Does the Family Court Judge Have to Follow the Custody/Access Assessment for a 13 Year Old Child? What if the Child Does Not Agree

child in a nasty divorce in family court

Custody/access assessments are not binding on judges. That means judges do not have to follow them.  The report is only one piece of evidence, and the psychologist is only witness at a trial.  The judge has to consider everything.  For all the factors that a judge has to consider, listen to this podcast and read this webpage

At 13 years old, what a child wants is a factor that the judge has to consider, and it may be very important to the judge.  This webpage discusses what voice a child should have in family law or divorce proceedings. Here is a good video on the involvement of children in deciding matters in a divorce.  You can also listen to this podcast on whether what a child says matters in family court.  

Judges are becoming more and more interested in what children have to say in separation and divorce.  If the child has a clear preference, that is the result of pressure (intentional or not) from one party, that can be very important to how the judge decides.

If you have a report in your favour and your child's views are in your favour, then you should make a formal offer to settle on the same terms as the report.  If the judge agrees with the report after the trial, the judge can order your spouse to pay almost all of your legal fees from the day you made the offer until the day the judge made the order.  If that order comes after a trial, then your spouse could owe you a lot of money.  There may be some other strategies to get what you want while avoiding a trial, but those would depend on some very particular facts in your case. So, you should speak to a family lawyer about your situation.

You should also get a copy of this easy-to-understand $20 book on Ontario Family Law.   It explains the court process, and gives several tips for how to succeed in court, and goes over the basics of Ontario Family Law so you have some idea of what your rights are.  It goes over everything in this post in more detail.  It may even be on sale on Amazon right now. 

© John P. Schuman 2014