During and following a divorce, one parent might have concerns about how the other cares for children of the marriage while in his or her care. Such concern might be increased by the presence of abuse before the divorce or extreme emotions and contention during the divorce process. Concerns sometimes result in reports to Ontario’s Ministry of Children and Youth Services.
When reports occur, a family-based investigation is often the next step. The ministry follows investigation steps for these matters that usually begin with interviewing the child involved in the matter. The child is interviewed face-to-face, and investigators use communication methods that are appropriate for the age of the child and his or her communication abilities.
Next, interviews are usually conducted with other children in the home and with the caregiver who has not been accused of abuse. The investigator will also observe the home life of the child, and he or she will review the entire home if any information in a report to the ministry indicates the possibility of hazards or danger in the home.
The person who allegedly abused or neglected children involved in an investigation is also interviewed, and the investigator tries to arrange observation between children involved in a case an their caregivers. The investigator might also interview any witnesses relevant to the matter.
Finally, the investigator will use tools and screenings to assess the risk of children in the home or environment being investigated. He or she will also obtain information releases and other legal documents necessary for the case and will provide information about what next steps should be taken.
Investigations of this type can be frightening whether you are the parent who suspects abuse or the person suspected of abuse. Understanding your rights in such a very serious family law situation can help you protect yourself and your children.
Source: Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services, “Child Protection Standards in Ontario,” accessed Dec. 09, 2015