BC Parenting Time Child’s Wishes lawyers deal with cases where the child’s wishes on how they want their time to be shared with their parents play an important role. Powerful legal and social science research indicates taking the child’s wishes into account leads to better outcomes in child custody and parenting time disagreements.
BC Parenting Time Child’s Wishes 1-877-602-9900
In today’s blog Michael law explore 3 key areas of a growing trend to recognizing better outcomes for children in custody and parenting time disagreements come when the child is involved:
- Disputes involving child parenting time
- Does the court agree that my child’s wishes count for BC Parenting time?
- Do my child’s wishes count for BC Parenting time?
BC Parenting Time Child’s Wishes-Disputes Involving Parenting Time
Our BC Parenting Time Child’s Wishes lawyers know that disputes involving child parenting time are often a difficult issue for not only separating parents, but also the children involved. Children may not always want to cooperate with an access schedule and may not even want to spend time with one of the parents. Children may also feel like their wishes are not being heard when having to following a parenting time schedule.
While courts may take into consideration the wishes of the child in making a parenting time order, the ages and circumstances of the child dictate how much weight is given to those wishes. In today’s blog, MacLean Family Law associate, Michael Lam summarizes a recent case involving the wishes of a 16 year old on child parenting time.
BC Parenting Time Child’s Wishes- Does the court agree that my child’s wishes count for BC Parenting time?
So, how old does a child have to be for a court to take their wishes into account when making a parenting time order? Generally speaking, as a child gets older, the more their wishes are taken into consideration with determining parenting time and access. Children as young as 8-9 can have an important voice in child custody disputes and ove rthe age of 12 more weight is given and by 15 years of age the court will likely make an order that reasonably complies with the child’s wishes. What can be done when a child’s wishes might actually not be in their best interests?
In the recent BC case, K.L.S. v. K.M.S., 2017 BCSC 1315, a mother wanted to rebuild her relationship with her 16 year old daughter, who had refused to see her mother for 5 years, by enrolling her in a therapy program and having the therapist make recommendations about parenting time. The parents agreed to allow the daughter to meet with the judge briefly before the hearing to be interviewed. In this case, the court decided not to force a relationship with the mother on the daughter as the wishes of an intelligent and thoughtful 16 year old child must be given significant consideration when deciding to refuse contact with one of her parents.
 In my opinion an intelligent and thoughtful 16-year-old, must by that age be given a significant measure of autonomy when deciding to refuse contact with one of her parents.
 The only consideration I must have in regard to J.S. is her best interests. I am persuaded that an order of this Court requiring J.S. to undergo counselling with the aim of establishing a relationship with her mother, no matter how skilfully that counselling is handled, and no matter how delicately the re-establishment of a relationship is approached, would be seen by J.S. as coercion. It would not enhance the prospect of developing a useful relationship with her mother. In my view the more promising approach to achieving a satisfactory relationship between J.S. and her mother is to allow the passage of time, if possible, to overcome the wounds of the past, as perceived by J.S. This perception by J.S., whether or not it is acknowledged by others, must be respected. The striving of the respondent, through this Court, to create a relationship with J.S. is counterproductive.
 I agree with Dr. Eirikson that it is unfortunate that J.S. has no relationship with her mother but this Court cannot solve that problem. The respondent must look to means other than a court order to begin a process of reconciliation. Dr. Eirikson is correct when he states that “[J.S.’s] concerns need to be heard and a conciliatory approach would be most beneficial”. To seek to compel J.S. to attend a program of counselling which had been initiated by the respondent through this Court, over the objections of J.S., in my opinion would not only be futile, it would diminish the prospect of ever achieving a fruitful relationship.
BC Parenting Time Child’s Wishes-Do my child’s wishes count for BC Parenting time?
The answer is a definite yes. Depending on their age the child clearly has a voice but not the sole choice on how parenting plans will be structured to best meet their needs.