When it comes to family law cases, parents must be aware that their children’s tastes and wants may significantly impact how the case turns out. Parents can take steps to ensure that their child’s wishes are heard and considered by the courts. Here are some essential things to know about having your child’s wishes heard in a family law case:
Understanding The Best Interests Of The Child
Before discussing how to ensure a child’s wishes are heard, it is crucial to understand the legal framework guiding family law cases. The primary consideration in any family law case is the child’s best interests. This means that the court will decide based on what is best for the child, considering factors such as age, health, and emotional well-being.
The court will consider various factors when determining the child’s best interests, including the child’s relationship with each parent, the child’s relationship with siblings and other family members, and the child’s wishes and preferences. It is important to note that the child’s wishes and preferences are just one of many factors that the court will consider.
Encouraging Your Child to Share Their Wishes
If you believe your child’s wishes are important and should be heard by the court, encourage your youngster to talk to you and the court about their feelings as a first step. This may be easier said than done, depending on the child’s age.
Younger children may have difficulty expressing their wishes and may need the assistance of a family counsellor or other professional to help them articulate their thoughts and feelings. Older children may be more able to express their wishes directly but may be reluctant if they feel they will not be taken seriously.
It is critical to provide a secure and encouraging environment for your youngster to express their desires and emotions. This may involve talking to your child non-judgmentally and empathetically and reassuring them that their wishes will be heard and respected.
Working with a Family Lawyer
If you believe the court should hear your child’s wishes, working with a family lawyer with experience in this area is essential. A family lawyer can represent your child’s interests in court and assist you in understanding the legal procedure.
Your family or child custody lawyer can help you prepare your case and can assist you in presenting your child’s wishes to the court clearly and persuasively. They can also help you navigate any challenges during the legal process, such as disagreements between parents or disputes over custody and access.
Making A Section 211 Report
In British Columbia, the court may appoint a Section 211 reporter to assist in determining the child’s best interests. A Section 211 report is a written report prepared by a qualified professional, such as a psychologist or social worker, appointed by the court to assess the child’s needs and make recommendations about custody and access.
The Section 211 reporter will typically interview the child, parents, and any other relevant parties, such as extended family members or caregivers. The reporter will then prepare a report outlining their findings and recommendations.
The Section 211 report may be essential to ensure the court hears and considers your child’s wishes. The reporter will typically ask the child about their wishes and preferences and include this information in their report.
Mediation is when a neutral third party helps parents reach a mutually acceptable agreement about custody and access issues. Mediation can be an effective way to ensure that your child’s wishes are heard and considered, as it allows both parents to work together to find a solution that is in the child’s best interests.
During mediation, the child’s wishes and preferences will be considered, and the mediator will work with both parents to develop a parenting plan that reflects the child’s needs and preferences. If an agreement is reached, it can be presented to the court for approval.
If mediation is unsuccessful or other issues cannot be resolved through mediation, the case may proceed to court. In court, the judge will consider various factors, including the child’s wishes and preferences, when deciding custody and access.
If your child is old enough and mature enough to express their wishes in court, they may be asked to do so. Alternatively, the court may appoint a Section 211 reporter to prepare a report that includes the child’s wishes and preferences.
It’s crucial to remember that the court will base its choices on what’s in the child’s best interests. and will not simply follow the child’s wishes if they are not in the child’s best interests. The court may also consider other factors, such as the child’s relationship with each parent and any history of domestic violence or abuse.
Parents can take steps to ensure that their child’s wishes are heard and considered in a family law case. This may involve encouraging the child to share their wishes, working with a family lawyer, making a Section 211 report, attending mediation, and attending court. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure that the child’s best interests are served and that a parenting plan is developed that reflects the child’s needs and preferences.
If you need legal support in matters related to family law, look no further! Dreyer and Associates are here to provide you with the best legal advice and representation in the Fraser Valley and the Lower Mainland. Our experienced lawyers are committed to protecting the best interests of you and your family. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and let us help you navigate complex family law issues.