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What is a child custody and access assessment? Why would I want one?
An assessment is a report prepared by an expert, called an assessor, to help you and your partner and the court make decisions about custody, access, and parenting arrangements. Custody and access assessors can be psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists, or mental health professionals.
An assessment gives the judge independent evidence about your child's wishes or what is in the best interests of the child.
There may be one where:
- You and your partner agree to arrange a private assessment.
- The court orders you and your partner to have a private assessment.
- The court requests the Office of the Children's Lawyer to investigate and prepare a report.
A judge generally orders an assessment only where it is necessary to help them make decisions about custody, access, and parenting arrangements.
An assessment can be done before or during a court case.
You and your partner can hire a private assessor. The court can also order you to get a private assessment done.
An assessment can be very expensive. You have to pay for a private assessment. You can pay for it yourself or you and your partner can share the cost.
The assessor speaks with you, your partner, your child, and other important adults in your child's life such as teachers, doctors, new partners, and relatives. They observe how your child interacts with you and your partner. They put all this information into a report and make a recommendation on what they think is best for your child.
This report can be used as evidence in your court case.
Office of the Children's Lawyer
The Office of the Children's Lawyer (OCL) is a government-funded office that represents children under the age of 18 in some court cases dealing with custody and access.
The OCL has clinicians and lawyers across Ontario. OCL clinicians prepare custody and access reports and OCL lawyers represent children in court.
The OCL must agree to take your case. They only get involved after you start a court case. You do not pay for these services.