Court orders & hearings

Image
Inuit woman and her child.
Court orders and hearings

Sometimes the child protection process can lead to hearings in court and court orders.

If a social worker contacts you or visits your home, you have the right to get legal advice. If the social worker has very serious concerns, they might take your child from your home. Call Legal Aid BC immediately to find out if you qualify for a free lawyer.

What can I do if the ministry is investigating me?

What can I do if the ministry is investigating me?
True
False

You have the right to get legal advice if a social worker from the ministry or a delegated Aboriginal agency:

  • contacts you or visits your home to ask questions about your family
  • threatens to take your children away
  • takes your children away

Call Legal Aid BC

Child protection matters are covered by legal aid. Call Legal Aid BC immediately to find out if you qualify for a free lawyer. If you don't qualify for a lawyer, other free legal aid resources are available to you.

Ask for support

You can ask for support from your Aboriginal community throughout the child protection process:

  • If the ministry is investigating you and a delegated Aboriginal agency represents your band or Aboriginal community, you can ask the ministry to tell the delegated Aboriginal agency about the investigation.
  • Whether the ministry or a delegated Aboriginal agency is investigating you, you can ask for a representative from your band or friendship centre. They'll support you during the investigation. The representative can help your child stay connected to their Aboriginal family and community.

Ask for a mediator

A mediator can help you work with the ministry. A mediator is a professional who's specially trained to:

  • not take sides
  • help people reach an agreement
  • help people work out conflicts

You can ask for a mediator as soon as the social worker contacts you. You can also ask at any time during the child protection process.

Mediation is free for families who are involved with the ministry. Mediators can travel to remote communities.

Court process

Court process
True
False

This section has limited information about the court process for child protection cases. For more information, see Court process on the Family Law in BC website.

Presentation hearing

The presentation hearing is the first time you go to court in a child protection case.

The ministry or delegated Aboriginal agency must notify your child's Aboriginal organization of the presentation hearing, if practical.

  • If the social workers takes your child from your home, the presentation hearing must start within seven days.
  • An access order says when you can visit your child. If the ministry takes your child from your home, you can apply for access. Apply for access as soon as you can.
  • If the social worker applies for a supervision order without removal, the presentation hearing must start within 10 days.
Report to Court

When you go to court, your social worker must give you a copy of the Report to Court. This document should say:

  • why the ministry removed your child from your home or asked for a supervision order
  • what the ministry tried doing before that
  • what the ministry wants to do next

The judge asks if you agree with what the ministry wants to do.

  • If you agree with what the ministry asks for, the judge can make an order right away.
  • If you want to apply for legal aid or want more time, the judge might reschedule the hearing.
  • If you don't agree with what the ministry asks for, the judge can schedule a full hearing to learn more about your case.
Interim orders

At the presentation hearing, the judge can make interim orders. Interim supervision orders have conditions (rules) of supervision and terms (length of time). Make sure you ask the social worker what happens if you don't agree to all of the supervision conditions.

No supervision order (your child stays with you)
  • The judge can decide a supervision order isn't needed. If that happens, the court process ends for you and your child.
Interim supervision order (your child stays with you)
  • Your child lives with you, with the ministry's supervision or delegated Aboriginal agency’s supervision. The order includes the supervision conditions you must follow.
Interim supervision order (your child stays with someone else)
  • Your child lives with another person (a family member or friend with the ministry's supervision or delegated Aboriginal agency’s supervision. The order says how your child will be cared for, and can also mention your access visits.
Interim custody order (your child is placed in foster care)
  • Your child must stay in foster care for a certain amount of time. The order can also mention your access visits.

Protection hearing

At a protection hearing, the judge decides who'll care for your child for a longer time period.

The ministry or delegated Aboriginal agency must notify your child's Aboriginal organization of the presentation hearing.

  • The protection hearing follows the presentation hearing.
  • The protection hearing must start no later than 45 days after the presentation hearing ends.

If you and the ministry agree about how your child should be cared for, the judge may make a consent order. The judge doesn’t have to decide your child needs protection, and you won't have to have a full protection hearing. The consent order lasts for a specific amount of time.

Temporary orders

At the protection hearing, the judge can make a temporary order for your child’s care. Or the judge can make a continuing custody order for your child’s care.

Temporary supervision order (your child stays with you)
  • Your child lives with you, with the ministry’s supervision. The order includes supervision terms you must follow. Once the temporary order is in place, the social worker can apply to extend it.
Temporary supervision order (your child stays with someone else)
  • Your child lives with another person (a family member or friend), with the ministry's supervision. The order says how your child will be cared for, and can also mention your access visits. Once the temporary order is in place, the social worker can apply to extend it.
Temporary custody order (your child is placed in foster care)
  • Your child must stay in foster care for a certain length of time. The order can also mention your access visits. Once the temporary order is in place, the social worker can apply to extend it.
Continuing custody order (your child is placed in foster care for an indefinite time)
  • Your child stays in foster care without any limits on how long. A judge usually makes this order only if a serious problem can't be fixed.
Get help

Native Courtworker and Counselling Association of BC — Culturally appropriate services to Aboriginal people involved in the criminal justice system

Access Pro Bono Law Clinics — Free legal help

Legal Aid BC — Legal information, advice, and representation services for people with low incomes

See more

See more
True
True

Attorney General — Child Protection Mediation Program

Mediate BC — Has a list of child protection mediators in BC

BC211 — Free confidential referrals to help and information — Call 211

PovNet — Information about poverty issues and links to organizations that can help

BC Association of Friendship Centres — Find a friendship centre in your area

Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation — See their Guide to Indigenous Organizations and Services in British Columbia for organizations that can help

Aboriginal community legal workers — Give legal information and limited advice services

Lawyer Referral Service — Helps you find a lawyer to take your case — Call 604-687-3221 (Greater Vancouver) or 1-800-663-1919 (elsewhere in BC)

Legal information outreach workers — Give legal information and provide referrals

Carole James, MLA, Community Office — Free legal clinic, including family matters — Call 250-412-7794

Family duty counsel — Free legal advice on family matters — Kwadacha and Tsay Key Dene — Call 1-877-601-6066

Family duty counsel — Free legal advice on child protection matters — Williams Lake — Call778-395-6200

First Nations and Métis Outreach Program (The Law Centre, University of Victoria) — Free legal help, including family matters — Victoria

Bella Coola Legal Advocacy Program — Legal advocacy on a issues, including child protection — Bella Coola

UBC Indigenous Community Legal Clinic — Free legal help on various legal matters — 604-684-7334 (Greater Vancouver) or 1-888-684-7334 (elsewhere in BC)

Upper Skeena Counselling & Legal Assistance Society — Help with family matters — Hazelton

Victoria Native Friendship Centre — Free legal clinic, including family matters — Call 250-412-7794