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Parenting Time and Child Custody

Vancouver Parenting Custody Section 211 Reports are crucial to helping parents and their children move forward successfully after separation. Our top rated* Vancouver family lawyers can assist you  in coming up with a plan for ensuring Vancouver Parenting Custody Section 211 Reports properly protect you and your children. Call us at 1-877-602-9900 to meet with our family lawyers in Vancouver, Calgary, Surrey, Kelowna, Fort St John and Winnipeg.

Vancouver Parenting Custody Section 211 Reports 1-877-602-9900

In the Recent BC case of C.E.M. v. S.E.T., 2017 BCPC 382 the Court reviewed when and how section 211 parenting capacity reports should be prepared. Vancouver Parenting Custody Section 211 Reports have a relatively low threshold to be obtained as set out in C.E.M v S.E.T as follows:

[4]           The threshold for consideration of a s. 211 report is relatively low.  Having had conduct of this file on September 20, 2017, upon reviewing the file and after hearing the submissions, it is abundantly clear to me that it is in the best interest of the Child to have a s. 211 report prepared.  The mother initially objected to such a report, advising the court that she has binders of reports and documentation from caregivers, counsellors and doctors that the court would be able to make a reasonably informed decision, thus saving the expense of such a report.  I respectfully disagree.  Given the acrimony between the parties and the voluminous amounts of material already in the court file, a s. 211 report is a neutral, unbiased and objective conduit for the court to assist in making a determination at the upcoming trial the best interest for the Child.  Binders of materials not only adds additional time to an already tightly scheduled trial, but would also not provide a concise and objective analysis required for a s. 211 report regarding the Child, approved by a neutral and court qualified expert.

[5]           Counsel for C.E.M., has presented to the court the decision of Keith v MacMillan 2014 BCSC 1352 (CanLII)wherein The Honourable Madam Justice Donegan carefully considered the value of a s. 211 report.

[67]        A broad and general approach should be taken to applications for s. 211 reports. The threshold justifying an order is quite low. In Smith v. Smith, 2014 BCSC 61 (CanLII), Mr. Justice Affleck observed the following at paras. 11 through 14:

[11]      The only factor of importance for this Court on this application is an endeavour to determine the best interests of the children. I have no doubt the parties love their daughters and the difficulties of dealing with the present situation must be causing great emotional pain and turmoil. However, I am concerned that the strains between them have deprived them of the capacity to view their children’s’ interests dispassionately. There may be compelling reasons why Jayden refuses to have any contact with her mother but that is a most unusual circumstance. Without an investigation of the reasons for that refusal by a person qualified to do so, this Court will not be in a position to come to an informed decision on the present applications.

[12]      I echo the words of Mr. Justice Bernard quoted by Master Keighley, in T.N. v. J.C.N., 2013 BCSC 1870 (CanLII) at para. 15, on hearing an application for a report to be prepared pursuant to s. 15 of the Family Relations Act, R.S.B.C., 1996, c. 128, which reports now are prepared pursuant to s. 211 of the Family Law Act. That paragraph reads as follows:

[15]      In the case of Marsden v. Bercovitz, unreported, Bernard J. said as follows at paras. 16-18:

16. In keeping with my reading of the cases cited by the appellant, I am strongly inclined to the view that a broad and generous approach ought to be taken to applications for s. 15 reports, and that the threshold justifying the ordering of such ought to be set quite low. It will, generally speaking, only be the cost of such a report which will raise a legitimate countervailing concern.

17. Section 15 reports are, almost invariably, a valuable source of information to a court faced with the onerous task of making fundamentally important decisions about the welfare of a child in the wake of marital breakdown. To the extent that there is an intrusion into the lives of the parties and the child, such is in my view far outweighed by the probative value of the evidence to issues which are of great significance to all concerned.

18. Basing decisions about matters of custody and access upon the evidence of two often antagonistic parents is, at best, very challenging. It is most certainly not desirable if it can be avoided. Section 15 reports introduce much needed elements of neutrality and objectivity into an emotionally-charged arena fraught with witness bias. Not surprisingly, parents fighting over custody and access are rarely, if ever, able to testify objectively about what is in their child’s best interests. It is, perhaps, too much to ask. A s. 15 report is the answer.

Section 211(1) of the Family Law Act, permits the court to appoint a person to “assess, for the purposes of a proceeding under Part 4, one or more of the following:  a) the needs of a child in relation to a family law dispute; b) the views of a child in relation to a family law dispute; c) the ability and willingness of a party to a family law dispute to satisfy the needs of a child” and s. 211(2) states:

(2)  A person appointed under subsection (1)

(a)  must be a family justice counsellor, a social worker or another person approved by the court, and

(b)  unless each party consents, must not have had any previous connection with the parties.

 

[6]           As carefully considered in the Keith, supra, decision, notably at paragraph 67, the court noted that the threshold for justifying such an order to be made is low and relied upon the decision of Smith v Smith2014 BCSC 61 (CanLII), wherein The Honourable Mr. Justice Affleck stated at paragraph 11:

The only factor of importance for this court on this application is an endeavour to determine the best interests of the children….I am concerned that the strains between them have deprived them of the capacity to view their children’s interests dispassionately.  There may be compelling reasons why….. [and] without an investigation of the reasons….this Court will not be in a position to come to an informed decision on the present applications.

[7]           Given the acrimony between the parties before me, I am satisfied that for the best interest of the Child the best manner in which this court can make an informed finding and determination is for the preparation of a s. 211 report.

If you or your child have  child custody issues arising from divorce or separation and if you feel you need an independent expert to recommend solutions to a parenting time or decision impasse call us at 1-877-602-9900.

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