Recent case: Judge interviews children

Judicial interviews of children are still a rarity in Ontario, so it is always interesting to read a case in which a judge decides to talk to the kids.

In the case of A (G) v B (K), 2014 CarswellOnt 8838 (Ont. S.C.J.), the mother wished to relocate with the children from Toronto to Washington D.C. to marry her long-term partner. Justice Perkins decided to interview the children, who were 13 and 15 years old, and then wrote in his judgement permitting the mother to relocate with them:

After obtaining the assent of the parties, the Children’s Lawyer, and the children, I met with the children myself in order to do a final check on their wishes and preferences. I am very glad I did. I was able to see for myself what so many of the witnesses talked about – these children are delightful, as well as bright, appropriately mature for their ages, closely bonded to both parents and to each other, appreciative of the strengths and aware of the weaknesses of their parents, realistic in their appreciation of the issues affecting them, and willing to talk about their wishes and preferences.

The meeting took place with only their lawyer and court staff present. It was recorded, but I told the children the recording would not be released and their views would be kept confidential, unless they authorized me to communicate their views to their parents, which they did. I made it very clear that they were not to be the decision makers, that their wishes and preferences would be taken into account along with a lot of other information from the parents and others about what arrangements would be in their best interests, that I had to make the decision where they would live because their parents could not agree, and that my decision would be based on some legal considerations and on my appreciation of what was in their best interests.

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