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Digest of the Week - Representation of Child

Office of the Children's Lawyer v. Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto | 2020 ONSC 4310 | Ontario Superior Court of Justice

Family law --- Child protection — Practice and procedure — Representation of child

Trial judge made final order on terms of consent of parents and children's aid society that child would return to care of parents without status review at end of interim society care order — Office of children's lawyer requested that trial judge provide written reasons to explain why she was prepared to accept consent mid-trial when child, who had rights as party, was opposed to order — Reasons were not provided — Office of children's lawyer brought motion to admit fresh evidence on appeal and appealed order — Appeal allowed — Trial judge erred in law making final order before competition of trial when child opposed order — Section 79(6) of Child Youth and Family Services Act entitled child, who had legal representation in proceeding, to participate in proceeding as if he were party — Appointing office of children's law as child's counsel specifically confirmed office of children's lawyer had full power to act as though child was party to proceeding — Trial judge did not provide reasons for decision — Detailed review of transcripts did not provide any explanation for decision — Trial judge referred to gaping hole in evidence created by expert's inability to testify and stated that she needed better understanding of why child did not want to return home but without explanation, trial judge made order that would automatically return child home without status review.
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