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What happens at a child protection hearing or trial?
A child protection hearing is when you and a Children's Aid Society (CAS) present your case in court to ask for a final decision on the protection application CAS made.
A child protection hearing can be a:
At a trial, the court makes a final decision after hearing the evidence from you and CAS. See Steps 1 to 3.
A child protection hearing or trial has 2 stages. First, CAS must prove that your child is a child in need of protection. If CAS proves this, the case moves to the second stage when the court decides what order to make in the best interests of the child. This is called "disposition". See Step 4.
Motion for summary judgment
A motion for summary judgment is where one party asks the court to make a final decision, usually based only on written evidence. The party does this because they think their case is strong enough to get what they're asking for without going to trial.
A default hearing is when the court makes a final decision even though one party didn't give evidence. This can happen, for example, if one parent didn't respond in time to the court papers they got from CAS.
Talk to a lawyer
You should talk to a lawyer who has worked on child protection cases. They can give you advice about what happens at a hearing and can help you through the process.
The Ontario Association of Child Protection Lawyers has a list of members. These are lawyers who focus on child protection cases.
You can apply for a legal aid certificate to get Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) to pay for your lawyer. Your income must be low enough for you to qualify.
If you can't afford to hire a lawyer for your whole case, some lawyers offer "unbundled" or "limited scope" services. This means you pay them to help you with part of your case.
If you can't afford to hire a lawyer at all, you might be able to find legal help in other places.
Find out your rights if you need an interpreter or have needs related to a disability
If you or any of your witnesses need an interpreter, you can ask the court for one at any stage in the court process.
If you or any of your witnesses need an arrangement because of a disability, speak with any staff member at court about what you need. For example, you may not be able to hear well. You can also contact the Accessibility Coordinator at the court where your case is being held.
More information on accessibility at Ontario's courts is available on the Ministry of the Attorney General's website.
Also, if you speak French, you have the right to ask that your case take place in French.