What is a PN7 and what do people mean when they use that term anyway? It can sometimes get a little confusing so I’ve broken it down to add a little clarity.
A PN7 is a Court of Queen’s Bench Family Law Practice Note 7. A Practice Note describes a legal process that is accessible to parties by way of court order. There are 10 types of Family Law Practice Notes in Alberta but the two that are most often mentioned by non-lawyers are Practice Note 7 (PN7) and Practice Note 8 (PN8). As of May 1, 2019 updates to PN7 and PN8 Interventions came into effect.
While a PN8 formally defines a single evaluative process – a Child Custody Evaluation (sometimes called a “bilateral assessment”) – a Practice Note 7 refers to a number of different processes divided into 2 categories: Evaluative Interventions and Therapeutic Interventions.
Evaluative PN7 Interventions are undertaken to identify factors that are interfering with the adults’ or children’s inability to adjust to the separation/divorce and recommendations are provided in written reports to the Court. The 2 most commonly ordered PN7 Interventions are the Voice or View of the Child (VoC) and Parent Psychological Evaluation. VoC Evaluations are typically used when parents have conflicting perspectives on what their children are telling them or to address allegations of alienation. Parent Psychological Evaluations are typically ordered to determine whether or not a parent has the necessary skills to adequately parent or to identify risk factors that could jeopardise a child’s safety if left in the care of that parent. Other evaluative PN7 interventions include: Triage, Child/Adolescent Assessment, and Focused Assessment.
Therapeutic PN7 Interventions are intended to assist parents and children in addressing difficulties in the parents’ or parent-child relationships and to help them adjust to other changes in their lives that are the result of the separation/divorce. These processes include court-ordered therapy for one parent; both parents together (separation or divorce counselling); therapy for a child; therapy for parents and children together (family therapy); or parent-child reunification therapy to address resist-refuse parent-child contact problems. Treatment summaries are often provided to the Court at various points in the treatment process.
Parenting Experts providing these types of Interventions and Evaluations must have the necessary and specialised training, qualifications and experience to be appointed by the Court to conduct the type of intervention that is specified in the order. While PN7 Reports often include recommendations to assist the parties, they do not provide opinions or recommendations as to what the parenting schedule ought to be. A PN8, Child Custody Evaluation is the only type of intervention that allows a Parenting Expert to offer opinions and make recommendations about parenting time and decision-making.
As a Parenting Expert, I have completed numerous PN7 and PN8 Interventions. Please do not hesitate to contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or my office (email@example.com) if you would like more information. The Alberta Courts website has additional details regarding these Interventions.