The removal of a child from the family home due to allegations of abuse or neglect is a particularly difficult and stressful situation for any family, and particularly for the child. If the Director of Children’s Services has made a determination that a child should be removed from their home, timing becomes very important. Parents must act quickly and seek the advice of an experienced lawyer in order to review next steps.
At Mincher Koeman, we have extensive experience working with clients throughout the entire child protection and apprehension process. Our opinions and counsel are often sought by other family lawyers in Alberta, and we have also provided opinions for court matters in the UK with respect to the impact these proceedings can have on children.
Lynsey Mincher, one of the firm’s founding partners, previously worked as Director’s Counsel with Children’s Services before her move to private practice. Her experience there affords her unique knowledge of a complex system and allows the lawyers at the firm to advise clients with an insight into the process that few other private family law firms in Calgary can provide.
The Director of Children’s Services has authority pursuant to section 19 of the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act (CYFEA), to apprehend, or take a child from their home and into the care of the Province of Alberta if they have reasonable and probable grounds to believe the child is in need of intervention. This authority is then delegated or passed on to caseworkers.
The CYFEA sets out reasons for children being in need of intervention, including:
The Director is not required to give notice that they are applying for an Apprehension Order. The Director obtains an Order from the Provincial Court of Alberta to remove the child from their home and place the child into foster care. The Director then serves a copy of the Order on the child’s guardians together with a Notice of the date the guardians must appear in court to oppose the apprehension. The guardians must be given two days’ notice of the court date.
After that initial court date, the Director must either return the child to their home or proceed with an Initial Custody Application, which will grant the Director interim custody over the child while further assessments and determinations are made with respect to the child and their guardians or parents. Parents can choose to oppose this application, in which case a date will be set for the Initial Custody Hearing, which must take be heard within 42 days of the first court date.
If your child has been apprehended, there are strict timelines at play, and you should seek immediate legal advice. Mincher Koeman can help. Our lawyers have the experience necessary to assist you throughout this process and will work to protect your rights and the rights of your child. Please contact our office to discuss your options by calling us at 403-910-3000 or by contacting us online.
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