Cliff’s Notes – Voice of the Child Report for Very Young Children
It is generally thought that a Voice of the Child Report should only be ordered for older children. In ascertaining the views and wishes of a child, the older the child is, the more weight is given to this evidence.
In Canepa v. Canepa, 2018 ONSC 5154, Justice F. Kiteley ordered a Voice of the Child Report for two children, one aged 8 years, and the other five months shy of 7 years. Kiteley, J. found that she had jurisdiction to do so under the Family Law Rules (Rule 20.1 (3)) which gives the Court authority to appoint an expert to enquire into and report on a question of fact relevant to an issue in the case. The Court points out that the Office of the Children’s Lawyer provides Voice of the Child Reports in appropriate cases for children over 7 years of age. The expert proposed worked for the OCL and had experience preparing such reports.
The circumstances of this case persuaded Kitely, J. to make the order even though one child was under 7 years old. The parties had been at odds over access for a long time. Both parents were loving and able; there was no suggestion that either would try to influence the children.
This case now stands as an authority for the ordering of a Voice of the Child Report even though a child in a case is under the age of seven. Canepa does not assign the weight to be given to the Report; however, it may be useful as precedent in an appropriate case.