An Initial Custody Hearing is the first opportunity parents have to challenge the Director of Child and Family Services (Director) evidence surrounding the apprehension of their child. This hearing is heard 42 days after a child is apprehended. The Director will have their own lawyer and will be prepared for this hearing. What do you need to do?
This is a summary hearing, meaning that the hearing will only take approximately an hour to two hours maximum. It is not the time to fully test the Director’s case, this is the time to challenge the Directors concerns that your child is at risk (in need of intervention) and argue they can be returned home safely.
Why is this hearing so important? It is your only chance to request the return of your child(ren) until the matter is set for trial. Currently the Provincial Court is booking trials at least 5-6 months away.
The court has two choices at the hearing-
- Keep your child in care; or
- Return the Child to a Guardian.
It is important to prepare to ensure the best evidence is before the court, as the hearing will be very short:
- Get a lawyer as you will be able to cross-examine the witnesses.
- Compile a list of professionals and third-parties who work with your family. List their names, addresses and contact number as your lawyer may want to call them.
- Speak to a lawyer about calling witnesses (you may need subpoenas) or obtaining witness statement/ affidavits from witnesses.
- List people your children could stay with if not with you the choose close family and friends.
- Prepare a safety plan. If you do not know what this is speak to a lawyer, they will be happy to assist.
- Does the child have a guardian who is appropriate who has not been contacted?
If you are dealing with a child welfare matter, Mincher Koeman are experienced in dealing with all types of Child Protection cases. Contact Mincher Koeman at 403 910 3000 or firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for an appointment.