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"What is a child custody assessment?"
Ontario Child Custody Assessments
This is when a child psychologist, psychiatrist or social worker meets with all parties to evaluate and recommend who should receive child custody and access. The professional meets with you, your children, your spouse, you and the children together, your spouse and the children together, and any extended family members. The professional then prepares a report with recommendations regarding child custody and access.
"How long does an assessment take?"
Between 1 and 3 months, depending on how complicated your situation is.
"How much does an assessment cost?"
Normally, between $4,000 and $10,000. The assessment is normally paid for by both spouses.
"Wow! I can't afford that kind of money. Is there a cheaper way?"
A government agency in Ontario, Canada called the Children's Lawyer can also provide an assessment. This is free. However, the Ontario Children's Lawyer may choose not to get involved in your case. As well, you do not have a choice over who will perform the assessment.
"How important is the assessment report?"
It will be very influential in the court's decision-making about child custody and access. As well, many cases are settled on the basis of what the assessment report recommends.
"That's a serious problem, as the report recommends that my spouse gets child custody. What should I do?"
At this point, you must seriously consider whether it truly is in your children's best interests that you get child custody. If it is, a family lawyer can help you show the court why the assessor's report is wrong.
Read the section of the Children's Law Reform Act regarding custody assessments.