What is a temporary care and custody hearing in my child protection case?
1. Collect documents and information
It's important to see what the (CAS) has in their file, so that you know what information they may use during your court case. This will help you and your lawyer know how to respond in court to the concerns CAS has.
You have the right to get a copy of almost everything in the CAS on you and your child. This is called “disclosure“.
You should ask for full disclosure of the CAS file in writing. CAS must share this information with you if you ask for it.
You can ask for disclosure more than once. You can send a letter to CAS or speak to your worker and ask for disclosure regularly.
CAS doesn't have to give you copies of documents that are privileged. For example, documents from a CAS lawyer to a CAS worker that contain legal advice. This means you don't get to see or get a copy of those documents.
But CAS must give you all documents that are not privileged. This includes things like case notes and reports about your child. It has to do this even if it doesn't plan to use the report in court or if the report doesn't help its case.
Examination for discovery
If there's anything in your file that you don't understand, that hasn't been explained, or that's been left out, you have the right to ask the worker about it, before you go to court.
At an examination for discovery, you ask questions at a court reporter's office. There's no judge and you don't need a lawyer. The person being questioned promises to tell the truth, and all questions and answers are recorded. This is called “questioning” or “examination for discovery“.
You, your lawyer, or any other in the case can question CAS. For example, this could include your child's other parent.
Other people involved in the case might also be questioned. They might agree to be questioned or you can ask the court to order that they are questioned. For example, you can ask to question:
- your child's grandparent or family member
- a professional who might be a in the case, for example, a doctor, or school teacher
After questioning, you can order the transcript to use it as evidence in court. The transcript is a written record of what was said. You have to pay a fee to get the transcript. It costs at least $4.30 per page for a copy.
An examination of discovery is expensive. Many child protection cases don't have an examination of discovery.