore when you're caught up in the mostly impersonal legal system. I particularly liked the follow-up post with the admonition to make getting out of the system as quickly as possible a key goal. I've been caught in this (as a respondent) for 10 years now and it has, unfortunately, come to define me far more than I'd ever imagined or want.

            On a separate note, the dynamics of this sort of thing change as the children get older (my kids are 10 and 12 now). I was particularly glad to hear that the people who do these assessment reports are qualified to catch situations of coersion. I'm just worried that lack of money may mean that we are dealing with a justice counsellor rather than a social worker or psychologist.

            Anyway, thanks again.


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