32 Office of the Children’s Lawyer

Office of the Children’s Lawyer

The Office of the Children’s Lawyer (OCL) is a department within the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General. The Ministry of the Attorney General is responsible for organizing legal services for every ministry within the provincial government. Specifically, the OCL was formed to protect the rights of minors, unborn to eighteen (18) years of age, during the process of administering justice in legal proceedings (Attorney General of Ontario, n.d.).

The OCL is predominantly involved in matters related to family and estate law. Family law involves all legal issues that can be dealt with in family court, these include divorce, separation, child custody or access (Ministry of the Attorney General – Family Law, n.d.). Estate law typically covers transfer of assets (Ministry of the Attorney General – Estate Law, n.d.).

The OCL offers services, such as, representing a minor in legal proceedings or writing reports to assist with court proceedings. The OCL employs both lawyers and social workers to collectively assist individuals with legal matters. While lawyers assist with the advocacy process, social workers support the lawyers by compiling files and documentation. However, since the is operated under the by-laws set forth by the Provincial Government, they have the authority to accept or reject cases. These cases may be rejected if the child does not reside within the province of Ontario, or an investigation is being conducted by the Children’s Aid Society (CAS). A full list of reasons that cases may be rejected upon can be found at Steps of Justice – Office of the Children’s Lawyer.

Matters for the Office of the Children’s Lawyer

The OCL is not involved in cases unless a motion is made to the judge presiding over a family or estate matter. The responsibilities of the OCL starts and ends with specific particular court proceedings.  It must be noted that the OCL does not represent minors in criminal or quasi-criminal matters. Additionally, in civil cases a minor is not able to start a proceeding without the support of a litigation guardian. Therefore, a member of the OCL can stand in as a litigation guardian for a minor if no other adult is able to do so. A litigation guardian is defined as, “A guardian appointed to assist an infant or other mentally incapable defendant or plaintiff, or any such incapacitated person, that may be a party in a legal action, and to direct that litigation in the best interests of the incapable person” (Duhaime Law Dictionary, n.d.). While both the CAS and the OCL look after the interest of minors, each has its own specific tasks and work independently of each other.

Domestic Violence Matters

When considering domestic violence or abuse, the OCL “…must consider whether the custody and access arrangements might create or increase risk of harm to the children” (OWJN, 2015). It is the responsibility of the OCL to gather relevant information and opinions about the matter; and thereafter, evaluate the best solution for each party involved.


For all other information on OCL visit the website for the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General at Ministry of the Attorney General – Office of the Children’s Lawyer .



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Domestic Violence in Immigrant Communities: Case Studies Copyright © 2020 by Ferzana Chaze, Bethany Osborne, Archana Medhekar and Purmina George is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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