What is Intake?

Intake is part of the court process and is mandatory. The purpose of intake is to:

~ identify the issues involved
~ make sure the required information is exchanged between parties
~ consider appropriate options to resolving the issues
~ recommend other steps, including a hearing before a judge

Intake is not confidential but details of discussions during the intake process will not be included in the court record. Intake begins when you start an application in the Family Court. You may bring a family member or friend with you to the meeting. Generally, the other party does not attend at this time. You will meet with a court officer, usually called an intake officer, who will help you identify the issues and make sure that you have provided all information and documentation required by the Family Court.

What does the intake officer do?

The intake officer helps you sort out what to do about your situation and what the next steps might be. The intake officer may:

~ suggest that you seek legal advice and counselling services
~ suggest that you consider mediation
~ refer the parties to the Parent Information Program
~ schedule a court date before a judge
~ recommend to a judge that a pre-trial settlement conference be scheduled
~ direct that the parties provide proper financial and other information to each other

The intake officer does not:

~ take sides in a case
~ force the parties to reach a settlement outside of court
~ make final decisions about a case

Will I still need a lawyer?

The intake officer cannot give legal advice. The intake process does not replace negotiation between lawyers. The court officer will also recommend you consult with a lawyer if you reach an agreement before going to court.

What is the Parent Information Program (PIP)?

The Parent Information Program is a voluntary program if children are the subject of a court case. You will be scheduled to attend two two-hour sessions or one three-hour session at the court. PIP offers you information about:

~ the legal process
~ the best ways to support your children during this time
~ the best ways to keep your children from getting caught in the middle

The goals of PIP are:

~ to increase your awareness of the impact of parental conflict on children
~ to improve communications between you and the other party about your children's needs
~ to offer new ways to avoid placing children in the middle of issues between you and the other party

How can I attend a session?

A court officer will tell you when and where you are scheduled to attend. Attempts may be made to accommodate work and family commitments. You will not have to attend the same session as your ex-partner.

What is a Parenting Assessment?

A Family Court judge may order a parenting assessment. The main purpose of an assessment is to help the judge decide how the needs of the child may best be met. The judge can specify what kind of assessment is to be done, including:

~ a parental capacity assessment of one or both parents
~ a psychological/psychiatric assessment of one or both parents
~ a psychological/psychiatric assessment of a child
~ the child's wishes and reasons for those wishes
~ the parenting arrangements that best meet the child's needs

If a judge orders an assessment, it is mandatory. If one party is not cooperating, the assessor will report this to the judge. If you are involved in a custody or access dispute and believe an assessment of your child would help the court understand your family circumstances, you may speak to a court officer or your lawyer about seeking an assessment. The judge will decide if the court needs an assessment to make a determination in your case. If the judge doesn't order an assessment, the parties can still agree to have an assessment done. If the situation is resolved before the assessment is complete, advise the assessor and the court as soon as possible.

Who does the assessment?

A parenting assessment is done by a professional, usually a social worker or psychologist, with expertise in the area of children, custody, and parenting time. The assessor meets with both parents, and may also meet with the child, the grandparents, childcare providers, and teachers, if appropriate.

What is my child's role in an assessment?

Your child may need to be interviewed by the assessor. It will depend on your child's age and the issues the judge wants addressed. As the assessor needs to meet with your child in a confidential setting, you cannot attend the interview. The assessor will discuss this with you beforehand.

What if I disagree with what the assessor says or recommends?

You or your lawyer, if you have one, will have the chance to address this during court proceedings.

Is there a fee for the assessment?

Yes. An assessment may cost $2,000 to $5,000 to prepare, but you may not have to pay the whole cost. The Courts use a fee schedule, set and approved by provincial legislation. The amount you pay is based on your gross income. For information on court fees, please refer to the following web page: COURT COSTS & FEES >>