Access/Visitation Enforcement by Police in Ontario
In Ontario, the Children's Law Reform Act, section 36, deals with access being enforced.
The following is the position of the Peel Regional Police Services. The Region of Peel has a population of approximately 900,000 people and is a suburb of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
In situations where the Peel Regional Police receive a court order that states " The Peel Regional Police are ordered to enforce the access provisions of this court order." their role is to attend at the change over location/residence to keep the peace only. They have no other role. It is the police opinion that it is an order made under Section 36(1) of The Children's Law Reform Act.
The Peel Regional Police may receive a court order that states " The Peel Regional Police are ordered to locate, apprehend and deliver the child, John Doe jr. to John Doe (the non-custodial parent) in accordance with this order. An entry or a search shall be made at any time of the day or night. This apprehension order expires 1 year from the date this order was made." With this order, the police have a duty to act (section 36.4) and shall do all things reasonably able to locate, apprehend and deliver the child in accordance with the order(section 36.4)
Note that the order apprehension order must have an expiry date (section 36.7) and possibly extended hours (section 36.6)
Other police forces may have different requirements. Many police officers are not aware of these laws.
The Children's Law Reform Act states that an apprehension order under section 36.2 is to be ordered "Where a court is satisfied upon application that any person is unlawfully withholding a child from a person entitled to custody of or access to the child."
In most cases, judges will not grant a non-custodial parent an apprehension order although the Children's Law Reform Act requires it. Many of our members report that judges and family law lawyers they have witnessed in court do not know what wording to put in a court order to enable the police to apprehend the child.
The F.A.C.T. Law Manual has this information and more including a memorandum from the Assistant Deputy Minister, Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General, to all chiefs of police and the Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police on the subject: The Role of the Police in The Enforcement of Custody and Access Orders. This memo further outlines the police position and responsibilities.
The F.A.C.T. Law Manual is sold at a very reasonable price to F.A.C.T. members only.
In Hamilton, Ontario, the Hamilton/Wentworth Regional Police service a population of nearly a million people, have taken a non-custodial father to court and stated that enforcement of court orders for access are a waste of police resources. They refused to state to the judge what exact wording they would require in a court order in order to act on such an order made by the court. The judge stated that the order complied with the law, was complete and met all the criteria of the law in order to have the police act. The complete hearing was covered by The Hamilton Spectator and numerous TV stations. This is the case of Wayne Allen. Press here to read the Wayne Allen's pleadings. It and all testimony are available for downloading, email us. Wayne Allen is one of 2 men in the last 20 years that have sent a custodial parent to prison for contempt of a court order by cutting off court ordered access. Wayne has gone to court 60 times so far. Incredible. The other father was Richard Dadd of Mississauga. It is interesting to note that both men represented themselves in court. The judgement in the Wayne Allen Case can be read, click here.
Read The Hamilton Spectator articles " Fifty dads lend support to child-access fight " and " Police told to enforce court orders."
Why do non-custodial parents have to go back to court at all to have access enforced. In many U.S. states access denial (visitation interference) is a crime against society, a form of child abuse. Court orders should be obeyed. It is abuse of a non-custodial parent to have to pay to have a lawful access order enforced. In Illinoi, the Illinois Unlawful Visitation Interference Law, states that police shall charge the parent and on a 3rd offence a judge can put the offender in jail.
Contact your lawyer for legal advice and the exact wording applicable to your case.