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Can an order for supervised access be made if the child is 16 years old?

For a child aged 16 or over, there can be special circumstances relating not just to supervised access, but to other forms of access and custody as well.

In a general sense, a court is fully entitled to make a custody or access order (with or without supervision) in connection with your child even if he or she is aged 16 or over. However, the court’s power might have to be curtailed or adapted if your child in this age-bracket has voluntarily withdrawn from your parental control, refuses to maintain contact, and has become alienated from you and the other parent.

In these cases, the court may have to strike a balance between your custody/access rights as parents versus your child’s right to personal autonomy and best interests, and to having his or her preferences implemented. In particular, the Ontario Children’s Law Reform Act recognizes that when your child is 16 or over, he or she has the right to determine who to live with, and on what terms. The federal Divorce Act likewise does not impair your older child’s ability to withdraw from your charge as parents in some circumstances.

In scenarios involving an alienated child aged 16 or over, a court must recognize the child’s growing right to make his or her decisions (and conversely the parents’ limited power and effectiveness) when it comes to making custody and access orders. Indeed, a court may find it appropriate to rescind prior orders that stipulate custody or access (whether supervised or not) or to not make such an order in the first place.

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