Hear the Child Reports
What is a Hear the Child Report?
The Hear the Child Report is a way of allowing children to share their views and be heard when a decision is being made about them, usually in a family court matter.
A Hear the Child Report is very different from a "custody and access report" that is evaluative in nature and includes recommendations from a psychologist or family justice counsellor as to how an issue should be decided in the child's best interest. A Hear the Child Report is typically prepared by a specially trained lawyer or other professional and includes only a narrative of the questions that are asked of the child and the child's response.
Why is a Hear the Child Report useful?
A Hear the Child Report not only allows a child to be heard, it also may help the parents to reach an agreement on the issue in dispute before the court is left to decide. Once the parents see what the child has to say, they may think about it in a different light.
A Hear the Child Report is useful for the Court so the judge knows what the child thinks about an issue and his or her preference on how the issue should be resolved. The court retains the discretion to make the decision regardless of the child's views and the child is made aware of this during the interview with the report writer.
How is a Hear the Child Report prepared?
Typically, a person asked to interview a child and prepare a Hear the Child Report will require the written consent of both of the parties or a court order. Both parents will be asked to provide information about the child, such as their school, friends and pets, and to provide a brief description of the issue(s) to be addressed with the child.
The interviewer will meet with the child on two occasions. If there is more than one child, the children will be interviewed separately. A Hear the Child Report will be prepared shortly after the interview(s) and provided to each party and/or the Court once payment has been received from the parties. Typically, the parties will equally share the cost of the report.