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What if I'm worried about my child's safety when they're with my partner?
As of March 1, 2021, the term custody has changed to decision-making responsibility. And in most situations, the term access has changed to parenting time. Now, all parents usually have parenting time.
Also, a person who isn't a parent or step-parent may get a contact order to spend time with a child. For example a grandparent can get this order.
You might be worried about your child being alone with your abusive partner after you separate. Most children are affected when one parent is abusive to another parent, even if they are not directly abused themselves.
What you do to make sure your child is as safe as possible depends on why you are worried about their safety.
You might be worried because:
- Some abusive partners are abusive to everyone in the family. They might have physically or emotionally harmed your child.
- Your child might have seen your partner abusing you and might be afraid to spend time alone with your partner.
- Some abusive partners have not spent a lot of time caring for their children. You might be worried that your partner does not know how to take care of your child when you are not there.
- Your partner might have threatened to hurt your child if you leave the relationship.
- Your partner might have threatened to take your child away from you and not bring them back. This might include threats to take your child out of the country.
Talk to a lawyer
You can talk to a lawyer who can tell you how you may be able to protect your child.
If you can't afford to hire a lawyer for everything, some lawyers provide "unbundled services" or "limited scope retainer" services. This means you pay them to help you with only certain things, like getting a restraining order or drafting a court document.
If you have experienced family violence and need immediate legal help, you might be able to get 2 hours of free advice from a lawyer. This service is offered through some women's shelters, community legal clinics, and Family Law Service Centres. Or you can call Legal Aid Ontario toll-free at 1-800-668-8258 to find out more.
If you have experienced sexual abuse and live in Toronto, Ottawa, or Thunder Bay, you might be able to get 4 hours of free advice from a lawyer. You have to complete a voucher request form. Or you can call the Independent Legal Advice for Sexual Assault Survivors Pilot Program at 1-855-226-3904 to find out more.