• child custody evaluations;
  • family court;
  • custody and visitation;
  • custody and access;
  • joint custody;
  • social work;
  • judicial decision-making;
  • Office of the Children's Lawyer

Child custody evaluations (CCEs) are a central feature of parenting litigation in many North American jurisdictions. However, there has been little recent research comparing CCE decisions about children's interests with decisions made by judges. This article presents empirical research about the extent to which Ontario judges accept custody and access recommendations from CCEs employed by Ontario's Office of the Children's Lawyer. The central finding was that the judges fully agreed with the CCEs only about half of the time. Possible explanations for this finding are explored, the most salient of which is the effect of delay in Ontario family litigation. In conclusion, the article suggests that a more efficient synthesis of the judicial and CCE decision-making processes might be more consonant with the best interests of children involved in these disputes.