Using Parenting Experts After Separation
Author: Calgary Family Lawyer Mat Wirove
Divorce and separation can be a stressful, and emotional time for everyone involved; particularly when there are children and the family is changing structurally, functionally and emotionally. From living arrangements, parenting time, and new partners, to school pick-ups, health care appointments and sporting activities, many aspects of life for parents and children will change after separation or divorce. Sometimes that requires help from trained professionals parenting experts.
Parenting experts are most commonly psychologists, clinical social workers and lawyers. These professionals are members of a regulated profession and may receive training to become a parenting expert. A parenting expert may be called as an expert witness in family court for a divorce trial.
Parenting experts can be accessed by the parties voluntarily at any time after separation and during the divorce process.Typically, it is better to begin seeing a parenting expert early on after separation, before the parents are entrenched in divorce litigation, while they are still able to work together. However, if family law litigation starts and the parties cannot agree on a parenting expert, the family court can also order an intervention under family law Practice Note 7.
Family law Practice Note 7 allows the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench to order an intervention by a parenting expert in a family law matter involving children. There are two primary types of family law interventions conducted by a parenting expert under Practice Note 7: Evaluative Interventions and Therapeutic Interventions.
Evaluative Intervention provides information to the divorce court to assist the judge in decision-making and they include:
- Triage assessments
- Voice of the child reports
- Parent psychological evaluations
- Child and adolescent psychological evaluations
- Focused assessments to address a specific question in dispute in the family law case
Therapeutic Interventions attempt to work towards resolution after divorce and separation, manage conflict, and make changes in the existing family dynamic. They include:
- Educational sessions
- Therapeutic intervention or counselling with one parent, both parents, the children or with parents and children
- Parent-child reunification, which may be necessary after child alienation
- Parenting Coordination
As mentioned above these Interventions can be undertaken either voluntarily or ordered by the family law court, except for parenting coordination which must be entered into by consent. These interventions often involve the parenting expert writing reports and communicating with the family lawyers or the judge. Sometimes the report may be referred to in the divorce trial.
If you have any questions about parenting experts, family law or divorce, the Lawyers at Crossroads Law are here to help.