What is the Brief Consultation Service?
The Brief Consultation Service is staffed by Family Relations Counsellors from Family Conciliation Services. They are highly skilled social service professionals with numerous years of training, and mediation and assessment experience. Brief, timely consultation services for parents and children will be provided regarding issues before the Court. The consulation includes:
- Hearing the wishes of children ages 11-17 years regarding custody/access arrangements
- The needs of children based on their age and stage of development;
- Information regarding children's developmental issues as related to custody/access planning;
- Time-sharing between parents and children of any age;
- Post-separation parenting options including different methods of communicating; and
- What other services might benefit the family (i.e. counselling, further assessment).
The Brief Consultation Service is intended to:
- Offer parents consultation on their custody/access issues when a full assessment may not be required;
- Offer older children ages 11 to 17 an opportunity to share wishes or concerns;
- Facilitate an earlier resolution of custody/access issues; and
- Avoid the need for longer traditional custody/access assessments
What happens upon referral?
- A counsellor will contact the family within one working day after receiving the referral to arrange meetings with various family members.
- The initial meeting may take place at the Family Conciliation Services office or at the Law Courts Building.
What happens during the process?
- The counsellor will meet to assess the parents' and/or child/children's concerns within 1 to 10 working days of receiving the referral.
- Consultations will be specific to the issue referred and/or any concerns the counsellor identifies;
- Assessments are intended to be brief and focused and will not follow the procedures outlined for traditional custody/access assessments.
- The counsellor will determine the order, duration and number of meetings required;
- The counsellor may speak with other professionals who have had involvement;
- Court affidavits will be reviewed only if they are identified by the court or legal counsel to contain specific information or professional reports about the family that are relevant to the child/children's well-being;
- Existing protection, prevention or restraining orders or potential for verbal/physical aggression or violence should be identified to the counsellor (any reports or documents about abuse or neglect will be reviewed before a child is interviewed).
- The counsellor will prepare a written report which will be available before the date of the next Case Conference that you and your lawyer will have with a judge (no sooner than 20 to 25 working days after the referral). Case management is a court process that allows a judge to monitor and manage the process of a family court case. Case conferencing refers to a meeting with both parents, their lawyers and the judge to try and solve the problems and issues in the case. Outside of Winnipeg, these meetings are called pre-trial conferences;
- The report will not include recommendations about final custody but may offer suggestions for parenting plans or time-sharing.