When a Children’s Aid Society believes that a parent has abused or neglected their child and the child needs the court’s protection, the agency will file an application. To respond to this application and to preserve custody or visitation rights, a parent will need to file an Answer and Plan of Care.
What Is an Answer and Plan of Care?
An Answer and Plan of Care is a form that you must fill out to address concerns that are raised in a protection application filed by a Children’s Aid Society. An Answer and Plan of Care shows the court that you have the intention and capacity to properly care for your child. An Answer and Plan of Care is divided into five parts:
- In Part 1, you must provide biographical information about your child or children who are the subject of the protection application.
- In Part 2, you can respond to the factual allegations made by CAS in support of their protective application. Each allegation in the protective application will be listed by number, and you must state which paragraphs you agree with, which paragraphs you agree with in part and the parts you agree with, and which paragraphs you don’t agree with.
- Part 3 is only used if the case is a status review, which occurs after a court order is issued at a child protection hearing or prior status review.
- Part 4 is the most important part of the Answer and Plan of Care, in which you detail your plan of care, how your plan serves your child’s best interests, and identifies the people and organizations who will help you carry out your plan. You should include details such as where you and/or your child will live and where your child will go to school or daycare, what support services you are receiving or what services you want (including from CAS), what sources of income or financial support you will have, and what childcare arrangements you have while you work or attend school.
- In Part 5, you must describe what result you are asking the court for, such as having your child returned to your custody, having visitation with your child while they are in someone else’s custody, or whether you want a specific person to have custody. You can also specify alternative preferences if the court does not approve your first choice.
Do I Need an Answer and Plan of Care?
You don’t have to prepare and file an Answer and Plan of Care if you agree with everything that Children’s Aid Society is asking for in its protective application. However, the court may look at you favorably if you do fill out an Answer and Plan of Care in which you acknowledge that you agree with all the steps and actions that CAS is asking the court for.
However, if you prefer something different from what CAS has proposed in the protective application, you will need to request it by filing an Answer and Plan of Care. If you disagree with CAS’s protective application and fail to timely file an Answer and Plan of Care, you may be subject to serious consequences, including:
- Not receiving notice of actions taken in the case
- Being excluded from taking part in court proceedings
- Having the court decide the case without your participation, even if a trial is held
What Is the Deadline for Filing an Answer and Plan of Care?
Once you receive a copy of a Children’s Aid Society’s protective application that has been filed with the court, you generally have 30 days to complete, file, and serve your Answer and Plan of Care. However, if you reside and were served outside Canada or the United States, you have 60 days to file. Depending on what day you were served with the protective application and when weekends or holidays fall, you may have an extra day or two to file your Answer and Plan of Care. Your lawyer or the court clerk can advise you as to the deadline for filing an Answer and Plan of Care in your case.
How We Can Help
If you have been served with a protective application by a Children’s Aid Society, get the legal help you need to advocate for your interests. Contact Carmichael Family Lawyers for an initial consultation to speak with an Oshawa, ON family lawyer about your case. Call us today at 905-571-5123.