Knowledgeable Family Law Lawyers for Child Guardianship Issues in Calgary

A parent with physical custody of their child is a guardian by right. However, there may come a time when other adults have an interest in seeking guardianship over a child for a variety of reasons. This primarily occurs in situations where the child has been the subject of government intervention and removed from their home, or there is a threat that the child will become subject to government intervention. Often grandparents or extended family will apply to be guardians of a child, or if a child is in foster care the foster parents may apply to be guardians.  Once the Director of Children’s Services has obtained a Temporary or Permanent Guardianship Order under the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act (the “CYFEA”), or the child is otherwise under the guardianship of the Director, the child may be placed in the care of a foster family or a kinship placement. In situations where it is unlikely the child will be returned to their home, the foster parent(s) or kinship placement may choose to seek permanent legal guardianship over the child pursuant to the CFYEA by making an application for a Private Guardianship Order.

Experience and Insight

This process of seeking a Private Guardianship Order can be complex and emotionally charged for everyone involved. At the end of the day, a child has been removed from their parents and the only home environment they’ve ever known and placed in unfamiliar surroundings. Even in cases where a child lacked basic care or safety at home, the change can be traumatizing. A lawyer with a thorough understanding of the Children’s Services system will be invaluable in providing guidance to a person seeking to become a permanent guardian to a child who is under the guardianship of the Director. Lynsey Mincher, one of the founding partners of Mincher Koeman, previously worked as Director’s Counsel with Children’s Services prior to her move to private practice. Since moving into private practice, both Lynsey Mincher and Andrew Koeman have taken on many cases challenging the legal basis for child apprehension applications. Their experience affords them a unique knowledge of a complex system and enables our firm to advise clients with an insight into the child intervention process few other family law firms in Calgary can provide.

What is Involved in the Application for a Private Guardianship Order under the Child Youth and Family Enhancement Act?

The CYFEA sets out the required components of an application for a Private Guardianship Order (as opposed to a Guardianship Order which is granted under the Family Law Act) as follows:

  • A statement that the child was in the continuous care of the applicant for at least three months prior to the application (this requirement may be waived if it would serve the best interests of the child to do so);
  • A statement that the applicant is willing and able to serve as the child’s permanent guardian;
  • A finding that the guardianship is in the best interests of the child;
  • A home study report demonstrating the suitability, ability and willingness of the applicant to be the child’s permanent guardian. Note that in cases where the child is the subject of a Permanent Guardianship Order, this report will be completed by the Director.

In cases involving an Indigenous child, this process is largely the same, however, there are additional requirements that must be satisfied to address the specific and unique cultural needs of Indigenous children.

If the child is over 12 years old, the court will seek their consent prior to approving a Private Guardianship Order application, however, if consent is not given, the court can approve the application if it is deemed to be in the child’s best interests.

Financial Compensation for Guardians Granted a Private Guardianship Order

In certain cases, a Private Guardian may be entitled to receive financial assistance from the Director as follows:

  • The basic maintenance rate for a child in foster care;
  • Costs for counselling, treatment and additional services that may be required if the child displays behavioural or emotional problems; and
  • The cost of parental respite care services (a maximum of 576 hours of care annually per family).

Note that in order to be granted financial assistance, the Director may require the private guardian to demonstrate that, without it, their role as guardian would place an excessive burden on his or her financial resources.

Empathy and Experience in Private Guardianship Order Applications in Calgary

At Mincher Koeman, our family lawyers have considerable knowledge of Alberta Children’s Services, it’s policies, practices and procedures and as such we will provide insightful and accurate advice to any person seeking a Private Guardianship Order under the CFYEA. We have a deep sense of empathy for children who have been removed from their homes and will prioritize their best interests in all cases, working to assist with applications for a Private Guardianship Order that will help to set the child on a better and healthier path. Please contact our office to make an appointment to discuss your matter with one of our lawyers today by calling us at 403-910-3000 or by contacting us online.

A team above all. Above all a team.

Calgary Office

707 7 Ave SW #1300,
Calgary, AB T2P 3H6

Canmore Office

621 10 St #101
Canmore, AB T1W 2A2

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