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What if my partner says they're going to take our child away from me?
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.
Your abusive partner might use threats about your child to try to keep you from leaving. Or, they might make threats after you separate. They might say that they will take your child away from you and not let you see them.
Not everyone follows through on these threats. Sometimes it is just a way to scare and bully you.
In general, the law assumes that it's usually best for a child to spend time with each parent. But there's no rule that says each parent must get to spend equal time with the child.
So you need to tell the court if you have reasonable concerns about your partner’s contact with your child because of past abuse. You should tell the court, for example, if your partner has made threats about taking the child and not returning them to you. Your concerns might get the court to include conditions. For example, the court may order supervised parenting time or order that your partner cannot take your child out of Ontario. Supervised parenting time used to be called supervised access.
Your partner cannot take your child away from you without a good reason. They would have to show a court why it is best for the child not to have any contact with you.
There might be legal steps you can take to stop your partner from taking your child away from you, or to get your child back from your partner if they already have taken them.
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" or "limited scope" 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.