How Do I Get a Views of the Child Report?

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Views of the child reports

Under s. 37(1) of the Family Law Act, when the court or the parties are making orders or agreements about guardianship, parenting arrangementsA term under the ''Family Law Act'' which describes the arrangements for parental responsibilities and parenting time among guardians, made in an order or agreement. "Parenting arrangements" does not include contact. See "contact," "guardian," "parental responsibilities" and "parenting time." or contactA term under the ''Family Law Act'' that describes the visitation rights of a person who is not a guardian with a child. Contact may be provided by court order or by the agreement among the child's guardians who have parental responsibility for determining contact. See "guardian" and "parental responsibilities." with a childA person who is younger than the legal age of majority, 19 in British Columbia. See "age of majority.", the parties and the court must consider the best interests of the child only. Under s. 37(2), this means that all of the child's needs and circumstances must be considered, including the child's views.

The child's views can be presented to the court in a number of ways, including through the parties' evidenceFacts or proof of facts presented to a judge at a hearing or trial. Evidence can be given through the oral testimony of witnesses, in writing as business records and other documents, or in the form of physical objects. Evidence must be admissible according to the rules of court and the rules of evidence. See "circumstantial evidence," "hearsay," and "testimony.", letters the child might write to the court, interviews with the judgeA person appointed by the federal or provincial government to manage and decide court proceedings in an impartial manner, independent of influence by the parties, the government or agents of the government. The decisions of a judge are binding upon the parties to the proceeding, subject to appeal. or a lawyerA person licensed to practice law in a particular jurisdiction. See "barrister and solicitor." appointed to represent the child. There are plenty of advantages and disadvantages to each. Views of the child reports are a good alternativeIn law, a phrase used to indicate secondary relief or a secondary ground of relief in a claim or application, usually presented as an option to the primary relief or primary ground of relief. For example, "I'd like to have have all of the house but, in the alternative, I'll take half." See “motion," “pleadings," and “relief.". Views of the child reports give children an opportunity to express their views to a neutral person who will listen to them and prepare a written report for their parents and the court.

These reports are prepared by trained, neutral professionals, usually a mental health professional, lawyer, mediator or someone else with special training. The professional will interview the child, sometimes more than once, and then write a report summarizing what the child has said, using the child's own words as much as possible. These reports are different than other reports because all they talk about is what the child has said, and they don't provide the professional's assessment of the child's best interests, or even an opinion about what the child has said. They simply repeat the child's statements to the professional.

Cost and time

Family justice counsellors can prepare views of the child reports for 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.

Evaluative reports

Views of the child reports are non-evaluative because they don't offer an assessment or opinionIn law, a lawyer's advice to their client; a lawyer's analysis of a legal problem; the views of an expert as to a matter at issue in an action. See "expert evidence" and "opinion evidence.". As a result, they may not be appropriate in cases where an assessment is needed. This might be the case when the parents are concerned about the child's mental health or are worried that the child might be alienated or estranged from a parentIn family law, the natural or adoptive father or mother of a child; may also include stepparents, depending on the circumstances and the applicable legislation; may include the donors of eggs or sperm and surrogate mothers, depending on the circumstances and the terms of any assisted reproduction agreement. See "adoptive parent," "natural parent" and "stepparent.".

In cases like this, s. 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 professional will do a lot more than simply speak to the child. The assessor may also give the child a test to complete and speak to the child's parents and the other important people in the child's life.

An evaluative report like this will present the child's views to the court, along with the professional's evaluation of the child's maturity and ability to express herself, the strength and consistency of the child's views and the extent to which the child's statements really reflect the child's actual preferences.

Evaluative views of the child 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 can 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. They then need to agree on whether the report will be evaluative or non-evaluative, and pick someone to prepare it.

If they can't agree, either partyIn law, a person named as an applicant, claimant, respondent or third party in a court proceeding; someone asserting a claim in a court proceeding or against whom a claim has been brought. See "action" and "litigant." can apply to court for an orderA mandatory direction of the court, binding and enforceable upon the parties to a court proceeding. An "interim order" is a temporary order made following the hearing of an interim application. A "final order" is a permanent order, made following the trial of the court proceeding or the parties' settlement, following which the only recourse open to a dissatisfied party is to appeal. See "appeal," "consent order," "decision" and "declaration." 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 can tell the judge what kind of report you want, who you think should prepare it, how much the cost will be and when it can be completed. The order will usually specify who is being retained to prepare the report and can also say how the report will be paid for.

Once the report is ordered or agreed upon, one of the parties should get in touch with the professional who will be preparing the report. The professional will tell you what happens next, when the interviewing process will begin, and when the completed report will likely be ready. The professional 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.


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