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(as of March 12, 2011)
Custody and Access Assessments
note, referrals are NOT accepted for this service from persons who are
self represented. Parents should not phone the assessor directly to refer.
referral for service MUST come from a lawyer and both parties must
maintain their legal representation throughout the assessment process. If
a party dismisses the lawyer during the assessment process, service may be
terminated at the sole discretion of the assessor.
custody and access assessments
are provided in those cases where parents are unable to resolve parenting
disputes between themselves. The assessor's role is usually to provide
recommendations setting out a plan for the ongoing care of the child
between the separated parents.
capacity assessments are
provided in those cases more typically where a parent or parents are in
dispute with a child welfare agency about their ability to meet the needs
of and/or care for their children. The assessor's role is to comment on
the ability of the parent or parents to care for their children and/or set
out a plan to support the care of the children or advise when, in the view
of the assessor, alternate care arrangements are required.
are duty bound to provide recommendations to the Court and/or the parties
subject to the dispute, respecting the best interests of the children.
Such recommendations may or may not be consistent with the positions of
the parents. Recommendations may be used by parents to settle matters
outside of court at their discretion.
are expected to cooperate fully with the assessment process and must
provide consents for the disclosure and transmittal of information if
requested by the assessor. By necessity, information disclosed to the
assessor by either party or by third party reports can be shared between
the assessor and the parties, their lawyers and the Court at the
discretion of the assessor or as ordered by the Court.
Description of Process and Costs:
The assessor may be contacted by one or
both lawyers to make a referral for assessment service. Contact may be by
telephone with one lawyer, conference call with both lawyers or by written
submission by letter/email with content agreed upon by both lawyers.
Parents should not phone directly for assessments as this may be perceived
as leading to bias by the other parent or party and could actually
undermine the referral.
If there are terms of reference for the
assessment or directions by the Court, these must be shared with the
assessor at the time of referral. The assessor reserves the right to
accept or reject the referral and is not bound by an Order of the Court
appointing the assessor without the assessor's prior expressed informed
Based upon a discussion of the request
for service, a letter or email will be provided if the referral has been
accepted and detailing pertinent conditions to commence. This letter must
be shared between the lawyers and parties subject to the assessment.
Parties must agree on the choice of the assessor and terms therein. In
lieu of agreement, there must be a Court Order appointing the assessor,
assuming prior consent of the assessor.
A copy of the pleadings brief and Court
Orders are required prior to interviews with the parties.
Disclosure and transmittal of all records
from any agency, physician, CAS, or hospital that has had involvement with
the family is required if requested by the assessor. Both parents
may be required to undertake a criminal reference check and provide the
police report to the assessor. School records are required for
school age children. Written information from interested third
parties may also be requested. Lawyers may be asked to make
provision for release, disclosure, transmittal and costs of reports as set
out above. Third party reports may be required in advance of setting
appointments at the discretion of the assessor. Additional information can
be requested and required by the assessor at any point during the
After receipt of all pertinent
information, appointments will then be set with parents and children.
Generally for custody and access assessments, two meetings are held with
each parent separately, and two interviews with the children as brought by
one parent and then the other parent. Home visits can be required at
the discretion of the assessor. Subsequent and other interviews will be
scheduled as required. In the event a settlement can be reached during the
process of the assessment, this may be encouraged. Parenting Capacity
assessments generally also require at least two interviews with the
parents as well as a meeting with parents and children.
Following collection of the reports and
interviews, a comprehensive assessment report is composed and includes a
family history; review of data collected; discussion based upon the data;
and concludes with recommendations.
Upon completion of this report, a
disclosure meeting is held with the lawyers and parties to disclose the
content and recommendations of the assessment report. Typically, the
assessment report is disclosed only in the context of a disclosure
meeting. Both parties and lawyers must be prepared to attend as part of
this process. The assessor can withhold the assessment report in the
absence of a disclosure meeting. This meeting may also provide an
opportunity to settle matters pertaining to custody and access.
On average, 25 to 30 hours are required
to complete assessments. (Paper review, 3 - 5 hrs.; interviews, 10 -12
hrs.; collateral contact, 2 - 3 hrs.; report preparation, 6 - 8 hrs.;
disclosure, 1-3 hrs.) The cost of assessments is based on an hourly
fee as per the sliding fee schedule below. Travel time will also be billed
at the hourly rate plus $0.60/km.
A retainer based on 30 hours of service,
plus HST, is required prior to commencing the assessment. In the event the
actual cost of the assessment is less than the retainer, then a refund
will be issued. If the cost is more than the retainer, then more funds
will be required prior to the completion of the assessment process. The
assessment report may not be released until the entire cost of the
assessment has been paid in full, at the discretion of the assessor.
The lawyers or parties must determine how
the cost of the assessment will be paid. This is not a matter for the
assessor to determine. Cheque(s) or cash must be provided and no action
will be taken on the file until funds are cleared.
and parties agree that if Gary Direnfeld is
called to Court or any other form of meeting, or if he is asked for any
report or documents, he shall be compensated fully for all time required
to prepare and attend, including mileage @ $0.60/km, whether or not called
upon by subpoena or by other request and that this will be paid in advance
by retainer as per the most current fee schedule. Payment is the
responsibility of the person requesting and/or requiring court attendance
and/or meetings and/or reports/documents unless otherwise agreed by the
parties. Delivery of a report and/or other work may be withheld pending
receipt of any outstanding payment. Any cost incurred to collect payment
on an outstanding account balance shall be added to the account.
Gary Direnfeld shall be entitled to
retain independent legal counsel and to be compensated for the cost
thereof on a substantial indemnity basis in circumstances where in his
sole and arbitrary determination, his integrity, independence, and quality
of service are called into question or in any circumstance where he is
required to attend and answer questions in accordance with any subpoena,
Order or any other request, whether requiring attendance in person or by
any other means such as correspondence, fax, email or telephone.
Lawyers and parties also agree not bring
any actions for damages or any other claims of any kind or character
against Gary Direnfeld for any acts or omissions in the course of carrying
out his duties. Lawyers and parties agree to waive any and all rights to
address any issue against Gary Direnfeld through the Ontario College of
Social Workers and Social Service Workers to which he belongs or through
any Court or any other process not here specifically contemplated in this
or any other jurisdiction.
Assuming cooperation from the parties,
assessments are generally completed within 6 to 10 weeks after clearing of
the retainer cheque and receipt of all required reports.
The parties must execute the Assessment
Policy Agreement form at our first meeting. (See Appendix One in the Assessment
a social worker, I am respectful of people's different income levels. As
such, the fee is set on a fee-for-service basis using a sliding scale that
ranges from $150 - $400 per hour. The actual fee then is determined by
your joint income, or may be determined by your assets or at the
discretion of the assessor. You will be charged from the beginning of
the scheduled appointment time, even if you are late. Appointments
cancelled with less than 48 hours (two business days) will be billed for
one hour. Further, time will be taken at the beginning of the first
meeting for me to present my qualifications, experience and approach to
counselling so that service is provided on an informed basis. This is
deemed part of the time provided and billed for as is any time directed to
your file during the referral process.
retainer based on 30 hours of service at the respective rate, as per the
fee schedule below, is required prior to commencing. Billing will be on
basis of actual time spent on any activity related to the assessment
service, charged at the rate as per the fee schedule below, plus HST. When
calculating the retainer, remember to include the HST. You will be billed
for any activity directed to your case. If less time is taken than covered
by the retainer, a refund will be issued. If more time is required than
covered by the retainer, the assessor may ask for additional funds to be
provided before continuing the assessment process. The final report can be
withheld pending payment of account balance.
Schedule (based on joint annual gross income):
Third Party Payments (EAP and other Benefit Providers):
be advised that I do not accept payment by third party payers (benefit or
EAP providers) whatsoever. People are directly responsible for payment of
services as per the information above at the time of service. A receipt
will be provided with which persons can seek reimbursement from their EAP
or benefit provider. I take no responsibility for your reimbursement.
Reimbursement remains a matter between you and your benefit or EAP
If you do seek reimbursement through your benefit or EAP provider and I am called to verify the charge, I will do so with your implied consent. My disclosure will be limited to advising of my credentials as well as verifying the billing information, service provided and persons served. Please note, assessment is a clinical-legal service and may not be covered. No information regarding the nature or content of information discussed will be provided without signed consent, for which you will be charged as per the time required.
client read and complete the Assessment
Referral Form together.
lawyers make arrangements for payment of retainer.
retainer and materials (pleadings) to the assessor.
thereafter will contact the parties to commence the assessment process.
5. In the event of questions arising, the lawyer(s) should call for clarification.
Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
For information on Direnfeld's book, Raising Kids Without Raising Cane, click here.
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Counselling and assessment services serving Hamilton, Dundas, Ancaster, Stoney Creek, Burlington, Brantford,
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