Post-Separation Visitation Disputes: Differential Interventions








The Office of the Children's Lawyer is interested in improving and evaluating its services in custody and access disputes.

The Office is evaluating these services and their effect on children's adjustment to the separation of their parents. The Office is cooperating with Rachel Birnbaum, doctoral candidate at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Social Work, and the Department of Justice Canada. Therefore, we value your input as a parent so that we may learn more about you and your children.

Collecting this information requires that each parent fill out questionnaires about how you and your children are doing as well as how you view the family relationships and arrangements for your children. With your permission, we will ask your oldest child's teacher to also fill out a questionnaire on how your child is doing in school. The parent questionnaires will take approximately 45 minutes to complete and will be filled out at two points in time (before the evaluation and after the evaluation). A research assistant will be on hand, if necessary, to help you in filling out the questionnaires.


This research project explores two different types of child custody/access services. You have received a letter stating that you will be provided with a "focussed child custody social work investigation and report." Subsequently, you will be randomly assigned to either the focussed child custody report, where the social worker examines some of the sources of conflict that you and your former partner are experiencing, with a view to resolving these issues in the interest of your child/ren, or to another service which is also a child custody investigation and report. In this second type of service, the social worker will assess your child/ren's needs and also recommend a parenting plan based on the interests of your child/ren. Either of these two child custody services, but not both, will be provided.


All information reviewed will be used for research purposes and will be kept confidential. Codes will be used in place of real names for all information, and all information that will identify you or your child will be kept separate and held by the researcher only.

There is a possibility that the questionnaires may be subpoenaed for court purposes. However, the Office of the Children's Lawyer has been granted exemption for similar documents to protect sensitive information about children.


Your participation in this research project is totally voluntary. Your decision to participate or not will not affect the ongoing investigation. You may withdraw from the research project at any point in time and still continue to receive services. You may refuse to answer the questionnaires once you receive them and you will still be provided with our assistance from this office.


This research project will be useful in serving children and families such as your own who are disputing custody and/or access arrangements. Your participation would be greatly appreciated and we thank you for considering doing so.

Lorraine E. Martin, B.A., M.S.W.

Clinical Coordinator of Social Work

Office of the Children's Lawyer

Telephone: 416-314-8066


The study procedures have been explained to me. I understand that the information is used for research purposes. However, there is a possibility that the questionnaires may be subpoenaed for court purposes.

I have been advised that the Office of The Children's Lawyer has been granted exemption for similar types of documents in the past under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act to protect sensitive information about children should it arise.

I have been told of the possible benefits of the study and that this information may be of help to other parents in similar circumstances. I am also aware that this study will help the Office of the Children's Lawyer in learning to improve and evaluate services delivered.

I have been assured of confidentiality and that no information will be released or printed that would disclose the identity of myself or any of my family members without my permission.

  1. The information is used only by the researcher, Rachel Birnbaum, Ph.D. (candidate) who keeps it in a secure place.
  2. Codes are used in place of real names for all information, and all information that identifies me will be kept by the researcher only.
  3. The final report contains no names or other identification.
  4. I will be provided with a summary of the findings as a whole.
  5. I will receive a copy of both the Information for Parents and this Consent Form.

I understand that my participation in this study is completely voluntary, and it has been explained to me that I can withdraw from the study at any time and continue to receive service. My signature below signifies my willingness to participate in the study and that I be contacted six to eight months later to see how the matter was eventually resolved and how satisfied I feel about the services provided and the arrangements made for my child/ren.

(Lorraine Martin can be contacted for questions at 416-314-8066; or Rachel Birnbaum at 416-314-8072)

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