Views of the child reports

John-Paul Boyd has been preparing views of the child reports for use in family law disputes being resolved through litigation and mediation since 2007, and was instrumental in establishing the BC Hear the Child Society. These reports are commonly used to explore children’s thoughts about their parents’ separation, how they feel about the conflict between their parents and their opinion of their parenting arrangements. Sometimes these reports are used to address specific questions, about the extracurricular activities the child prefers, about a minor or temporary change to the child’s parenting schedule or about a letter, email or text the child has written. Views of the child reports give parents, mediators, arbitrators and judges valuable information about children’s wishes and preferences.

The views of the child reports available from John-Paul Boyd Arbitration Chambers are non-evaluative, meaning that they merely report what the child has said and agreed John-Paul may communicate. They do not editorialize or offer an opinion about the child’s views, or about the extent to which the views expressed by the child match the child’s actual wishes and preferences. They can be prepared inexpensively and quickly, often within a day or two depending on timing and John-Paul’s availability.

Where an evaluative report is required, meaning a report in which the writer assesses and provides an opinion on the child’s views, a mental health professional such as a psychologist or social worker must be hired.

Views of the child reports prepared by John-Paul Boyd have been cited by the Provincial Court, Supreme Court and Court of Appeal of British Columbia.

Children’s affidavits

The use of children’s affidavits in legal disputes is something that should be avoided whenever possible. However, circumstances can arise when these affidavits are necessary. Children’s affidavits should not be drafted by the lawyers for any of the parties involved in a family law dispute, or by lawyers working with those lawyers. In order to avoid any impression of influence, children’s affidavits should be prepared by an independent, neutral lawyer with no affiliation to either party.

The lawyer preparing the affidavit must work with the child to ensure that: the affidavit accurately reflects the child’s experiences and recollections; the child appreciates the present and future implications of signing an affidavit to be used in a legal dispute; and, the child understands the difference between telling the truth and telling a half-truth or an outright lie.

John-Paul Boyd is skilled at communicating with children and young people, establishing rapport and helping them tell their stories in a way with which they are comfortable.

Children’s independent legal advice

Children aged 12 and older may need legal advice when they are being asked to consent to something, like an adoption, a change of name or the appointment of a guardian. The consent of children younger than 12 generally isn’t required.

Although the need to obtain the child’s consent sounds like it’s just a matter of asking the child to say yes or no to something, a number of court decisions have pointed out that what the child must provide is his or her informed consent. “Informed consent” means that the child needs to get legal advice from an independent lawyer about the meaning and effect of the decision he or she is being asked to make. Informed consent helps to ensure that: the child understands the consequences of giving or withholding agreement; and, the child is making up his or her own mind on the matter.

John-Paul Boyd is able to express complicated legal ideas in ways that children and young people easily understand. He will prepare an affidavit for use in court and administrative proceedings stating the information communicated to the child, explaining the child’s apparent understanding of that information and summarizing the child’s decision.