Family Mediation Canada Consultation on Custody, Access and Child Support

Appendix A
Survey on Custody, Access and Child Support Issues

The Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family is conducting this project to obtain feedback from delegates to the Family Mediation Canada—National Capital Region Conference 2000 concerning their experiences with custody, access and child support issues, and to solicit expert opinion concerning possible reforms in these areas. The project is funded by the Department of Justice Canada.

We would appreciate your assistance in completing this survey. Feel free to add additional pages for comments if desired. Please be assured that your anonymity will be maintained and that responses will not be attributed to individuals.

Please drop off the completed survey at the conference registration desk or at the Department of Justice booth any time during the conference.

Thank you for your co-operation in completing this survey.

If you attended the Federation of Law Societies of Canada’s National Family Law Program in St. John’s, Newfoundland in July and completed this survey there, please do not complete it again.

CONSULTATION ON CUSTODY, ACCESS, AND CHILD SUPPORT

Friday, October 20, 2000, 8:45 a.m.—10:15 a.m.
Presented by: Lise Lafrenière-Henrie and Marilyn Bongard

In conjunction with this survey on custody and access and child support issues, there will be a consultation on custody, access, and child support. The consultation is intended to gain more in-depth information from a smaller group of conference participants.

Many Canadians are concerned about the approach and adequacy of the current family law system. The Government of Canada is working with the provinces and territories to improve the framework within which child custody and access determination are made, as well as other family law issues. Justice Canada has undertaken to consult on child custody and access issues, as well as on some child support issues. This workshop will allow you to comment on what governments should do to help families going through separation or divorce. This is your opportunity to contribute to the development of policy addressing these two interesting and important topics.

SURVEY ON CUSTODY, ACCESS AND CHILD SUPPORT ISSUES

1.0 Best Interests of the Child

Currently, subsection 16(8) of the Divorce Act provides that in making a custody order, the court shall take into consideration only the best interests of the child of the marriage as determined by reference to the condition, means, needs, and other circumstances of the child.

2.0 Voice of the Child

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child asserts the right of the child to participate in decisions that affect his or her life.

3.0 Family Violence

The Government of Canada strongly believes that it is important to send a message that all aspects of the family law system must take into account incidents of family violence involving the child or a member of the child’s family.

4.0 Managing High Conflict Situations

Experts agree that exposure to unresolved, high-conflict situations increases risk factors in children.

5.0 Promoting Non-adversarial Dispute Mechanisms

6.0 Access and Compliance

7.0 Clarifying Terminology and Parental Responsibilities

Listed below are four options that the Department of Justice Canada is considering for legislative changes to terminology in the Divorce Act.

8.0 Child Support Issues

Child Support Paid Directly to Children

The Federal Child Support Guidelines recognize that judges may treat older children who are still dependent on their parents differently from minor children when it comes to determining child support amounts. Older children may have part-time jobs or be living away from home while going to school.

Parents and other people have questioned whether it is best for the paying parent to continue to pay the child support for older children to the receiving parent (who provides a home for them) or to pay it directly to the children.

9.0 Professional Information