Custody and Access Reports by the Office of the Children’s Lawyer

The Office of the Children’s Lawyer (the “OCL”) is a government office that provides legal services on behalf of children in areas of custody and access issues. The OCL is usually involved in custody and access cases when a court requires independent evidence about the best interests of the child for parenting disputes.

The OCL will get involved by conducting an investigation and preparing a report for court. However, it is important to note that the OCL does not decide what is in the child’s best interest. The OCL makes recommendations and it is ultimately up to the court to make the decision on which parenting arrangement is in the child’s best interest.

The process for conducting an investigation and report by the OCL begins by a court making an Order requesting that the OCL become involved. If the OCL accepts the request of the court, the OCL will then assign a clinician to the case and notify the parties of their involvement and begin the process.

The clinical investigation by the OCL involves gathering information about the children from relevant people in their lives and making observations of how the children interact in their normal day to day routine. The clinician assigned will meet with the parents, the children, collateral sources such as teachers, and may also speak with friends or other family members.

The clinician will first meet with the parents privately, either at the clinician’s office or at the parent’s home. The duration and number of meetings is at the discretion of the clinician. The purpose of these meetings is to ensure that each parent has a full and fair chance to speak with the clinician and for the clinician to understand each parent’s perspective.

After the parents have been interviewed the clinician will then conduct observation visits. Observation visits allow the clinician to observe the children interact with each parent in the parent’s home. These visits will usually last 90 minutes but may be longer and additional observation visits are in the discretion of the clinician. The clinician will typically ask the parent and children to engage in a regular family activity.

The clinician will also interview the children. This occurs separately from the parents. The purpose of this interview is for the clinician to understand the children. However, it is important to note that the clinician does not ask the children who they want to live with.

It can typically take three to six months for the OCL to complete their investigation. However, this is only a general timeline and depending on circumstances it can take longer. Once the investigation is completed, the OCL will file their report with the court.

For more information about obtaining a divorce, please contact our Toronto divorce lawyer here.

NOTICE AND DISCLAIMER: The material posted on this website is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please consult with a family lawyer

Other Articles to Read
General Steps in Obtaining a Divorce
How to get a quick and cheap divorce in Ontario

Helpful Resources:

Divorce and Separation
Family Justice Services
Child Custody and Access
Child Support
Division or Equalization of Family Property
Treatment of a Matrimonial Home
Enforcement of Support Payments
Child Protection
Child Adoption