Having the Children's Aid (Child and Family Services) attend at your home or talk to your children at school can be very stressful and upsetting. The Children's Aid does have the right to talk to your children privately. School officials and other service providers have the legal obligation to contact the Children's Aid if they suspect child abuse or neglect. Usually, the Children's Aid will talk to your child and close the file.
The next level of intervention would be to work with the Family on a "voluntary" basis. The Children's Aid may encourage you to enter into a Voluntary Services Agreement. This Agreement is voluntary from the point of view that entering into it is optional. You are expected to obey the Agreement, once you have signed it. Typically, the Children's Aid Society may threaten you with removing the children or going to Court if you refuse to sign. It is best to talk to a lawyer at this stage. Often, the Agreement will contain a synopsis of events that generally reflects the Children's Aid's version of events. If the Society takes the matter to Court, this Agreement will form part of the Society's evidence including the synopsis. The Society is governed by certain laws regarding the apprehension of children. They generally need to obtain a warrant from a Justice of the Peace, except under certain extreme circumstances. The Society has no choice but to apprehend a child in certain circumstances. Usually, these circumstances do not exist if the Children's Aid Society is asking that you enter into a Voluntary Services Agreement.The next level of intervention is taking the parents to Court by way of an Application for a Supervision Order (where the child stays with one or both parents), a Society Wardship Order (where the child lives with a foster family on a temporary basis) or Crown Wardship Order (Where the child becomes a Ward of the Crown, usually without access, with a view to find an adoptive family for the child).
This is a very emotional and difficult area of Law. Generally, Legal Aid will issue certificates to defend these proceedings as long as you qualify financially. I am not on the Legal Aid panel and do not accept Legal Aid certificates. A list of panel lawyers can be found on the Legal Aid website or at the FLIC office at most courthouses.
It is important to remember that when the Children's Aid starts an Application against you, that you also have an opportunity to tell the judge your side of what happened by completing an Answer. An Answer is a very important documents and if at all possible, should be completed with the assistance of a lawyer. Many people will complete the Answer and will then obtain a lawyer, once they have been to Court a few times. It is better to have a lawyer represent you at the begining, particularly as these cases are very time sensitive and it is easy to run out of time. The Answer sets out your defence and a lawyer will know what to put in the document, and what not to put in. You always have to be truthful but often unrepresented parties will spend a lot of time talking about irrelevant issues and will not talk about relevant issues.
This is an informational site only and is not intended as a source for Legal Advice. Please remember that you need to formally retain me in order for me to become your lawyer. Jane McKenzie Law Office will deal with all clients equally, courteously and free from harassment. In particular, Jane McKenzie Law Office will not discriminate against any persons for any reason whatsoever, including but not limited to age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability.