Children's Voices in Family Law: Challenges for Lawyers
Decisions about children in family law proceedings are likely to be better if the children's views are factored into the final decision. It is submitted that not only do children have a right to voice their views and preferences, they also wish to be involved in the decision-making process. Children do not necessarily want to make autonomous decisions, but they wish to participate in the decision-making process. They want their views listened to and respected. They want a voice. The upholding and protection of a person's rights is what lawyers are trained by education and legal training to do but the significant challenge for lawyers representing children in the family courts is how to involve the child, to give them a sense of empowerment, advocate on their behalf and ensure that their views and preferences are heard, while understanding how competing pressures and influences may act upon their stated preferences. The role of lawyers representing children in custody and access proceedings has been the subject of intense debate, not only in Canada, but around the world. This webinar will discuss the different roles lawyers play, the challenges for lawyers and how to ensure that the child's voice is heard and respected.
Katherine Kavassalis, LLB, has practiced family law and child protection since her call to the bar in 1984. In 2004, she joined the in-house staff at the Office of the Children's Lawyer as counsel. She is currently the Legal Director in the Personal Rights Department at the Office of the Children’s Lawyer. In this role she oversees the development and delivery of training for over 400 fee-for-service lawyers on the Office’s Child Representation Panel. As an advocate herself, she has appeared in every level of court in the province. She has guest lectured at the Faculties of Law at the University of Western Ontario, the University of Windsor and the University of Toronto, has taught Family Law for Mediators at T.A.P.E., the Bar Admission preparatory course for Family Law at the University of Toronto and taught Law and Ethics, in 2006-07 at the Department of Social Work, University of Western Ontario. Katherine is a trainer for the Advocates Society, and moot supervisor at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law. She has co-authored two books on child custody assessments.
Certificate of attendance will not be issued for recorded webinars