Under section 224 of the Family Law Act, the courts have power to require parties attend counselling. This can be in the form of family dispute resolution or individual counselling. The courts can even order a child attend counselling without their guardians’ consent. This broad power of the court must be exercised in a manner that best respects the interests of the child. Counselling for children can be extremely beneficial, especially in situations of high family conflict or violence. Recognizing this, the Family Law Act also authorizes the courts to allocate the cost of counselling or other related services between the litigation parties, or to require only one party pay.
Particularly for young children who are more vulnerable to potential alienation from a parent, the court may order counselling. In C.H.T. v. P.V.L., 2015 BCSC 419, two children, aged 10 and 13, were estranged from their father. The court held that the objective should be that the children repair and reintegrate their relationship with their father, and that both parents must also follow the counsellor’s recommendations.
The age of the children and their expressed wishes will be taken into account when the court makes a decision regarding ordering counselling. In M.Y.T.C. v. L.H.N., 2018 BCSC 1174, the parties’ 15-year-old son was estranged from his mother. The son had clearly expressed that he did not want to go to counselling, and would meet any efforts to force him to go with resistance. The court held that ordering him into counselling would only further damage the relationship with his mother.
We understand how challenging it can be to navigate emotionally charged family matters. Our lawyers strive to resolve issues with minimal toll to clients.
If you have any questions, please call Heath Law LLP to book a consultation.