Child Custody and Access

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Introduction

When you separate or divorce, you must arrange for the care of the children. A lawyer or mediator can help you work out parenting arrangements, including who will be responsible for making important decisions about the children and where they will live.

What You Should Know About Family Law in Ontario (available in 9 languages)
Contains information on the legal aspects of separation and divorce including caring for and financially supporting your children.
Separation and divorce: child custody, access and parenting plans (Community Legal Education Ontario)
Explains Ontario’s custody and access laws and addresses some of the issues that may arise.
Parenting Plan Checklist (Law Society of Upper Canada)
Lists the topics that parents should consider when preparing a parenting plan.
Children and Family Breakdown (Canadian Mental Health Association)
Information for parents to help children deal with separation and divorce.
Because Life Goes On ... Helping Children and Youth Live With Separation and Divorce
Site for parents in need of information and resources to help guide their children through separation and divorce, as well as for professionals in such fields as social services, health, justice, and education
Where do I stand? A child's guide to separation and divorce
Written for children whose parents separate or divorce. You may have questions about separation and divorce. This booklet can answer some of those questions
What Happens Next? Information for kids about separation and divorce
This booklet helps children learn about family law, and can also help them realize it's normal for them to have an emotional response to their parents' separation. Written for children between the ages of nine and twelve
Non-Parent Applications for Custody
There are special requirements for a person seeking custody of a child who is not his or her child. Non-parents must provide a recent police records check (completed within the previous 60 days) and authorize the children's aid societies in areas where they have lived to provide a report that indicates if they have been involved with the person. The court office will also check the court's records and prepare a list of all previous family cases that involve the non-parent or the child. If requested by the judge, they can also prepare a list of all previous criminal court files that involve the non-parents. For more information see: What you should know if you are a non-parent applying for custody of a child.

Alternatively, you can click here for a summary of the steps that must be taken by non-parent applicants and links to the various forms that will be required.
Resource List
Extensive list of books and websites for adults and children covering separation and divorce, parenting, emotional and financial issues. Includes age appropriate reading suggestions and interactive websites.

The Office of the Children's Lawyer

In Ontario, the Office of the Children's Lawyer acts on behalf of children with respect to their personal and property rights, and may represent children in custody, access, and child protection disputes.

About custody/access clinical reports
Clinical investigators in the Office of the Children's Lawyer can be appointed to conduct investigations and prepare reports that focus on the interests of your child/ren, provide a picture of your family's history, current situation, and parenting plans for the future. They may also provide recommendations to help you make decisions about ongoing parenting plans
Requesting the involvement of the Office of the Children's Lawyer
Describes the steps involved in requesting the involvement of the Children's Lawyer in Custody and Access cases
Intake criteria for custody/access
Discusses when the Office of the Children's Lawyer should or should not be involved.
Intake form
If a Judge has made a Court Order requesting that the Office of the Children's Lawyer provide services on behalf of the child(ren), this form must be completed by both parties and received by the Office of the Children's Lawyer within 10 days of the order having been signed

Custody and Access Assessments

Custody/access assessors can be appointed to conduct and inquiry into the family's circumstances and provide a professional's recommendations about the post-separation parenting arrangements

Child Abductions

Provides information about how to respond to child abductions in Ontario, including information about the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Related Topics

Caring for children
Looking after children during or after a separation can be difficult. Here are some links to some information that may help
Supervised access to children
Where there are concerns for the safety of the children and/or a parent, a court can require that visits with children be supervised. The parents can also come to agree to supervised visits without a court order
Family Law in Ontario (Law Society of Upper Canada)
Contains information and links to help you navigate a resolution of your custody and access issues.

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