Understanding the Vital Role of the Office of the Children’s Lawyer (OCL)

Written by Co-Op Student, Zaima Ahmed

In the area of family law, the Office of the Children’s Lawyer (OCL) acts in the best interest of children. They ensure that children’s rights and happiness are taken into account throughout judicial proceedings. This blog aims to make their work easier to grasp. We’ll explain when, how, and why they get involved so that everyone understands. 

1. When Do They Get Involved?

When children are involved in legal conflicts, such as custody battles, or child protection issues, the OCL steps in. Consider a circumstance in which the parents are divorcing and disagree over who the child should live with. In such circumstances, the OCL can intervene to ensure that the child’s best interests are protected. They act as a voice for the child, assisting parents and the court in understanding what a child requires and desires. This involvement ensures that the child’s well-being is prioritized amid difficult legal issues.

2. What Kind of Cases Qualify?
Cases involving children’s welfare, such as child custody disputes and child protection issues, frequently qualify for OCL intervention. They serve as a voice for children who may struggle to be heard due to legal complications, ensuring that their needs are addressed and taken into account. The OCL comes in to assist families in navigating these difficult situations, always keeping the child’s perspective in mind.

3. Can They Refuse to Get Involved?
In child protection cases where a judge has ordered that the OCL become involved, they must become involved. In other circumstances, the OCL may refuse to intervene. While they strive to help in many instances involving children, there are some circumstances that can influence their decision not to intervene. These criteria could include the age of the child, the nature of the case, or the child’s capacity to communicate their preferences. The OCL carefully considers each case and makes a decision based on what is best for the child. As a result, they can refuse to intervene if they consider their intervention would be inappropriate or harmful to the child.

4. Do Parties Need to Be in Court to Have OCL Involved?
The Office of the Children’s Lawyer (OCL) becomes involved in a case only when a judge requests it. If a court believes that gathering independent information on a child is necessary, he or she may request that the OCL intervene in the family matter. However, whether or not to accept the case is at the discretion of the OCL. This implies that, while a judge’s request opens the prospect of OCL intervention, the final decision rests with the OCL, assuring careful thought before they step in to support the kid and family.

5. Costs, if Any, for the Same
The Office of the Children’s lawyers (OCL) services are fully government-funded, ensuring that financial constraints are not interfering with a child’s access to legal representation. 

In conclusion, the Office of the Children’s Lawyer acts as a shield, defending the innocence and rights of children in court. Their involvement provides not only legal assistance but also emotional support to children in challenging situations.


Government of Ontario. (2021, May 21). Office of the Children’s Lawyer. Ontario.ca. https://www.ontario.ca/page/office-childrens-lawyer 

Cross, Pamela. (2016, March 10). Tips on Dealing with the Office of the Children’s Lawyer. Luke’s Place. https://lukesplace.ca/tips-on-dealing-with-the-office-of-the-childrens-lawyer/ 

Tremain, A. Julia P. (2022, September 26). Minors Have a Voice Thanks to the Office of the Children’s Lawyer. Legal Matters Canada. https://legalmatterscanada.ca/minors-have-a-voice-thanks-to-the-office-of-the-childrens-lawyer/

Leanne Townsend Lawyer and Divorce Coach
Leanne Townsend is a multifaceted entrepreneur and attorney experienced in the areas of family law and domestic violence. She provides a full range of family law legal services in addition to running workshops and other programs to support people as they go through divorce.

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