Custody and Access Assessments  

The purpose of a Custody and Access Assessment is to provide information to the Court to assist the judge to decide the best parenting arrangements for children whose parents cannot agree on parenting time and decision making. Custody and access assessments are usually completed under Section 30 of the Children's Law Reform Act or on Consent of both parties. A custody and access assessment involves a detailed investigation of a family's situation through extensive interviews of parents, the children and other significant family members and community contacts, such as the child's school and doctor. Extensive observation of each parent with the children will take place in various settings.

The information collected is used to evaluate the children's relationship with each parent and to make recommendations in the form of a Parenting Plan that meets the best interests of the children. Generally the recommendations (parenting plan) and findings of the assessment may provide a basis for settlement of the issues and this is explored with the parents and counsel before writing a comprehensive assessment report. The assessor will usually write a report for the Court, and the Judge will use the report to determine custody and access of the children. Usually the parents are responsible for the costs of the assessment.

Assessments typically take between 40 to 50 hours and span three to four months. This may vary from family to family, depending on the particular circumstances of the situation, and any unprecedented developments that cannot always be anticipated in advance.

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