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What is a temporary care and custody hearing in my child protection case?
A temporary care and custody hearing is an important step in a child protection case. It's usually the first chance you get to tell the court what you want and why you should get your child back, or why the Children's Aid Society (CAS) shouldn't be involved.
A judge reviews the written evidence and listens to what everyone involved in the case has to say. They then decide what happens to your child, while your case is going on.
A temporary care and custody hearing is supposed to take place within 35 days of CAS starting their court case. Sometimes, a court gives more time.
If you think CAS shouldn't have taken your child and your child will be safe in your home, ask for a temporary care and custody hearing as quickly as possible.
Before your hearing, talk to a lawyer who has worked on child protection cases. They can give you advice about what might happen at the hearing and 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 services" or "limited scope retainer" 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. You don't need a lawyer to go to court or reply to CAS, but it's best to get one.