Sadly there are circumstances where a parent is unable to provide proper care for their child or children. At that point, a non-parent may be asked to step in. For this to happen, the non-parent must apply to the Court system and be issued an Order of custody or access.

What is Child Custody?

Custody is the right and responsibility to make decisions for the child. Access is the ability of the non-custodial parent to have time with the child. These are two separate items and must be addressed as such.

Under the Children’s Law Reform Act, a parent is identified as:

• Biological parent
• Birthparent
• Person whose sperm resulted in conception through sexual intercourse
• Adoptive parent
• A person declared under the law to be a parent
• An individual presumed to be the father of the child.

Anyone not falling under one of these items is a non-parent. That includes siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, or someone not related to the child.

What is taken into consideration in this process?

When the Court issues the Order, it will take under consideration many issues and conditions, including:
• The emotional connection between the individual and the child.
This includes others who will be involved in the child’s upbringing.
• The opinion and feelings of the child
• Length of time the child has lived in a stable home
• The ability of the Applicant to provide the necessary basic elements of care like food and shelter, as well as ancillary needs like guidance, education.
In some cases, it is necessary to provide extraordinary care for those children with special needs.
• The Applicant must submit a plan of care.
• A stable residence
• Applicant’s abilities to provide parental duties
• Any familial relationship.

Also, the Court may appoint a third party to investigate the needs and abilities and report back to the Court.

Applying for an Order

With all of this in mind, if you are interested in applying for an Order, here is what needs to happen.
• Initiate the application by completing Form 8.
• Completing Form 35.1, which must accompany the Application form. This is an Affidavit that will have all the information about the plan of care, the Applicant’s previous involvement with other custody issues and any other relevant facts for the judge to consider.
• The Applicant should complete and file a Consent Form for Police Record Check for Non-parent Custody. This will allow the police to investigate any criminal background of the Applicant.
• Complete a Children’s Aid Society Report on Records. This is another form that will allow research into any other issues the Applicant might need to disclose.

Seeking legal advice

If you are a person who is thinking of applying for non-parental custody, contact an attorney who specializes in child custody cases. AGB Lawyers offers assistance in different types of family law processes and can advise you on your qualifications and help you through all the paperwork and steps necessary to complete the process. Contact them to talk to one of their Ottawa Family Lawyers.