By: Steven Benmor, B.Sc., LL.B., Family Lawyer
Jurisdiction: Ontario (Canada)
“Can a child’s personal diary be used in a Family Court case ?”
In the May 31, 2004 case of Children’s Aid Society of Haldimand-Norfolk v. C.C, Justice Thibideau found this to be a novel point of law and was forced to consider the competing arguments.
The Children’s Aid Society (CAS) wanted to rely on the information in the diary detailing the child’s fears as part of an ongoing investigation of child abuse and as part of an effort to protect the child from abuse.
The court found that, on the one hand, CAS’ mandate is protect children whom are in need of protection and, therefore, CAS needs to use the diary to prove that its intervention in the family’s life is justified. On the other hand, a 12 year old child has a right to privacy and should not have to disclose the private and confidential notes in her diary, especially if this disclosure would cause serious injury to her relationship with her parents.
CAS argued that that, if all documents of a private nature that are made by children were not usable, then children would be at a much greater risk of abuse.
In the end, since the child had disclosed to the investigating CAS worker what was written in the diary, the court decided that the diary would not be disclosed, but that the verbal evidence of what the child disclosed to the CAS worker could be used.