Separation and divorce can have a significant impact on children. This impact can be magnified when there is conflict between parents. Section 30 of the Children’s Law reform Act allows a court to order custody and access arrangements in situations where there is a psychological issue with a child. In a recent case before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, the parents of a child looked to update the assessment. The case provides a good opportunity to review when this might be done.

The relationship between the parents

The child, who was five-years-old at the time of the hearing suffered from the conflict between her parents, who were attempting to co-parent her. The father sought a s.30 assessment when applying for divorce, with the mother eventually consenting. The report, dated January 15, 2018, made a series of recommendations with respect to parenting time, including a parallel decision-making scheme. The report also said,

“In the event that this parallel parenting arrangement is not successful, and, if the parental conflict does not subside after the conclusion of this Section 30 assessment, an updated assessment should be considered with a view to determining any changes to the custody, decision-making and residential schedule provisions of this parenting plan.”

The parents did not follow this advice, and instead attempted to make decisions together rather than in a parallel fashion. The child’s issues did not improve, and the mother brought a motion seeking an update parenting assessment. The father, however, did not agree with the mother’s position. He argued that the relationship between he and the mother had not changed, and there would be no reason to subject the child to the process again.

When should there be an updated assessment?

The court noted that updated assessments could be ordered where there have been changes since the last assessment. Common law has held that when one parent objects to a second assessment, it should only come if there are “significant developments”. The court added that the passage of time alone is not enough to order an updated assessment.

In applying the facts before it, the court determined an updated assessment would not be necessary. The court was not convinced that the conflict between the parents had changed at all, nor had the child’s issues. They also failed to implement the parallel decision-making scheme recommended by them. The court agreed with the father that subjecting the child to another assessment could be damaging.

To speak with an experienced Windsor lawyer about child custody or support, call 519.973.1500 or contact us online. Many of our clients are referred to us by former and current clients, and also by lawyers, counsellors and other professionals.