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AP 322: Custody of Children


Access disputes between parents or other family members may be complicated by the fact that legal custody of the child has not been determined by a court or by formal agreement. In such cases, de facto custody lies with the parent with whom the child resides.

While it is preferable to avoid becoming involved in an access dispute, the protection and best interests of the child must be a major factor in the decision whether or not to release a student to a person claiming custody.

The best interests and rights of the child must be paramount when responding to individuals who wish to gain access to children via the schools or to obtain information regarding students within the system.


  1. All claims by those other than the legal guardian for custody or access to students must be referred to the Principal.
  2. The Principal, upon receiving such a request, shall:
    1. Ask the claimant to provide identification and, if necessary, produce a court order or agreement regarding custody or access;
    2. Inform the claimant the parent or guardian with whom the student lives shall be informed a claim for access has been made; and
    3. Notify the legal guardian of the claimant’s request;
    4. If the legal guardian cannot be contacted, then the student should be notified of the situation and detained at the school until satisfactory arrangements can be made to ensure the student’s safety under the circumstances.
  3. A record shall be kept in the school of any access claims that may be received, including dates, times, names and demeanour of person involved and a record of actual statements made.
  4. When deemed necessary, the Superintendent shall be informed by the Principal of such demands for access.
  5. Any request for access to a student or student information (for example student report cards etc.) from a parent or guardian with whom the student does not live shall be referred to the principal. Such information may be released to an individual with parental rights. An individual who is a parent of a student and for whom there is no court documentation restricting access to the student is assumed to have parental rights. 
  6. The principal and all school staff should be guided only by the best interests of the child in making any decision regarding access to the student or student information.
  7. In no circumstance shall the principal or other school staff members allow parents to put them in the position of being a referee in custody or access disputes. Staff members shall not choose between parents or take sides with a parent.
  8. Foster Parents and Child Welfare Situations
    If the child is subject to a court order or agreement pursuant to the Child Welfare Act, as a result of the determination that the child is in need of protection, the foster parent or guardian appointed pursuant to the order or agreement stands in the place of the parents. In such a situation, the provisions of the court order govern.
  9. Non-Custodial Parents Attending School Functions
    Division schools may host a number of public functions, which may include concerts and sports events. In keeping with the public nature of these events, both parents are entitled to attend, without discrimination, all public school events on the basis of Section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (guarantee of equality) unless there are court orders to the contrary.