What happens at a child protection hearing or trial?

3. Understand how the judge makes their decision

The judge decides your case based on the evidence, what the witnesses said, and the law.    

There are 2 stages to a child protection hearing.

First stage

The first stage is sometimes called the “finding” stage. CAS must prove that your child is a .

Sometimes CAS and you may have made an agreement, or the court may have already found that your child is in need of protection. If there's an agreement or court finding, the court skips the first stage.

If there's no agreement or court finding, the court needs to decide whether your child is in need of protection.

If the court does not find that your child is in need of protection, the case ends. Your child is returned to you or whoever had of your child before CAS started their .

If the judge decides that your child is in need of protection, the hearing moves on to the second stage, also called the “disposition stage”.

Second stage

At this stage, the court decides what type of order to make. The court must decide what would be in the “”. This means the judge has to take into account:

  • your child's views, if they can say how they feel
  • that it's important to keep your child's identity and connection to their community and culture if your child is First Nations, Inuk, or Métis, even if they are not an official member of the community
  • anything else that the judge thinks is important, for example:
    • the child's physical, mental, and emotional needs and the best way to take care of those needs
    • the child's culture and language
    • the child's race, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, family diversity, sex, and sexual orientation
    • how changing your child's care will affect them
    • how CAS' plan compares to your plan
    • how your child may suffer if they were taken away from, kept away from, returned to, or allowed to stay in your care

Anything you can tell the judge about these things will help them decide.

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