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Child Custody and Access Assessments

Continued from Child Custody Assessments

Ottawa Judge, Madam Justice Blishen stated that a parent’s angry outbursts and irrational behaviour were not enough to be considered a clinical issue.

Cases where child custody assessment ordered

Goldberg v Goldberg, [1996] O.J. 3205 (Gen. Div.)
In this case, the father alleged that the mother was manipulating the children not to want access with their father. There was no discussion of clinical issues. A child custody assessment was ordered, despite the fact that the Office of the Children’s Lawyer had been involved and had filed an affidavit. The court found the mandate of the Office of the Children’s Lawyer to be to narrow (namely, “to provide assistance in confirming the views of the children”) and an assessment would be more helpful in determining whether the mother was alienating the children from their father or not.

D.M.M. v D.P.L., [1999] A.J. No. 30 (Alta. Q.B.)
In this case, an assessment was ordered given the allegations of abuse, violence, mental instability, police involvement in this matter (with facilitating neutral drop-off/pick up) and the parent’s conflicting affidavit material and just the general high-conflict situation. The case is most useful for its statement of what the purpose of a child custody assessment should be:
In my view an assessment should not be ordered automatically. Mr DPL has the onus of justifying the request. He is required to establish that the home study is likely to provide evidence that pertains to the welfare of the child and would not be discoverable otherwise.
Liao v Liao, [2003] O.J. No. 5063 (S.C.J.)
In this case, there was extreme bitterness on both sides. The mother claimed that the father was a workaholic physician who was never interested in his children and had violent temper tantrums (although she admitted that this was never against her or the children). The father claimed that the mother exhibited signs of being mentally unstable. He also argued that in the wife’s previous relationship, she manufactured fears of violence and abuse to gain a tactical edge in the litigation (he showed this with an affidavit from her former husband). The court stated that although there was no clear clinical issue, the parties were so diametrically opposed in their views of the other that a neutral third party would be helpful to the trier of facts.

Continued at Child Custody Assessments

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