Youth protection authorites admonished by appeal court

Admonished by the Quebec Court of Appeal for single-mindedly trying to place a child before giving an opportunity to the parents to fulfill their parental responsibilities, youth protection authorities now face a more stringent test before envisioning adoption as a “solution to a difficult situation.”

In overturning a lower court ruling that authorized youth protection authorities to proceed with the placement of a child for adoption, the appeal court also provided guidance to courts of first instances, reminding them that they have a responsibility to question decisions made by youth protection, as is foreseen by the Youth Protection Act (Act).

“The message I hope that will be heard by judges of first instances is that in matters relating to adoption, the appeal court is telling you that you can — and even must — ask questions because parents caught in those situations face a battle akin to David and Goliath,” said Michel Tétrault, a family law expert who teaches at the Université de Sherbrooke. “Parents feel they stand no chance when facing youth protection authorities and their armada of experts. But while judges should be more critical of decision-making by youth protection, this is a culture that must be developed. A lot of judges place a lot of faith in youth protection authorities.”

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