Informing the Children of a Custody Outcome
In the recent decision of the O.(C.) v. O.(D.), 2010, Justice Harper was faced with making a custody decision in a potential child alienation family law matter.
The children in the matter were older, 15, 12 and 10, and able to understand what was going on in the case. They were all interviewed by the Office of the Children’s Lawyer to give their personal views and opinions on where they wanted to live.
In the end, Justice Harper made a decision which went against at least one of the children’s wishes. He then decided that he would be the one to tell the children his final decision. He asked that the children be brought to the court and he told them in the presence of the court reporter and his court services officer.
Justice Harper told the children that he was the one who had the sole responsibility to make the custody decision. He wanted the children to know that they did not have the power to make the final important decision. He also wanted to relieve the children of any sense of guilt they may have had about their interviews and if anything they said had an impact on the result.
This is a commendable approach to conclude a family law matter which involved the children expressing their personal views and opinions on the outcome.