Voice of the Child reports (or VOC if you’re feeling fancy), are increasingly requested by courts to learn about the child’s uniques views and wishes about one or two particular subjects. They have been welcomed in Ontario as they are a simple and cost effective way for children’s voices to be heard in the courts, without the length and cost of a regular custody access assessment.
In general, VOC reports take ten hours or less to complete and can be completed in under thirty days. That’s a whole lot less waiting than the three to six months for a full custody access report.
A VOC report is ideal for families and courts who have worked through many other areas but still have a few outstanding issues to cover. The issues are generally restricted to obtaining the children’s views and wishes about one to two specific issues and prevent the child from having to testify at court, a process that is extremely stressful for children and can cause long term negative impacts.
WHAT IS INVOLVED?
In general, the clinician will meet with the child(ren) twice. Each caregiver will bring the child to the our offices (on separate interview dates) where the child will be interviewed by a trained clinician. After spending some time getting to know the clinician and the office space, children will be asked a variety of questions about the presenting issues. Clinicians are highly trained to avoid asking questions where children will feel they need to choose sides between parents. They will not be asked who they want to live with, nor will they be asked any leading questions.
Parents, although they bring their child(ren) to the appointment are not interviewed to protect the interview process and to ensure that it is only the children’s voices and wishes that are reflected in the report. Clinicians will book interviews directly with parents, but will refrain from engaging in discussion about the court case or the parents’ opinions or views. The entire report must remain focused on the child.
WHAT IS THE COST FOR A VOICE OF THE CHILD REPORT?
Voice of the Child reports are billed at a flat rate of $1500 plus HST. Parents can be billed separately so that each can pay their own share. During the initial phone consult, we will ask about payment. All payment must be provided in full prior to interviews being scheduled. If you have more than three children, you will be billed $500 plus HST, per child for the assessment and report. Payment can be made by credit card, email transfer, or certified check.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE?
Once we’ve agreed that we are a good fit to work together, interviews with the children will be arranged. The entire process should be completed with the report sworn and filed with the court and served on all parties within 30 days of the interviews beginning.
HOW DO I MAKE A REFERRAL?
Referrals are made by contacting us directly at 519-637-7117. Referrals can be made directly by parents, the court, or counsel. All referrals will be carefully screened for any conflict of interest within 10 days of referral. You will be notified if your file has been accepted in writing. If we have to decline the referral, you will also be notified in writing and be provided with a list of possible alternatives.