The purpose of an assessment, otherwise known as a Section 30 Assessment under the Children’s Law Reform Act is to obtain a mental health professional’s observations and assessment of a family’s situation. The assessor then provides recommendations that are in the children’s best interests with respect to the custody and access issues.
These assessments can be initiated at the request of a lawyer, the consent of both parties, and/or by court order. If both parties do not agree to participate in the assessment, a court order for the assessment will need to be obtained.
During the course of the assessment, the parties can expect to meet with the assessor a number of times for interviews and observation sessions. The children will also be interviewed and collaterals will be contacted, such as doctors, schools, child welfare agencies, and police services.
These assessments are rather lengthy and comprehensive and generally take three to four months to complete. Upon completion of the assessment, the assessor will identify the needs of the children, what each party can do to meet their children’s needs appropriately, and what parenting time schedule may be appropriate for the children. The assessor will also discuss what each party can do to improve the situation for their children.
The assessor’s recommendations and findings are provided at the end of the process by way of a verbal disclosure meeting with both parties and their respective counsel. A full report of the assessor’s findings will only be provided if requested by one or both parties, or in the event the matter proceeds in the litigation process.