How Do I Get a Views of the Child Report?
Views of the child reports
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.
This means, the child's needs and circumstances must be considered. This includes the child's views.
The child's views are usually presented to the court in a views of the child report. This is a written report prepared by a trained, neutral professional, usually a mental health professional, lawyer, mediator or other professional. The professional interviews the child and writes a report that summarizes the child's own views as expressed in their own words. Take note that a views of the child report is not an assessment of the child's needs. It is not an assessment of the parents or their parenting skills. It does not include recommendations about what is in the child's best interests, nor what the parenting arrangements should be.
Parents often disagree about what a child's wishes are, and what the children say to each parent. A views of the child report gives the children an opportunity to express their views to a neutral person who will listen to them and prepare a written report for the parents and for the court.
These reports are different than evaluative reports because they don't evaluate anything; they merely report what the child has told the reporter with no analysis, opinion or commentary. They simply say "I spoke to Brandon and Brandon said..." without any editorializing.
The reports of family justice counsellors are free, but because there is such a demand for these reports and so few family justice counsellors trained to prepare them, there can be a delay of up to six months before the report is available.
The reports of lawyers and mental health professionals can be prepared as quickly as the reporter's calendar allows, sometimes the same day but more typically within a week. The cost of these reports can range from $500 to $3,000, depending on the number of children involved and the reporter's hourly rate. The website of the BC Hear the Child Society lists the society's roster of trained lawyers and mental health professionals and where they practice.
Section 211(1)(b) of the Family Law Act allows the court to go a step further and appoint someone to assess the views of a child in relation to a family law dispute, and to make orders about how the report will be paid for.
When a mental health professional is asked to assess the child's views, the process is more than an interview with the child and a summary of what the child said. For an evaluative report, the assessor is asked to make an assessment of the views. The assessor may want to meet with the child for two or more interviews. The assessor may also speak with the child's parents or other important people in the child's life.
The finished report will present the child's views to the court along with the assessor's evaluation of the strength and consistency of the child's views and the extent to which what the child has said really reflects the child's actual preferences, and comment on the child's maturity level.
Evaluative reports like this are cheaper to get than needs of the child assessments (see the page How Do I Get a Needs of the Child Assessment? for more information on that process), but evaluative reports will still cost somewhere between $2,500 and $5,000. They can usually be completed in two to three months.
Arranging for the views of the child report
The parties can agree that a views of the child report will be prepared, but if they can't agree, an application can be made to court for an order that a report be prepared. If you have to apply to court for such an order, make sure that you do your homework before going to court so that you will be able to tell the judge who you suggest should prepare the report, how much the anticipated costs will be, and their availability. The order will usually specify who is being retained to prepare the report and can also specify how the report will be paid for.
Once the report is ordered or agreed upon, either party should get in touch with the person who will be preparing the report. The reporter will tell you what happens next, when the interviewing process will begin, and when the completed report will likely be ready. The reporter can also give you some tips on how to explain the interview to your children.
You can find more information about views of the child reports in the chapter Children in Family Law Matters.
|The above was last reviewed for legal accuracy by Inga Phillips, July 12, 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.|