Custody & Access

  1. JFCY does not represent on these matters; children receive legal services in family court through the Office of the Children’s Lawyer.

  2. JFCY does not represent on these matters; children receive legal services in child protection (family) court through the Office of the Children’s Lawyer.

    Voluntary Youth Service Agreements

    Starting Jan 1, 2018: A young person who is under the age of 18 can contact a Children’s Aid Society (CAS) if they are at risk of harm or facing harm. Harm can be physical, emotional, sexual harm, or neglect. 16 and 17 year olds who are not already getting help from CAS can now ask for help and enter into a Voluntary Youth Service Agreement (VYSA) with CAS – for more information, read Leaving Home.

  3. My parents are splitting up, what happens to me?

    If your parents separate or divorce, either one parent will have custody of you or your parents will share custody. You will live with the parent(s) who has custody. If one parent has custody, that parent will make decisions about your welfare. If your parents share custody, they will make those decisions together.

  4. What is an assessment?

    An assessment is a report prepared by a psychologist, social worker or other professional who may recommend where you should live. The assessor will meet with you and your parents, sometimes together and separately. What you say to the assessor can be put into the report. If you have questions about an assessment, a youth serving agency or lawyer can help you with this.

  5. Do I get to have a say?

    Once you are capable of understanding the situation, you have the right to give input by expressing your wishes. As you get older these views become more important.

    In court, you can have a lawyer to represent your wishes. If the judge thinks this is a good idea, the judge appoints a lawyer from the Office of the Children’s Lawyer. Sometimes your parents can ask the judge to appoint the Office of the Children’s Lawyer for you. If a lawyer is not appointed for you, you can ask your parent to talk to their lawyer about this.

    You can get information about custody an access from the Office of the Children’s Lawyer. There are also books that have information about custody and access.

    The process of custody and access can be difficult for everyone and many people will have input into the decision-making process. Your wishes are important, however, you will not always get what you want.

  6. Will I get to visit the family members I don’t live with?

    A decision will be made about your visits to your family members, including your brothers and sisters that you are not living with. Decisions can also be made about visits with your grandparents. Sometimes parents work out the times that you can call them on the telephone or that they can come to see you play sports or do other activities. Contact with you is called access.

  7. How old must I be to decide for myself where I live?

    If you are 16 years of age or older, you can decide where you want to live. This may or may not involve your parents. If you are under 16 years, depending on your ability to understand the situation, your views will be heard. Some courts have recently decided to give a child the right to go to court to give his or her views on the custody, access, or support terms in custody for access to brothers and sisters even if the parents or guardians do not agree.

    If you are under the age of 14 years there are laws that prevent parents form keeping you in their custody without the permission of the person who has legal custody.

    The law is different for young people in the care of CAS. Speak to an Advocate or Lawyer about about your situation.