What is alternative dispute resolution in a child protection case?
Question & AnswerWhat is alternative dispute resolution in a child protection case?
1. Decide if you should try ADR
There are many reasons why people choose to try (ADR). For example, they may prefer ADR over going to court because it can be:
- less stressful
- more private
There are also reasons why people don't want to try ADR. For example, it might delay the process and keep your child away from you for longer.
ADR works well for certain types of child protection cases. For example, ADR may help if a (CAS) and you are trying to agree on:
- where your child is placed – how far they are from home or if it's suitable for your child
- terms of supervision that are practical and work for your family
- a detailed plan if your child is in CAS care
- whether it's possible for your child to return home, if your child is in CAS care
- whether it's possible for your child to be cared for by extended family, instead of by CAS
- an openness order after your child is adopted
ADR can also be very useful in cases where CAS is working with your family because of conflict between you and your teenage child, or because of conflict between you and your children's other parent.
ADR tends not to help when CAS and you don't agree on whether your child is in need of protection. It also doesn't help if, for example:
- there is an ongoing criminal case against you related to child protection issues
- you have a serious addiction or substance abuse problem
- you have emotional or psychiatric issues that don't allow you to fully take part in ADR
Talk to a lawyer
You don't need a lawyer to agree to try ADR with a CAS. But if you decide to try ADR, it's a good idea to get your own legal advice before you sign an agreement to take part in ADR. It's also a good idea to get legal advice before you sign any agreement that you reached in ADR.
You can talk to a lawyer who can help you understand what it means to agree to ADR.
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, you might be able to find legal help in other places.