The Silent Child

(2010) Canadian Family Law Quarterly, Vol. 29, No. 1, pp. 1-25.

There are two possible forms of evidence in a custody or access (visitation) case which is determined through adjudication. First, the judge may hear from the adult parties and the witnesses whom they choose to call. Second, the judge may hear “children’s evidence,” which comes either directly from the child, or from a neutral professional with child-related expertise. To assess the prevalence of children’s evidence in Canadian custody and access litigation, the author conducted a quantitative survey of 181 reported decisions from 2009. The central finding was that only 45% mentioned any form of children’s evidence. Among the various varieties of children’s evidence, assessments (also known as child custody evaluations) were much more common than legal representation of children or direct evidence from children. The paper concludes by contrasting the primacy of the child in custody and access doctrine with the reality that the children involved appear to be effectively silent in the majority of the adjudicated cases.

Download from SSRN

The Eye of the Beholder: Professional Opinions about the Best Interests of a Child

(2011) Family Court Review, Vol. 49, No. 4, pp. 760-775 (Peer-reviewed).

Full text online, SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1327485

This paper is is based on my LL.M thesis, which I successfully defended on June 10, 2009.  The Below, please find short and long versions of the thesis, as well as a 15 minute video presentation.

The Eye of the Beholder from Noel Semple on Vimeo.

Thesis (30k words)

Short Version (8500 words)

For an even shorter description, please click here: Continue reading

In Sickness and in Health? Spousal Support and Unmarried Cohabitants.

(2008) Canadian Journal of Family Law, Vol. 24, No. 2, pp. 317-375.

When an intimate relationship breaks down and one of the people involved seeks money from the other, should it make any difference to the law whether or not they were formally married? This article argues that it should make a difference, at least when spousal support is being sought and the parties were never parents together.

(Winner of the 2008 Falconer Memorial Student Essay Competition in Family Law.)

Found here: In Sickness and In Health?