The Office of the Children's Lawyer

The Office of the Children's Lawyer represents children under the age of 18 in court cases involving custody and access and child protection, as well as in civil, and estates and trusts cases.

The Office of the Children's Lawyer employs both lawyers and clinicians (social workers), who work on a fee-for-service basis across the province. Clinicians prepare reports for the court and help lawyers who are representing children.

Minors’ Funds

The Accountant of the Superior Court of Justice holds money and other assets paid into court for children under the age of eighteen. Some of the money can be paid out of court before a child becomes entitled to receive the money if the parent or caregiver of the child requires money for the child’s direct benefit. Money may only be paid out with the approval of the judge who reviews the request.

A parent or caregiver can submit a request for funds to the Minors’ Funds Program. Counsel for the Children’s Lawyer attends at the Superior Court every 4 to 6 weeks to request orders for payment out of court. In each case, a judge makes the decision about the request.

For more information about payment out of court, see the frequently asked questions.

Information and the forms needed to make a request for funds can be found here.

Custody and access

Court cases involving child custody and access usually involve a child's parents, but they can also include other family members. Sometimes the court needs independent information about the child's needs, wishes and interests and asks the Children's Lawyer to help. The Children's Lawyer determines what services, if any, will be provided, and can assign:

  • a lawyer to represent the child
  • a clinician to write a report for the court
  • lawyer and a clinical investigator to represent the child and a clinician.

Child protection

If a children's aid society believes a child needs protection because of neglect or abuse, or believes that a child is at risk of suffering harm, it can start a court application called a protection application.

A children's aid society may remove a child from his or her family, either temporarily or permanently. A children's aid society can also ask the court to allow it to supervise a child's care while the child is left with his or her parents, or other members of the child's family or community.

Once a court case has started, the court may direct the Office of the Children's Lawyer to assign a lawyer to represent the child. In child protection cases, the Office must assign a lawyer if requested by the court.

For more information, visit Children's Lawyer Involvement in Child Protection

Civil cases

Children can't sue or be sued in their own name in civil cases. If there is no adult willing and able to present the child's claim, the court can require the Office of the Children's Lawyer to act as a litigation guardian (someone who makes decisions for a child in court proceedings).

The Children's Lawyer also reviews proposed settlements of civil cases in which children are involved, but only if it is asked to do so by a judge.

For more information, see frequently asked questions about the role of the Children’s Lawyer in civil matters.

Estate/Trust cases

The Children's Lawyer represents child beneficiaries in some estate and trust cases.

For more information, see frequently asked questions about the role of the Children’s Lawyer in estate matters.

More Resources

Forms