Leaving Home will be a series of blog posts providing information to youth who have questions about their rights and responsibilities about leaving home. These blog posts offer general information only. For particular issues specific to a personal situation, contact JFCY to speak to a lawyer. Today’s blog peice is about when a youth can decide to leave home.
When can I decide where I want to live?
In Ontario, at 16 years of age or older, you can generally decide where you want to live and you do not need a legal guardian.
You can live with someone else against the wish of your legal guardian, The person you choose to live with will not be charged with a criminal offence as long as they do not assist you in leaving home.
If you are under 16 years old, (or if you and your parents live in another province where the age for leaving home is 18 years), your parents can contact the police to have you returned home if you are living in a place that is not safe; in other words, a place where you are at risk of physical, emotional or sexual abuse. The Children’s Aid Society can also take you into care and place you away from home.
Can I apply to be “Emancipated” from my parents?
We do not have laws on “Emancipation” in Ontario. In some States in the U.S.A., there are emancipation laws which let someone 16 years and older apply to a court, to be free from the custody and control of their parents or guardians and to be responsible for their own support. This process does not exist in Ontario.
What if I am under 16 and can’t live at home?
If you are under 16 years of age, the local Children’s Aid Society (CAS) may be legally required to take you into their care if they believe that you are in need of protection. For example, if your parents kicked you out and you have no place to live, or you are being abused. They may place you with a relative, in a foster care home, or in a group home.
If you and your parents cannot get along, but you are not in need of protection, you may be able to get a Temporary Care Agreement with CAS. This means you can stay in a foster home or a group home for a while and then return home when things are better.
If you had to leave home and are staying with a person who CAS believes you are safe with, CAS may allow you to stay with that person.
What if I’m over 16 and can’t live at home? Do my parents have to support me?
If you are 16 years or older and you were forced to leave home, your parents may still have to support you. For example, you are entitled to support if you left home because you were kicked out without a very good reason, or if you were abused, or if your living situation at home is unsafe, unbearable or impossible.
Your parents must make sure that you have food, clothes and a place to live. Otherwise, they must provide enough money to get these necessities for you. The amount of support you will get is based on your parents’ income, not on what you need. In general, your parents must provide support until you are 18 years old or longer if you are enrolled in a full-time educational program.Your parents do not have to support you if you are 16 years or older and have left home of your own free will.
You can apply for a Legal Aid Certificate from Legal Aid Ontario to pay for a family lawyer to help you claim support from your parents.
In general, the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) will not be available to help you if you leave home after you turn 16. However, there are some situations in which CAS may help 16 and 17 year olds on a voluntary basis. You should call your local CAS to see if the situations apply to you.
Kids Help Phone – http://www.kidshelpphone.ca/
416-973-4444 / 1-800-668-6868 (outside Toronto).
Children’s Aid Society – 416-987-7725 in Toronto
To locate your local CAS, visit the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Society’s website at www.oacas.org
Information about community, government, social and health issues
Dial “211” from inside the Toronto area, or visit www.211Toronto.ca
Outside GTA, check the local Blue Book or visit www.211Ontario.ca
TO CONSULT A LAWYER:
Justice for Children and Youth:
415 Yonge Street, Suite 1203
GTA (416) 920 – 1633
Legal Aid Ontario – www.lao.on.ca
416-598-0200 / 1-800-668-8258
Lawyer Referral Service – 416-947-3330 / 1-800-268-8326
Referrals to lawyers; 30 min free advice.