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Recently, there have been some thought provoking parenting cases in the news – one man lost custody of his children because he was overweight. Then, a local Ottawa couple had four children taken away from them at birth because of the father's juvenile criminal record of sexual indecency. Finally, a local Ottawa mother lost her children after leaving them unsupervised for an estimated period of 18 hours.

In some cases, it is obvious that children are in need of protection, but in other cases, you have to wonder whether the court is interjecting prematurely. In particular, can we really proactively deem a parent unfit because of a juvenile criminal record for sexual indecency before even giving them the chance to parent their child? On the other hand, do we want to put these children at risk at all if it is unnecessary? When dealing with children there is a tendency to err on the side of caution. While this intention is admirable, we also have to consider the children's best interests. This consideration includes the role that natural parents should play, if any, in the child's life.

I for one do not envy the child protection workers and judges who are faced with making these choices on a regular basis. Do you think that we are finding the right balance?

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This content is not intended to provide legal advice or opinion as neither can be given without reference to specific events and situations. © 2021 Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP.

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