Kids can get legal help

Q&A By John T. Syrtash, Associate,
Garfin Zeidenberg LLP, a Toronto family law lawyer for the past 38  years

Question:  I am fifteen years old. I am currently living with my father and stepmother. I do not live with my mother because of a drug addiction she has in the past and her failure to appear in court over custody of me. My mother has no custody of me, only visitation rights. I am truly unhappy living with my father because he emotionally abuses me, yet I would not like to live with my mother either. I would love to live with my grandmother, but I  doubt it’s possible. I have a countless number of counselors and psychologists, yet nothing helps me. I have even contacted children’s aid and they do not want to bother with my case either. I need a place to live where I can feel safe and loved which is why I would like to live with my grandmother. I feel like my feelings do not matter and I cannot understand why it is so difficult for me to be happy. Please help me!

Answer: Youth between the ages of 12-17 who need their own lawyers in certain family law situations or in criminal law matters can turn to justice for Children and Youth, an agency of the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services by calling 416-920-1633 to see if they can help. They are very kind and helpful.

Question: I have court papers saying that I am allowed to have my son every second weekend. One day my son, who is 10, decided he didn’t want to see me anymore. The last time I went to see my son, he was not there. My ex told me that the next time I come, I have to make an appointment to see him. I called him on Christmas and was talking to him for a few seconds, and then the phone went dead. I called back right away but nobody picked up the phone. I pay a lot for child support. Why bother paying child support if I cannot see my son? Is there anything I can do?


Answer: In law, you’ve got to pay child support even if you are denied access. However, as pointed out in my earlier article, ask a judge to cite your wife for contempt of court for breaching the court order and threaten her with jail or a large fine, if she continues to prevent you from seeing your son. The court could also ask a child therapist to investigate your son’s true wishes.    

John Syrtash is an associate and family law lawyer with the Toronto firm of GARFIN ZEIDENBERG LLP.

Neither GARFIN ZEIDENBERG LLP nor John Syrtash is liable for any consequences arising from anyone’s reliance on this material, presented as general information and not as a legal opinion.

John T. Syrtash,
Yonge-Norton Centre
5255 Yonge Street, Suite 800
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M2N 6P4
Cell:  (416) 886-0359
Fax: (416) 512-9992

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