In this case, the children were 8 and 6. The father wanted their wishes to be known and asked the judge to order a Voice of the Child Report (VOCR) by a mental health professional (MHP) in order to obtain the children’s views on their residential arrangements. He even offered to pay the entire cost.
The mother objected. Her main concern was that the children were being influenced by the father.
The judge noted that the use of a VOCR has “proven to be an effective and efficient process for ensuring the right of the child to participate in proceedings that affect them and for fulfilling the court’s mandate to consider their views and preferences”.
The judge also noted that the main drawback is that it is ‘acontextual’ in that the MHP preparing the VOCR does not meet with the parents or gather information through other sources.
In this case, the judge decided that the VOCR is the most direct way for the court to receive evidence of the children’s wishes from a neutral source and that the mother’s concern regarding influence should not result in a refusal to hear from the children, as that consideration goes to the weight to be ascribed to those views.
The judge ordered that the MHP interview both children twice, be brought to her once by the mother and once by the father, and prepare a VOCR to ascertain their views and preferences regarding their residential arrangement during the school year.
Case Link: https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2023/2023onsc297/2023onsc297.html
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