Child Abductions Within Canada
If you believe that your child has been abducted by a family member, you should contact the local police right away. It is also recommended that you speak with a family lawyer as soon as possible to determine what steps can be taken in court to assist with the return of the child.
If there is no existing custody order or agreement in place and your child has been removed from their residence without your consent, you may need to start an application in the family court in the area where the child resided. In that application, you can ask the court for an order setting out the custody and access arrangements and requiring the other parent to return the child to Ontario.
In Canada, both the provincial and federal laws address custody of and access to children. If an application for divorce has already been started, the Divorce Act will apply and you will need to seek an order under that legislation. If you already have an order for custody of or access to the child under the Divorce Act, you should be able to have it enforced in another Canadian province or territory.
If divorce proceedings have not been initiated, the Ontario Children’s Law Reform Act governs custody matters in Ontario. Once you have an order from an Ontario court under the Children’s Law Reform Act, you may still need to have it filed with the family court in the other province or territory where your child has been removed to in order to have it enforced by the local authorities.
You should contact the local authorities as soon as possible to determine what steps are required in order to assist with the return of your child.
Outside of Canada
If you believe that your child has been taken out of the country, you should request that the local police contact the National Missing Children Services of the RCMP. You should also contact the Consular Affairs Bureau. They can be reached at:
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, ON K1A 0G2
Tel.: 1-800-387-3124, 1-800-267-6788 (in Canada), 613-996-8885 (locally)
Fax: 613-995-9221 or 613-996-5358
Where a child has been moved outside Canada, these cases are referred to as international child abductions. The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, known as the Hague Convention, can provide assistance where the child has been taken to a country that is also a signatory to the Convention. Approximately 80 countries have already adopted the Convention, 64 of which have reciprocity with Canada. Click here for a listing of those countries.
In Canada, each province has a Central Authority that can assist with cases for the return of the child both from and to Ontario. Contact information for the Central Authority in Ontario is:
Ashley Verkerk, Case manager
Jessica Brace, Case manager
Shane Foulds, Counsel
Caroline Brett, Counsel
Ministry of the Attorney General
Central Authority for Ontario
P.O. Box 640
Downsview, ON M3M 0B5
A very helpful publication has been prepared by the Consular Affairs Bureau of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada titled “International Child Abductions: a Manual for Parents”. This publication is available on-line at the Consular Affairs website. You can also contact the Consular Affairs Bureau at the above address.