THIS LAW OFFICE ACCEPTS CLIENTS INVOLED IN LEGAL DISPUTES WITH THE CHILDREN'S AID SOCIETIES ACROSS ONTARIO, INCLUDING:
Native Child and Family Services of Toronto
The Children's Aid Society Of Toronto
The Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto
The Children's Aid Society of Hamilton
The Catholic Children's Aid Society of Hamilton
The Jewish Family and Child Service, Toronto
The Durham Children's Aid Society, Oshawa
The Family and Children's Services Niagqra, St. Catherines
The Halton Children's Aid Society, Burlington
The Highland Shores Children's Aid Society, Belleville
The York Region Children's Aid Society, Newmarket
Peel Children's Aid, Brampton
WE REPRESENT PARENTS, GRANDPARENTS AND OTHER RELATIVES
CHILDREN'S AID CASES, CHILDREN'S AID LAWYER
Responsible parents take good care of their children, but sometimes mistakes do happen and all of a sudden, the Children's Aid Society is on your door-steps. You do not want to have your children taken away and placed in a foster home or even adopted without a chance of you ever getting to see them. Fortunately, in the majority of the cases, your children stay with or returned to you, under your care and custody, with some kind of monitoring or supervision for a few months (if the situation calls for such monitoring or supervision).
Ideally, there should be no intervention by the Children's Aid Society; such intervention, among other adverse consequences, violates your privacy, hurts your self-esteem, causes you doubt about your parenting abilities and causes unnecessary rumours to circulate among your 'friends' and other community members.
In fairness, however, all Children's Aid Societies have a legislative mandate to protect children. After all, children are more vulnerable than adults and are susceptible to abuse.
The bests interests of the children are paramount to cases involving allegations of child abuse, and the Courts will not hesitate to ensure that the child is protected through proper measures in place.
But a good parent does not want to end up in courts fighting to get back his children due to an inadvertent mistake that in the long run will not cause any lasting or severe physical or psychological harm to the child. Our office ensures that your rights as a parent are fully protected and the Court hears 'both sides of the story'. Many families are falling victim to false complaints of child neglect and abuse from overzealous former partners, teachers, former friends and even family members. The Courts know that; but they also know that there are instances where such allegations are well founded.
Even if you erred, do not despair. Our office has helped many parents regain custody of their children, and in the majority of these successfully stories the parents had to work hard to demonstrate parental abilities and sound parenting practices - not in the eyes of the Children's Aid Society but in the eyes of independent arbiters such as judges. Thus, legal argument and skilful persuasion would be helpful but not helpful enough if the parent is irresponsible and fails to meet normal expectations as regard his/her parental duties. Drug and alcohol abuse, for example, if untreated may jeopardise your ability to parent your children. This law office gets involved not only to represent you in court but also to ensure that your get the help you need through various agencies.
I stay abreast of current child welfare issues and understand how intimidating it can be when a protection representative from the Children's Aid Society shows up.
If you are looking for a CAS lawyer who handles CAS cases in Toronto (311 Jarvis Street and 47 Sheppard Avenue), Brampton, Whitby and other Ontario cities and towns call me. With 35 years of experience in family and child welfare law, I can help you navigate through the hazardous undercurrents of allegations of child abuse.
Where a children’s aid society believes that a child is in need of protection from the child’s parents and other custodians, and a court order is required to protect the child, the CAS must bring an Application to the court on notice to the persons having charge of the child.
If the time required to make an Application would result in the child being at risk, the protection worker may act to protect the child first, and seek a court order afterward. If time permits, the worker first obtains a Warrant of Apprehension from a Justice of the Peace. If the time required to obtain a warrant would result in the child being at risk of harm, the worker may apprehend the child without a warrant. Police have the same powers of apprehension as a child protection worker.
When a child has been removed and brought to a place of safety, the society must, within five (5) days, either return the child to the person who had charge prior to the intervention or to the person who has a custody order that is enforceable in Ontario, or enter into a Temporary Care Agreement with the parent, or bring the matter to court for a hearing.
“Bringing the matter to court” means the society must commence a Protection Application, and generally the society will also bring a motion regarding the temporary care and custody of the child pending final disposition of the Protection Application.
As a result of the short time frame, the parent is often advised orally about the court date and time, and may be served with copies of the society’s documents at the courthouse. If the parent retains a lawyer before the first appearance, the lawyer will contact the society for copies of the society’s Application, notice of motion, affidavit(s) and other court documents.
On the first appearance, the court generally has only the society’s evidence before it. Normally the parents’ lawyer would ask for an adjournment to file responding material, such as an answer and plan of care, a notice of motion for a temporary care and custody and an affidavit in support.
The onus is on the Society to establish on credible and trustworthy evidence that there are reasonable and probable grounds to believe that there is a real possibility that if the child is returned to his parents, it is more probable than not that the child will suffer harm and the child cannot be adequately protected by terms and conditions of an interim supervision order.
On the first appearance, the lawyer for the children’s parents may wish to argue for the return of the children. There are occasions, however, that the Society cannot meet this test on the face of its own affidavit materials before the Court on a First Appearance. If that is the case, the parent's lawyer can bring this to the attention of the Court and argue for the return of the child on the First Appearance. This does not prejudice parent's lawyer in still requesting a temporary care and custody motion at a later date so that the parents' responding materials can be filed if this argument at the First Appearance is not successful. Lawyers appearing on child welfare matters normally request that any temporary care and custody order made at the First Appearance be made on a without prejudice basis so that the parent can then file responding materials and the motion can be argued at a later temporary care and custody motion.
Under the Child and Family Services Act, the court cannot adjourn for more than 30 days without the consent of the parties. Depending upon the circumstances, it may be in the parent’s interests to request as brief an adjournment as possible (in order to argue as soon as possible that the child should be returned), or seek sufficient time to make a realistic plan before arguing the motion (especially if resources need to be put in place to shore up the plan).
If an alternate family or community member is proposed as the caregiver, notice of this plan should be brought to the society’s attention as soon as possible as it may take some time for the society to assess the plan. Proposing an alternate family member at this stage does not mean that the parents are acknowledging that they cannot care for the child. The parents’ position may well be that they wish the return of the child, but in the event that is not the outcome, there is an alternate plan available. This approach can reduce delay if it becomes obvious that the child cannot be safely returned to the parents’ care.
If the child has been removed and placed in foster care, he or she will most likely remain in the CAS placement on a “without prejudice” basis following the first appearance. The lawyer for the child’s parent can seek an access order that maximizes the amount of contact with the child during the adjournment while being sufficiently realistic that the parent will manage to attend at all ordered and scheduled visits and will not be unduly disruptive to the child. The access order set up at the first appearance often sets the stage for future developments in the case.
When an application is commenced without the child having been removed (for example, where the society is seeking a supervision order on notice), reasonable notice should be given to the parties so as to enable them to prepare responding evidence in advance of the first appearance.
Negotiating child welfare cases
The parties may negotiate the terms of a temporary or final supervision in advance rather than or in addition to filing responding materials.
At any stage of the proceeding, the parties have an obligation to consider alternative methods of dispute resolution such as mediation. If mediation might settle the dispute, the parties should move quickly to put this in place.
Family law and child protection negotiation demand frank honesty, flexibility, and imagination. Child protection cases are not set in a win/lose dichotomy. Apart from any situations involving criminal sanctions for child abuse, this exercise is not a power struggle and is not about blaming (although invariably blame does become part of the arguments. There should be a search for workable solutions that respect the needs of the child and the abilities of the parents in the context of available community resources.
However, throughout the negotiation or mediation the one item that is not negotiable is the safety and security of the child.
Effective negotiations should endeavour to achieve the following:
• Minimize society-parent hostility;
• Reduce the intensity of interfamilial disputes;
• Move toward stability;
• Design and adopt a plan of care satisfactory to the society in which the parents are emotionally invested as co-creators;
• Enable services to be implemented promptly;
• Agree as to all or some of the facts giving rise to the child being apprehended;
• Keep the focus on the identification of issues, and problem-solving
• Avoid last minute rushed court house corridor agreements that leave the parents feeling coerced and powerless.
What Can Be Negotiated
Social workers working for the society are responsible for considering negotiation. They have a statutory obligation to ensure that any agreement made (in mediation or otherwise) is consistent with the safety and well-being of the child. Facts cannot be mediated, including facts about the existence or non-existence of abuse or neglect. What can be mediated is the course of action parents and the Director follow as a consequence of those facts.
Among the issues that can be negotiated at traditional negotiation or in mediation include:
• What services the society can offer the family, and obtaining agreement that the family will cooperate with as part of a plan of care;
• What ancillary services by volunteers or society employees that will allow a parent to participate in the identified programs;
• Determining what changes in the child’s home environment will ensure the child’s safety, and then enlisting the parents’ cooperation;
• Whether and how the child’s safety is to be preserved by making arrangements for the child to reside with family or friends;
• How long the child will be in the care of the child protection society;
• Making a plan to ensure the child’s participation in and exposure to cultural, racial, linguistic, and religious heritage while the child is in the society’s care;
• The details of any supervision order, including meeting dates with the social worker;
• The terms necessary to apply for an order by consent—including the extension of an existing order;
• Whether or not parents can have any input into selecting the child’s foster placement;
• How and when the parent or others in the extended family and the circle of the child’s adult and older child friends will have contact with the child by phone, mail and in person, and whether any pre-existing pattern of overnight visits with third parties (for example a regularly monthly sleep-over at Grandma’s);
• The amount and structure of a parent’s financial contributions towards the maintenance of the child in the society’s care.
Who Should Participate At the Negotiations?
The ideal negotiation or mediation would involve participation by all the chief parties.
• the parents;
• the parents’ respective lawyer;
• the child protection society’s lawyer;
• the family service worker;
• the child’s social worker;
• the supervising social worker;
• the child’s lawyer, if any;
• the child, under certain circumstances ;
• the mediator, if any.
There may be circumstances when the child's presence in part or all of the discussion can be useful for the mediator. Whether the particular child or children would benefit emotionally by participating should be in the sole discretion of the mediator after the mediator has met alone with the child (and Children's lawyer if one is acting for the child).
The children should not be coerced or forced to express a view or make a decision or take part in mediation meetings by any of the parties or their lawyers. If the children are participating in some of the mediation discussions, care must be taken to ensure that all parties and the children and their respective lawyers are clear that the children are not being asked to make any decisions concerning the parenting plan being worked on, nor are the children being expected to take sides, or to provide evidence for or against any parent or caregiver. If the children participate so too should the Children's Lawyer, if appointed in the case.
In child protection cases there are three basic categories of negotiation:
1. Lawyer – Lawyer negotiation between lawyers for the parents and the lawyer representing the child protection society.
2. Mediation in which the parents and the society’s responsible personnel, usually in the presence of their respective lawyers, negotiate directly with each other, facilitated by an appropriately trained and experienced mediator pursuant to an agreement to mediate that spells out the procedure.
3. Judicial Pre-trial Settlement conference.
Parental involvement with negotiation and mediation will meet the parent’s need to be involved in arriving at a plan of care that serves the best interest of their child. The parent is more likely to feel respected and understood through this process. Participating in arriving at a solution will provide the parent an emotional investment in the outcome plan of care, and will increase the likelihood of compliance and cooperation with the society.
This law office accepts legal aid certificates for child protection cases. If you are looking for a CAS legal aid lawyer, give us a call.
We appear in Toronto Courts, Brampton, Durham Region, Newmarket, and other Ontario courts.
GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT CAS CASES
Controlling Your Anger When Dealing with the CAS or Children’ Aid Societies
By Andreas Solomos – an experienced Toronto lawyer handling children’s aid defence cases.
When the Children’s Aid or CAS comes knocking on your door, one of the most powerful emotions you will experience is anger: anger at yourself for getting into a situation that prompted someone to notify the CAS alleging your children are abused or run the risk of suffering physical or emotional harm; angry at your spouse for causing you all that trouble; or angry at the CAS’s workers for intruding into your life and your children’s lives.
I will discuss the anger you experience toward the Children’s Aid Society or CAS and its employees, agents, and associates.
In Ontario, child protection is governed by the provisions of the Child and Family Services Act (the Act). The primary purpose of the Act is to promote the best interests, protection, and well-being of children. However, there are five additional purposes, so long as they are consistent with the best interests, protection, and well-being of children. Two of these additional purposes are,
• To recognize that while parents may need help in caring for their children, that help should give support to the autonomy and integrity of the family unit and, wherever possible, be provided on the basis of mutual consent.
• To recognize that the least disruptive course of action that is available and is appropriate in a particular case to help a child should be considered.
Responsible parents have their children’s protection and well-being at heart. However, mistakes do happen. Feeling anger is natural and understandable when the CAS intervenes. However, unleashing uncontrollable anger at the CAS workers will hinder your efforts to keep the CAS at bay or to get your children back if they had been apprehended.
Parents often call me to announce that they had received a telephone call from the CAS agency who wants to send a child protection worker to their home to interview them about allegations of child abuse. “What should I say?” “What should I do?” “How should I handle the situation?” “Can I refuse to let them come to my home?”
There is no easy answer to these questions. Every situation is unique, and, hence, demands a unique response. However, the first thing I tell these disgruntled parents is to try to remain calm and let the CAS do its job. Preventing the agency from investigating such allegations is not a wise decision. The agency has powers to intervene with or without a warrant and with the assistance of the police.
You may wish to consult with a lawyer before agreeing to meet with the representative from the CAS, even if the allegations seem trivial to you. See the meeting as an opportunity to explain and alleviate the protection concerns. Also, use this opportunity to become a better parent. If little concerns are not addressed the situation may get out of hand later with more drastic consequences for you and your family.
Even if the CAS decides to intervene, excessive anger can - and often does - destroy the opportunity to learn from your mistakes and to demonstrate that the ‘least disruptive’ course of action should be applied to your situation. The words you use, the subtle gestures you make when you speak and interact with the CAS workers can convey a positive or negative response.
OBLIGATIONS OF THE CHILDREN’S AID SOCIETIES
According to case law, the CAS (also referred to as “Society”) has the following obligations:
- To conduct a thorough investigation before acting.
- To consider alternative measures for the protection of children before proceeding to court.
- To continue its investigation up until the time of a final court determination in a vigorous, professional manner.
- To treat all clients fairly and equally and with as much dignity as possible.
- To reassess its position as more information becomes available.
- To ensure that its workers are skilled in the performance of their roles.
Try to avoid exaggeration and insulting language. Communicating effectively with these people is a sign of competence in your abilities to properly parent your children. The opportunity to make these workers feel at ease is easily ruined when parents insult one another in the presence of the CAS workers and in the presence of the children, when they belittle one another, when they insult the workers with personal remarks, and when they harass the workers. Whenever you are forced to interact with these people, you will find yourself in a tense, uncomfortable and conflict-ridden situation.
To be able to communicate effectively, you should prepare yourself before the meeting by rehearsing how you will express your thoughts, concerns, opinion, feelings, and beliefs about the situation in a way that will create an opportunity for you to address the CAS concerns, learn something beneficial in the process, and hopefully prompt the CAS to close their file and leave you and your family alone. However, in situations where the evidence of abuse is obvious, the CAS would want to remain involved for as long as it takes to ensure the protection and well-being of your children. In such situations, they bring protection proceedings, and you would have to respond to the allegations at court.
If the CAS decides to bring protection proceedings by serving and filing a protection application and other related documents, you can continue to demonstrate confidence in your abilities as a parent to care for your children by learning to control your anger.
Parents communicate with the CAS workers and supervisors in angry ways often because they do not feel that the CAS is there to help them but rather take the children away from them. If the CAS had apprehended their children and placed them in foster homes, they become frustrated for not getting their children back soon enough. However, frustration can produce angry modes of responding.
Not every CAS employee is skillful enough at handling the frustration of an agonizing mother whose child is taken away from her. Some CAS workers can intentionally or unintentionally agitate or provoke a vulnerable parent to become angry; then the CAS can try to justify a radical response and argue that the parent has anger management issues. The good news is that many workers are well-trained and can often help you resolve the issues between you and your children so “that help should give support to the autonomy and integrity of the family unit.”
When you as a parent convince yourself that nothing positive can come out of your interaction with the CAS, the act of releasing anger and frustration can cloud your reasoning and get you into deeper trouble. In the middle of an argument or disagreement you may conclude, “This worker is a moron, he will never understand me, my difficulties and my situation.” But this is an Anger Reinforcing Perception that will obstruct your main objective of maintaining the “autonomy and integrity of the family unit.”
If you have not put enough effort into examining the validity of your perceptions by generalizing about the agency and its employees, you may not be able to use the opportunity to create rapport and gain empathy and understanding. Your anger may cut you off from getting the support you will need from the worker who may go out of her/his way to mention the positive points about you in her/his report to her/his supervisor.
Give the worker a chance to work with you. The moment you engage the worker in a hostile and critical way, you destroy whatever opportunity exists for you to build a better relationship that would ultimately yield to the desired outcome.
Many child welfare cases can be resolved by learning to master human interactions. Antagonizing the CAS workers will seldom yield a beneficial outcome. There are times, however, that you must stand your ground and fight for your legal rights; if the worker distorts the facts, uses innuendos, exaggerates, refers to your comments without the contexts, and looks for every opportunity to make you look a bad parent, you have every right to be angry. However, even in these situations, it will serve your cause to remain calm and collected. The times when consequences are the greatest are the times when the stakes are high, and you lose control of yourself. Dealing with the child protection court and legal difficulties with the local CAS requires that you learn to be “cool under pressure.” Going to court takes you out of your natural environment and places you in a position of helplessness and lack of control.
Dealing with the Children’s Aid Society is not easy. Try to use affirmations that fight your anger reinforcing perceptions. For example, try using the following affirmations:
• “Ruminating over the CAS vengeance will not make things any better. I have to try my best to get my life back on track”.
• “The CAS and its workers may seem as though they are set up to destroy my family. I can control a lot of what steps I will take to maintain the unity of my family, and with my actions (such as counseling, etc.), I can influence the outcome.”
• “Dealing with difficult CAS workers is always a pain in the ass; however, I am going to try my best to control the situation around these difficult people, and I must interact with if for no other reason than to keep my children.”
• “The least I can do to myself is to not let difficult people employed by the Children’s Aid Society have the satisfaction of getting under my skin.”
Controlling your anger when dealing with the CAS has practical benefits. There is little to be gained by having angry interactions with the agency. The important point is to disengage from angry interactions so that they do not escalate into problems that will negatively affect your efforts to keep your children or get your children back if the agency had taken them away from your care and custody.
A HANDFUL OF TIPS ON HOW TO MAKE A GOOD IMPRESSION IN THE CHILD PROTECTION COURT
We know that first impressions last and influence our behaviour. We should not go out of our way to try to impress someone, but we should be aware that our demeanour will be noticed. When it comes to courtroom demeanour, a first good impression will imprint an image of you in the mind of the judge (or jurors) and may have an influence on the outcome of your case. In theory, judges and jurors are supposed to be unbiased and neutral, but in reality, they are influenced by external stimuli, just like you and I. They are not only influenced by what they hear; your overall appearance, body language, the tone of voice and the way you go about asking and answering questions will have an impact on your case.
Your overall appearance
1. Be clean. Nothing is more offensive than a bad body odour; it creates a negative aura around the person and conveys the image of someone with low self-esteem and lack of confidence. I cannot emphasize enough how important cleanliness is. Even if you cannot afford to buy soap, a quick shower with just water will do the job. And for men, don’t forget to shave, unless you are prevented for religious reasons.
2. Wear clean clothes. You will be at a close proximity with court staff, lawyers, CAS workers, and witnesses. Most of us are tactful and we will not comment on the smell that radiates from your clothes, but we cannot help noticing it.
If as a parent of a child that the local Children’s Aid Society seeks to protect you must "take the stand”, that is to testify, you may be remarkably close to the judge, and odour of your body and your clothes will fill the air between you and the judge. Clean your clothes every day so you wear clean clothes in court.
3. Avoid flashy patterns and eccentric styles. There are studies on how juries and judges are influenced, and the style and colour of your clothes are some of those elements. Avoid dark browns, colourful patterns, and populated styles.
a. For men, I suggest plain blue or grey jackets with grey pants and white shirt. Some of my clients ask me if they should wear a tie. My response to that is "it depends.” If you are a blue-collar worker, avoid the tie because it will convey a message that is not really you; you are not there to impress. You are there to win your case. Be unpretentious. If you do not like blazers, and the weather permits it, wear a light cotton sweater. If you are a businessman or professional who wears ties to work every day, by no means, put on a tie; but it should be a plain tie that will match your clothes.
b. For women, I also suggest plain colours and clothes that are not too tied. As for colours, women can be a little more adventurous, but if you want to play it safe, wear plain patterns and avoid pinks or reds.
4. The tone of your voice. Cultivate an elastic voice. When you get up in the morning getting ready for court, practice singing the following: ding, dong, bing, bong, king, kong, alternating between low and high tones. Try it…diiiinggg, dooongg, bingiiiing, boooong, kiiiingggg, kooongg, loud, louder, and then deep and slow. Your voice will become elastic and when you speak in court, everyone will hear you. When speaking to the judge or the witnesses, modify the pitch of your voice to suit the distance between you and the listener. If you have to "speak up? then do speak up. Too often, soft voices are associated with nervousness and shyness, and the judges are sensitive to that and they will try to make you feel comfortable. For impact, however, vary the tone of your voice as you emphasize parts of your testimony.
5. Your body language. Avoid moving around too much. We know that communication is mostly body language and the tone of our voice. Try not to imitate courtroom drama you saw on television. To be dramatic actors and actresses move around a lot and point their fingers at the opposing counsel or witnesses. Avoid these tactics; they do not work in the real courtroom environment. Try to stay put in one place while speaking and move only when you have to show a document to a witness or pick up an exhibit from the clerk.
6. Move your hands gracefully. It is always a good idea to move your hands. Scientific research shows that more nerve connections exist between the hands and the brain than between any other parts of the body. Unconsciously, therefore, your hands reveal your attitude towards another person, place, or situation. By the way you position your hands, rub your palms, and fiddle your fingers you are telling anyone who is paying attention what you are really feeling. To show honesty, keep your palms facing up. When people hold their hands in a front facing open position the words that would match this position would be along the lines of, "Honestly, you can absolutely trust that I’m telling you the truth."
7. Facial expressions. Smiling helps, but not all the times. People with a perpetually sunny expression can be mistaken as frivolous or less serious. I tell my clients who must go to court because their children are apprehended (taken away) by the Children’s Aid Society or CAS to avoid smiling too often, for it conveys a message of lack of understanding of the gravity of the situation. If the apprehension relates to allegations of child abuse or criminal neglect regarding your children, your children, reputation, money, and liberty are at stake. Therefore, be composed and look serious, but not too grave. When you hear something that you do not like or which is totally false, remain composed. Avoid making facial expressions of disbelief by shaking your head. And look at the judge when you speak, establishing a good eye contact.
8. When being questioned as a parent, grandparent or other relative in the child protection court,
· Avoid being argumentative. During the course of my 35-year career as a family and children’s aid lawyer in Toronto handling child protection cases, I questioned many witnesses, both in the courtroom and in special examiners’ offices. Whatever you say becomes part of the record, and the judges will hear it or have it read to them. If you are too argumentative with the person who examines you-usually a lawyer-your testimony will be lost in the clouds of these arguments and will have an adverse effect on your case. The worst thing to do is to argue with the judge. Just listen and answer the question asked of you. You do not have to agree if something suggested to you is not true. You do not have to admit to child neglect if it is not true. Just say, "With respect, I do not agree with that statement" or "This is not what happened, your Honour". And then you explain.
· Admit the obvious. If the questioner, asks you something that is obviously correct, just admit it and move on. If you are perennially disagreeable, all of the sudden the cards will start falling and your case will be lost.
· Answer truthfully to the best of your recollection. If you tell lies, sooner or later you will be caught because judges and lawyers are sophisticated enough to test the accuracy of your statements by means of other witnesses and evidence, including expert evidence. Tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
· Do not blame or criticize your children. Also, you do not have to remind the judge how much you love your children. The court must establish that the children have suffered harm while under your care as defined by the Child, Youth and Family Services Act.
IS YOUR CHILD OR GRANDCHILD IN NEED OF PROTECTION?
To determine whether a child is in need of protection, the court examines the evidence as a whole to determine if a child has suffered physical harm by your failure as a person in charge of the child (usually a parent) to adequately care for, provide for, supervise or protect the child, or if there is a pattern of neglect in caring for, providing for, supervising or protecting the child; the court will also determine is there is a risk that the child is likely to suffer physical harm inflicted by the person having charge of the child or caused by or resulting from that person’s, failure to adequately care for, provide for, supervise or protect the child, or) pattern of neglect in caring for, providing for, supervising or protecting the child; other considerations are:
- Whether the child has been sexually abused or sexually exploited, by the person having charge of the child or by another person where the person having charge of the child knows or should know of the possibility of sexual abuse or sexual exploitation and fails to protect the child.
- there is a risk that the child is likely to be sexually abused or sexually exploited.
- the child requires treatment to cure, prevent or alleviate physical harm or suffering and the child’s parent or the person having charge of the child does not provide the treatment or access to the treatment, or, where the child is incapable of consenting to the treatment under the Health Care Consent Act, 1996 and the parent is a substitute decision-maker for the child, the parent refuses or is unavailable or unable to consent to the treatment on the child’s behalf.
- the child has suffered emotional harm, demonstrated by serious anxiety, depression, withdrawal, self-destructive or aggressive behaviour, or delayed development.
HOW TO BE PROACTIVE
1. Meet with and speak to your children’s teacher and service providers about your children’s issues.
2. Take an anger management course if you have anger management issues.
3. Take a parenting course to better your skills as a parent.
4. Expect your children to respect boundaries in your home.
5. If you are being investigated, follow up with the children’s aid worker to find out the status of your case.
6. If you feel that the worker is abusing his/her position of authority, do not hesitate to contact his/her supervisor of request a meeting with the managerial staff at the CAS office.
7. If you are being accused of negligence regarding your children do not hesitate to hire an experienced CAS lawyer who specializes in these matters.
8. Keep Your Home clean; have enough food in the home; clothe your children appropriately and adequately; keep all prescriptions in a safe place away from your children’s reach; equip your house with carbon monoxide, and smoke detectors; and children proof your home with proper electrical outlets and appliances.
WHAT ANDREAS SOLOMOS, ONTARIO CHILDREN’S AID DEFENCE LAWYER CAN DO FOR YOU:
1. Schedule a first meeting with you at no cost to discuss your child protection concerns.
2. Provide you with legal advice and representation.
3. Communicate with the children’s aid society about your concerns.
4. Address the concerns of the children’s aid society.
5. Provide you with a list of service providers that can assist you.
6. Guide you on how to legally handle your children’s aid situation.
7. Prepare you for court.
8. Speak to the judges and the CAS lawyers about your case.
9. Strive to protect your legal rights.
10. Provide advocacy on your behalf.
11. Follow up with all legal aspects of your case.
Our law office can get in touch with all the children's aid societies across Ontario, including Indigenous societies.
Contact Andreas Solomos, experienced children’s aid lawyer, for a free consultation. Parents (mothers, fathers), siblings (brothers, sisters) grandparents (grandfather, grandmother), aunts, uncles, and other relatives feel free to call for a confidential discussion about your situation involving children and the children aid society.
IF THE CHILDREN'S AID TAKES YOU TO COURT
IF THE CHILDREN’S AID SOCIETY TAKES YOU TO COURT
Here is some “Don’ts” during these tough situations that you may face if you must go to court to answer to allegations of child abuse:
• Do not criticize the judge or the court process.
• Do not give the CAS workers the impression that you think they are idiots. Everyone who does something ten times a day will have an advantage over someone who is doing it for the first time. Be polite to them even if they are nasty to you. It makes better impression on anyone and will almost take some of the wind out of their sails.
• Do not let the CAS workers and those who work for the CAS know which buttons they can push, because they can wear those buttons out at every opportunity.
• Do not express instant hatred for the CAS investigators and other workers. Chances are if you make it personal, they will too. I have seen workers and lawyers who often look for reasons to close the case. If you get up in their face and imply that they are morons, all you are doing is giving them motivation to find something to make you look bad.
• Do not get frustrated or angry if the CAS workers cannot see how good a parent you are. If you influence things as positively as you can, in the end it does not matter.
• Do not lie. Credibility is a crucial element in all child welfare cases. Lying will cause more trouble than it will ward off.
• Do not allow the CAS and its workers to assume “superhuman powers.” Just because they became involved in your life and are scrutinizing you this does not mean they have unfettered power to make you look bad. If you give them that power, you will have more reason to behave defensively.
• Do not allow yourself to be totally consumed by your situation.
• Do not assume the Society’s worker or the foster parent can be your friend with whom you can discuss secrets, personal matters and confide inner fears. Anything you say can be used against you.
• Do not harass the CAS lawyer or workers. Why would you want to increase anyone’s motivation to make your life miserable?
• Do not imply that anyone in authority does not know what they are talking about or does not have the experience to judge you.
• Do not use sarcasm. Sarcastic comments and condescending attitude toward authority are unwise strategies.
• Do not use sentences such as, “That’s a lie?” If you disagree, do so by acknowledging what the opposing person had said and state politely “but I’m sorry I cannot agree.”
• Do not give answers to questions with questions of your own. That tactic seldom works with judges.
• Do not evade answering the question asked of you.
• Do not use the expressions, “To tell you the truth,” or “I swear on my children’s lives, and so on.” Such statements be considered “oversell” by people who are questioning you.
• Do not interrupt someone when they are speaking.
Here are some important “Do’s” when dealing with the CAS investigations or testifying in court:
1. Remain polite, cordial, and respectful because it is in your best interests to remain so.
2. Remain pleasant.
3. Give the impression that the process going around you is uncomfortable, but you understand the necessity and importance of it.
4. Keep a low profile.
5. Address people in authority with the proper terminology.
6. Admit your mistakes. Admitting to some mistakes is often seen as a positive.
7. Limit your range of emotional expression; do not explode in laughter or in anger. Smile when you are pleased. Remain neutral when you are displeased.
8. Listen. Pause before responding to allegations. Respond in your head first and then review what you would like to say.
9. Practice sitting still and quiet your body. Relax the muscles of your face.
10. Choose your words carefully.
11. Speak when you are spoken to and use “Sir”, “Mr.”, “Ms.” “Ma’am” or “Your Honour” or whatever title they go by.
12. Watch your body language, your side comments, and the sounds you make under your breath.
13. In court let your lawyer speak for you and do your best to be quiet.
14. If the judge asks you to speak, speak loud enough so that others can hear you.
15. Do use the words, “Please” and “Thank you”.
16. Answer the question asked of you without digressing.
17. Avoid representing yourself. Children’s Aid cases are so complicated an average individual without any legal training will find it incredibly challenging to navigate through. That is why it is recommended that you hire the services of an experienced lawyer who handles children’s aid cases. The lawyer, Andreas Solomos, has more than 35 years of experience in this legal field.
WHY SOMETIMES GOOD PARENTS LOSE THEIR CHILDREN IN CHILD PROTECTION CASES
WHY SOMETIMES GOOD PARENTS LOSE THEIR CHILDREN IN CHILD PROTECTION CASES
You are the child’s parent. You think you have a particularly good case to get your child back in your custody from the foster home. Your relatives and friends tell you that you can never lose. It has been the experience of this Toronto lawyer representing parents against the Children’s Aid child protection that sometimes parents lose their children due to the following ten main reasons:
Chronic drug or alcohol addictions
If you want your children to return home, you must demonstrate that you can provide for your children’s physical, emotional and psychological needs, that your children are safe in your care and custody and that you can parent your children in an environment that would promote your children’s health and welfare, away from conflict-ridden situations and risks of physical and psychological harm.
How are you going to protect your children in you are unable or unwilling to protect yourself? To turn the tide, you must be willing to,
• Abstain from the use of drugs or alcohol.
• Demonstrate that you can maintain sobriety for a long time.
• Engage in programs that would promote your rehabilitation.
• Disassociate yourself from situations and people that keep you dependant on alcohol or drugs.
• Talk the talk, walk the walk. Simply, you as a parent should support what they say, not just with words, but also through action. Loving your children is not good enough in these situations. If you want your lawyer to fight against the CAS also known as the Children's Aid Society, you would have to do your part.
• Be prepared to experience short term pain for long term gain in having to live a life free of drugs.
• Understand the reasons that trigger your relapses and find ways to recognize and avoid triggering events.
Lack of parenting skills
Not all parents have the skills to handle the challenges of having to raise children. Many parents are single young mothers who struggle with financial and relationship issues. Many parents lack self esteem. The good news is that help is available to help you become a better parent by participating in parenting programs designed to equip you with the necessary parenting skills that you need to:
• Boost Your Child's Self-Esteem
• Learn how to praise your children
• Learn to inspire confidence in your children
• Lean how to avoid toxic words and statements
• Lean how to set limits and be consistent with your discipline
• Lean how to make time for your kids
• Lean how to be a good role model
• Lean how to communicate with your kids and how to make your expectations clear
• Lean how to be flexible and how to adjust your parenting child as the child grows
• Lean of your own needs and limitations as a parent
• Lean how to nurture and encourage your children with unconditional love
• Lean how to be Firm, Fair and Friendly
• Lean how to be effective with co-parenting relationships
Failing to prepare for your CAS case
A good Children’s Aid Lawyer knows how to prepare for your case. Preparation starts the first day you meet with your lawyer. Preparation is a two-way street. You as a parent must also prepare. Preparation is one of the keys to a successfully court outcome. This means meticulous preparation from start to finish- gathering documents, preparing witnesses, organizing your documents, submitting expert reports, complying with the rules of procedure. Knowing what to submit and what to leave out is the key. A good CAS lawyer will know how to guide you with this process.
Confidence is a good thing, but overconfidence can give you a false feeling of security. You should be prepared to accept responsibility for your actions and lean from your past mistakes. Do not assume that your lawyer will take all your burdens off your shoulders once you hire him/her. It is a good thing to be humble with your case and to be a little nervous about it. Being a little anxious will prompt you to do what is necessary to ensure that you improve your chances of success. On the chances of success, a good child protection lawyer will not brag about his/her chances of success and give you a percentage figure. That is misleading! Success in child protection court cases does not depend on probabilities or chances. Every case is so unique that generalizations do not apply. Dynamics shift, circumstances change constantly, and new challenges present new approaches.
Having unreasonable expectations
This may relate to overconfidence but has an aspect on its own. If you expect to get your children back home the first day you appear at court without addressing the safety concerns of the Children’s Aid Society, you create an image of someone who is lacks insight. It is one thing to want to be re-united with your kids and do what it takes to accomplish this objective and another thing to have unrealistic demands that will portray you as an irresponsible parent who lacks self-insight.
Failing to have a theory about your children's aid (CAS) case
You did not go to law school, but you probably learned that every case must have a 'theory', which means you must be prepared to make persuasive arguments about logical and probable reasons that caused a particular situation to exist. A good child welfare lawyer will guide you how to develop a persuasive theory about your situation so that you gain understanding from all the participants and earn their willingness to help you regain custody of your children.
Blaming the wrong person for your parenting mistakes
It is one thing to be vocal with your reasonable expectations with the CAS. It is another thing to shift focus away from your parenting abilities and begin to unload your complaints against the system, the foster home, and the service providers. Remember, the children were removed from your care because of a safety concern. You must be ready to address this concern. Children’s Aid Societies are regulated agencies. They have a responsibility to ensure that children in foster homes are safe. However, unmeritorious accusations of neglect against the CAS will invariably backfire against you.
An experienced child protection lawyer will provide you with proper legal advice on how to tackle your CAS case with the goal of having your file closed and your children remaining in your custody. A good lawyer is not a psychologist or psychiatrist. You must be willing to seek outside help with your issues so that you can demonstrate to the court that your children will be safe in your care. Their general health and welfare are paramount.
Andreas Solomos has 35 years of experience in Family Law, and he is sensitive to emotional and financial costs involved. That is why his personal philosophy centres on finding solutions that are (a) practical and realistic; (b) successful; (c) cost effective; (d) amicable and fair; and (e) lasting.
• Appearances in all Courts: Case Conferences, Settlement Conferences, Motions, and Trials
• Custody and Parenting of Children
• Marriage Contracts
• Separation Agreements
• Cohabitation Agreements
• Legal Research and Opinions
• Settlement Agreements
• International Child Abduction Cases (Hague Convention)
• Mobility Issues; moving to another place (Province or Country)
• Grandparents' Rights
• Child Welfare Cases (CAS); Children in Need of Protection; Parent's Rights
• Child & Spousal Support
• Division of Family Property
This law office accepts legal aid certificates for family law cases. If you are looking for a family legal aid lawyer, give us a call.
We appear in Toronto Courts, Brampton, Durham Region, Newmarket, and other Ontario courts.
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