Report of the Children's Lawyer
Custody/Access - Introduction
Clinical investigators in the Office of the Children's Lawyer are authorized by law to conduct investigations and prepare reports under section 112 of the Courts of Justice Act.
They collect and evaluate information from family members and others who have been involved with the family to help understand what parenting arrangement would be best for the children. They assist families to look at various options that will meet the needs of the child/ren and the family. They may prepare reports for the court with recommendations that consider the interests and wishes of children. They may be called to give evidence, at court, based on our report.
What is a Custody/Access Report
A custody/access report focuses on the interests of your child/ren based on their needs and wishes and your ability to meet their needs.
A custody/access report provides a picture of your family's history, current situation and parenting plans for the future.
A custody/access report may provide recommendations to help you make decisions about ongoing parenting plans.
The Custody/Access Report Process
Once the Office of the Children's Lawyer has agreed to carry out a Children's Lawyer report, you and your lawyer will receive a letter with the name of the clinical investigator who will contact you.
The clinical investigator will arrange to meet with you and your family. Some interviews may be at the clinical investigator's office and some may be at your home. Your children will be observed with family members and may be interviewed privately, if appropriate. The number and location of interviews will be determined by the clinical investigator.
The clinical investigator will ask you to sign release forms that will be sent to "collateral sources" These may include the children's school, daycare provider, doctor, community agencies, police, counsellor, etc. The forms allow such sources to share information with the clinical investigator that will assist with the evaluation.
During the process you and the other party may decide to come to an agreement concerning the children. The clinical investigator may help arrange a settlement or disclosure meeting which may include you and your lawyers.
If a report is completed, it is filed with the court and copies are sent to the lawyers. The report becomes part of the court record. Each party has the right to send a formal dispute of the report to the court and the Office of the Children's Lawyer.
The Children's Interviews
Clinical investigators who prepare Children's Lawyer reports regularly interview and observe children. It is best if this can be done in a comfortable and familiar environment. The clinical investigator understands that the children may be experiencing many different feelings about the separation and the family situation. Depending upon the ages of the children, the clinical investigator may have the children participate in structured play, draw pictures, or tell stories in order to talk about their feelings.
Parents often want to know, "Will the clinical investigator ask my children where they want to live?" Children's thoughts, feelings and experiences are important and will be discussed. However, the clinical investigator will not ask the children to choose between parents. This would not be fair to the children and would only keep them in the middle of the dispute.
- Ask the clinical investigator questions about the process. You may to want to write down your questions.
- Prepare school, health and other information that you think will be helpful. This could include names and telephone numbers.
- Ask for information about reading material, separation and divorce workshops, counselling, and other resources.
- Tell your children about the process. The clinical investigator can suggest approaches for different age levels.
If you have any questions about the delivery of clinical investigator services by the Office of the Children's Lawyer, please call:
or Fax: (416) 314-8050