Hello. My name is Anna Troitschanski and I am a lawyer for the Feldstein Family Law Group. Today I will be speaking to you about one way how children are represented in family law litigation – the Office of the Children’s Lawyer.
More often than not, in family law matters where the issues of custody and access are pending, my clients often ask me whether the children’s opinion will carry any weight in determining the custodial and residential arrangement for their children.
While children do not attend court or prepare materials for the court file and we never recommend discussing issues surrounding your separation or divorce with the children, one way we can involve children in the determination of their ongoing custody and access is to seek the involvement of the Office of the Children’s Lawyer.
The Office of the Children’s Lawyer is a law office in the Ministry of the Attorney General that is committed to the administration of justice on behalf of children under the age of 18. Lawyers within the office represent children in various areas of law including child custody and access disputes, child protection proceedings, and so on. After meeting with the parents, the children and other corollary sources (principal of the children’s school, doctors, extended family and other persons who have regular contact with the children) social workers prepare affidavits for the court in custody and access proceedings and may help lawyers who are representing children.
Because the Office of the Children’s Lawyer is government funded, it is not able to become involved in every custody and access matter. Once a court orders the appointment of the Office of the Children’s Lawyer, both parties must complete intake forms to help the Children’s Lawyer determine if their case is one that warrants their intervention. Should the Children’s Lawyer agree to become involved, they will commence their investigation and once complete, the Children’s Lawyer will hold a disclosure meeting with the parties and their counsel. As the name suggests, the disclosure meeting is where the Children’s Lawyer provides the position to be taken in litigation on behalf of the children. If a settlement is not achieved at a disclosure meeting, the matter proceeds to court.
Dealing with custody and access issues is not only emotionally taxing when a matter becomes contentious, but it can get complicated if you are not familiar with the court processes and government services that are available to parents or guardians. To learn more about the Office of the Children’s lawyer or other ways in which to ensure your children are protected in the family law process, please visit our website at www.separation.ca.
If you need advice on your own family law matter, please call us at 905-581-7222 to schedule a free initial consultation. We’re always happy to assist. Again, from Feldstein Family Law Group, I’m Anna Troitschanski. Thanks for watching.