A bit about a Practice Note 7

Looking over a therapist's shoulder as a couple sits on her couch

A Practice Note 7 is sometimes incorrectly understood as a specific process when in fact it refers to an explanation of law and practice on key legal issues. A Family Law Practice Note 7 provides guidance for specific Evaluative and Therapeutic Interventions for families experiencing conflict who need assistance from the Court concerning their children.

Psychologists and clinical social workers providing these Evaluative and Therapeutic Interventions possess a combination of education, training, and experience that allows them to be appointed as Parenting Experts by the Court. The Parenting Expert is required to provide a report to the Court and to offer assistance in identifying the challenges specific to a family.

Evaluative Interventions

Voice of the Child, also referred to as Views of the Child, Parent Psychological Assessment, Focused Assessment (e.g. Risk), Triage, and Child or Adolescent Assessment are intended to provide information to the Court to facilitate decision-making. These Interventions are typically ordered by the Court.

Therapeutic Interventions

Parent-Child Reunification for parent-child contact problems, therapy for a child or children, individual therapy for one or both parents, post-separation/divorce counselling for both parents, and family therapy is intended to help parents manage conflict and make changes in themselves, parent-child relationships, the co-parenting relationship, and family system. These Interventions are typically court-ordered but may be accessed on a voluntary basis by parents or their lawyers without involving the Court and ideally occur early in the court process.

Parenting Experts appointed by the Court conducting these Interventions are not able to provide copies of any reports directly to parents. Although they are not able to offer any opinions or make any recommendations regarding parenting time, parenting responsibilities, decision-making, or relocation, the Parenting Expert may describe what is happening with the child(ren) within the family dynamic.

As of May 1, 2019, new regulations regarding Practice Note 7 Interventions came into effect with additional guidance provided for lawyers and Parenting Experts. Please feel free to contact me or my office if you have questions regarding the process I follow when conducting these Interventions. To access the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta Family Law Practice Note 7 document (May 1, 2019) please click here.

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