Child Protection Lawyers in Ottawa
In Ontario, child protection services are provided by children’s aid societies. There are forty-nine of these societies across Ontario, including eleven Indigenous societies. There is one society in Ottawa, known as The Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa. These societies are responsible for investigating reports or evidence of abuse, including cases involving children that are “at risk” of experiencing abuse, physically, sexually, emotionally or through neglect or abandonment.
A children’s aid society can become involved with your family by starting a court proceeding, or they may become involved with your family outside of court. In either situation, it is very important that you speak with a lawyer as soon as possible to know your rights.
You should never sign anything without having a lawyer review it first.
If you and your family are involved with a children’s aid society, your first interaction will be with a social worker. It’s important to know your rights, whether you’re a parent or a caregiver (such as a grandparent, aunt, uncle or sibling). Sometimes the social worker or society has the wrong information, or they might be over-reacting to a situation.
You may disagree with the decisions of the children’s aid society. They may request that you engage in community-based services (such as parenting classes or counselling), or, in more serious cases, they may remove your children from your care and place them with extended family members or in foster care (also known as "apprehension" or "brought to a place of safety").
Involvement with the Society Outside of Court
The children’s aid society may determine that your matter can be resolved without the necessity of starting a court proceeding. Child protection agencies sometimes negotiate out-of-court agreements with families about the care of children, such as the following types of arrangements:
- A voluntary care agreement
- A customary care agreement (an agreement for the care and supervision of a First Nation child by a person who is not the child’s parent, according to the custom of the child’s First Nation community)
- A temporary care agreement
- Participation in Indigenous alternative dispute resolution process, such as Talking Together or Talking Circles
If a children’s aid society is involved with your family outside of court, we can help you by providing advice and negotiating the terms of agreements.
Starting a Court Proceeding
The children’s aid society may determine that the seriousness of their child protection concerns cannot be resolved outside of court. In such a case, they will start a court proceeding. We can help you by attending court with you, preparing court documents, bringing and replying to motions (such as a temporary care and custody hearing), participating in settlement negotiations, and representing you at a trial.