How Do I Get a Needs of the Child Assessment?
Needs of the child assessments
Under s. 37(1) of the Family Law Act, when the court or the parties are making orders and agreements about guardianship, parenting arrangements, or contact with a child, the parties and the court must consider the best interests of the child only. Under s. 211, the court can appoint a person to assess one or more of:
- the needs of a child in relation to a family law dispute,
- the views of a child in relation to a family law dispute, or
- the ability and willingness of a party to a family law dispute to satisfy the needs of a child.
These reports, called needs of the child assessments, were formerly known as "section fifteen reports" or "custody and access reports" under the old Family Relations Act. They can be very helpful in resolving a dispute about the care of children and the court will usually give a great deal of weight to the assessor's opinion.
Picking the assessor
Needs of the child assessments are routinely prepared by family justice counsellors, social workers, registered clinical counsellors, psychologists and psychiatrists.
Family justice counsellors are employees of the Ministry of Justice based in registries of the Provincial Court. Their reports are free, but because there is such a high demand for these reports and there are so few family justice counsellors who are trained to prepare them, the delay from requesting a report to getting it done might be anywhere from eight to 14 months.
In general, private reports prepared by social works and mental health professionals can be done faster, but they come at a cost. The reports prepared by psychologists typically cost between $6,000 and $10,000.
Arranging for the assessment
The parties can agree that a needs of the child assessment will be prepared, but if they can't agree, an application can be made to court for an order that an assessment be prepared. The order will usually specify exactly who is being retained to prepare the report and can also specify how the report will be paid for.
Once the assessment is ordered or agreed upon, either party can get in touch with the person who will be performing the assessment. The assessor will tell you what happens next, when the interviewing process will begin, and when the completed assessment will likely be ready.
You can find more information about needs of the child assessments in the chapter Children in Family Law Matters.
|The above was last reviewed for legal accuracy by Thomas Wallwork, May 9, 2017.|
|JP Boyd on Family Law © John-Paul Boyd and Courthouse Libraries BC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada Licence.|