Children's Rights

Law

Children and young people (also called “minors”) have rights under the law. See the sections below to learn about:

  • What children’s rights are in Alberta, Canada, and the rest of the world
  • The “best interests of the child” and how it can affect children’s legal matters
  • What children can expect from their parent or guardian
  • How age can affect a child’s rights to make choices and do certain activities
  • Children’s rights when it comes to health matters, employment, education, driving, travelling, money, and privacy
  • Children’s rights when their parents are separating or divorcing
  • Children’s rights when they are adopted or were born from “assisted reproduction” technology
  • Children’s rights when they are in foster care
  • Youth who want to live independently or be in a committed relationship
  • Underage pregnancy and parenting

Please read “Who is this Information Page for?” just below to make sure you are on the right page.

LegalAve provides general legal information, not legal advice. Learn more here.

Last Reviewed: May 2017
Who is this Information Page for?

This Information Page has information about the rights of minors in Alberta. A “minor” is someone who is not yet an adult. In Alberta, a minor is anyone who is under 18 years old.

For certain legal matters, minors have specific rights. In certain situations, minors may be treated as adults. This Information Page describes what those rights and situations are, so children and their parents can make informed decisions.

In general, the law on this Information Page is about people who live in Alberta. This is because in order for Alberta law to apply, the people involved should all live in Alberta.

You are currently on the Law tab of this Information Page, which has information on what the law says in Alberta about children’s rights. There is also important information in the Common Questions and Myths tabs above.

What the words mean

These words are not listed alphabetically—they are in the order that makes it easiest to understand the complete legal picture.

If you are looking for a specific term, you can use the Glossary, which is in alphabetical order.

adult

A person who is at least 18 years old, which is also called the “age of majority.”

Be Aware

The age of majority is different across Canada. In Alberta, the age at which a person is considered an adult is 18.

minor

A person who is not yet an adult (has not reached the “age of majority”).

guardian (of a child)

A person who has the right to make decisions for a child, and the responsibility to care for that child by providing the “necessaries of life,” such as food and shelter. Alberta’s Family Law Act describes the decision-making powers, rights, and responsibilities of the guardians of children. This role is called “guardianship.”

In Alberta, a child is a person under the age of 18, and every child must have at least one guardian. A child may have 2 or more guardians.

A person does not have to be a parent to be a guardian, and not all parents are guardians (although most are).

age of majority

The age when a person becomes an adult under the law. In Alberta, the age of majority is 18. In some provinces in Canada, the age of majority is 19.

When you reach the age of majority, your parents or previous guardians will no longer have the power to make decisions for you. They also will no longer be legally required to provide you with the “necessaries of life,” such as food and shelter. In other words, you will now have to make your own decisions and look after yourself.

legal age

The age when a person is legally allowed to do something. This happens at different ages, depending on the activity. For example, you can be of legal age to drive without being the age of majority.

age of consent

The age when a person can make their own decisions about certain things. This can happen at different ages, depending on what the decision is about. For example, when you are 12 years old, you must give your consent to be adopted (unless a court decides otherwise). But you won’t be able to sign most contracts until you are the age of majority, or you may need your guardians’ consent to do so.

best interests of the child

The factors that parents, guardians, and/or the Court must consider when making decisions about a child. The best interests of the child “test” is made up of many considerations that focus on the well-being of the child.

For example:

  • the physical, psychological, and emotional safety and well-being of the child;
  • the child’s need for stability, taking into consideration the child’s age and stage of development and attachment;
  • the child’s history of care;
  • the child’s cultural and religious background; and
  • for older children, the wishes of the child.

child support

Money paid by a parent or someone who “stood in the place of a parent” to help pay for the living expenses of a child after a separation or divorce. Child support is sometimes called “child maintenance.”

in loco parentis / “in the place of a parent”

In loco parentis is a Latin term meaning “in the place of a parent.” This phrase describes a situation where someone who was not the parent of a child nevertheless acted as a parent to that child. As a result, this person may wish to (or be required to) take on legal rights and responsibilities as if he or she were a parent. In the Family Law Act, this concept is called “in the place of a parent” (but you may still hear it called “in loco parentis”).

adoption

A legal process in which the legal rights and duties of one person or couple toward a child are ended, and are permanently transferred to another person or couple who become the adoptive parents.

Adoptive parents have all the legal rights and responsibilities a parent can have toward a child. Legally they are treated no differently than any other kind of parent. After an adoption, the child’s birth certificate is changed so that the adoptive parents are listed as the child’s parents.

capacity

The term “capacity” refers to the ability (or inability) to make decisions.

In general, there are 2 parts to mental capacity:

  1. The ability to understand the nature of a decision. This includes understanding all of the information that is relevant to a particular decision.
  2. The ability to understand the consequences of making a decision. That is, a person with capacity would understand what could happen as a result of making a certain decision.

Legally, mental capacity is a clear concept: at any given moment, you either have capacity, or you do not. However, capacity can change from moment to moment. For example:

  • a person who is drunk or high may not have capacity, even if he or she otherwise would; and
  • a person can flip back and forth between having capacity and not having capacity, due to things such as the effect of medications (or forgetting to take them), or changing blood sugar levels.

In Alberta, the law assumes everyone 18 or older has mental capacity, unless it is shown otherwise (usually by a doctor's opinion or a judge's decision).

consent

To give permission for something to happen, or to agree to do something. Only people with capacity can consent.

common-law partner

In Alberta, the term “common-law” only applies to certain couples and only for certain federal laws (such as the Income Tax Act). Under most federal laws, the term “common-law” refers to a couple who has lived together in a romantic relationship:

  • for at least one year; or
  • for less than one year but they have a child together.

Under Alberta’s provincial laws, there is no such thing as “common-law” partners and “common-law” relationships. In Alberta, similar rights and responsibilities come from being in an “Adult Interdependent Relationship.”

Adult Interdependent Relationship (AIR)

The term used in Alberta to describe what many people might think of as a “common-law” relationship.

A person is in an Adult Interdependent Relationship if he or she has been living with and in a “relationship of interdependence” with another person:

  • for 3 years; or
  • for less than 3 years if they have signed an Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement; or
  • for less than 3 years if they have a child together (by birth or adoption).

A “relationship of interdependence” is a relationship where the partners are not married but they:

  • share one another’s lives;
  • are emotionally committed to one another; and
  • function as an economic and domestic unit.
Be Aware

The relationship does not have to be romantic or sexual to meet these requirements; it can be non-romantic (also called “platonic”). For information about non-romantic AIRs, see the Non-romantic Adult Interdependent Relationships Information Page.

spouse

A person who is married to another person.

Indian

A person who has “Indian status” under Canada’s Indian Act. This term was originally used by Europeans to identify indigenous people of South America, Central America, and North America. Although it is no longer commonly used to refer to Aboriginal people, it is still the “legal” term required by the Indian Act.

The laws that may apply to you

You may wish to read the laws (also called “statutes” or “acts”) that apply to your situation. The laws included on this Information Page are:

Web Minors' Property Act (and associated Regulations)
Government of Alberta
English



Web Health Information Act (and associated Regulations)
Government of Alberta
English

Web Youth Criminal Justice Act
Government of Canada
English

Web Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Government of Canada
English

When reading laws, you also need to know about the “regulations” associated with those laws. Each of the links above takes you to a page that lists the laws as well as the regulations that go with them. For more information on laws and regulations, see the Our Legal System Information Page.

What are children’s rights?

Human rights

Every person has certain rights. In Canada and many other countries, all human beings have these rights. This is true no matter our age, nationality, place of residence, gender, ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. These are called “human rights.” Human rights are often guaranteed by law. Some of these laws are international, and some are national or regional. Human rights laws set out the obligations of governments to protect people’s human rights and fundamental freedoms.

International human rights

Many countries have agreed on what basic human rights are. As a result, many countries, including Canada, have signed international “conventions” about human rights. These are legally binding laws.

For information about human rights around the world, see the following resource.

Web Human Rights by Country
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish

Human rights in Canada

In Canada, our human rights are listed in various laws. The most important of these is the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It includes things such as:

  • freedom of religion, thought, belief, and expression;
  • the right for citizens to vote;
  • the right to move freely throughout Canada and to travel to other countries;
  • rights if accused of a crime;
  • the right to be treated equally under the law and not be discriminated against.

These rights are about how governments (and organizations acting on behalf of governments) are allowed or are not allowed to behave toward people in Canada.

For more information about the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, see the following resources.


Interactive Fundamental Freedom: The Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Government of Canada
Chinese, English, French, German, Italian

Web Human rights
Government of Canada
English

Web Les droits de la personne
Government of Canada
French

Presentation The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms: Part 1 - What it is & What it is Not
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Government of Canada
English

Web La Charte canadienne des droits et libertés
Government of Canada
French

Human rights in Alberta

The province of Alberta also has a law about human rights: the Alberta Human Rights Act. It also protects certain human rights in Alberta. This includes protection against discrimination based on:

  • race, colour, or ancestry;
  • gender;
  • religious beliefs;
  • mental or physical disability;
  • age (if you are over 18 years old);
  • place of origin;
  • family status;
  • sexual orientation.

The Alberta Human Rights Act also protects Albertans in the area of equal pay.

These rights are about how governments (and organizations acting on behalf of governments) are allowed or are not allowed to behave toward people in Alberta.

For more information about the Alberta Human Rights Act, see the following resources.

Web Human Rights & Discrimination
Student Legal Services of Edmonton
English

PDF Human rights in Alberta
Government of Alberta
English

Web Protected areas and grounds under the Alberta Human Rights Act
Government of Alberta
English
Also see the topics on the left of the page.

Web Human Rights Law in Alberta
Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre
English

Web Information sheets
Government of Alberta
English

Web The Alberta Human Rights Act
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web The Alberta Human Rights Commission: fostering equality and reducing discrimination
Canadian Association of Statutory Human Rights Agencies
English

Web Your Rights at Work
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web Your rights when renting: Human rights in Alberta
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Children’s rights

Children and youth also have additional rights. This is to recognize that children are vulnerable and need additional protection.

International children’s rights

In 1989, the United Nations laid out these rights in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Canada officially accepted (“ratified”) this Convention in 1991. These rights include:

  • Protection from abuse and drugs
  • The right to education and health care
  • The right to be heard and to participate
  • Additional rights for Aboriginal children and children with disabilities

Everyone under the age of 18 is considered a “child” for the purposes of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

For more information, see the following resources.




Web Convention on the Rights of the Child
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
English

Web Children’s Rights: Canada
Library of Congress
English

Web Convention on the Rights of the Child (available in 58 languages)
UNICEF
Arabic, Chinese, English, Farsi, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese, Other languages





Web What are my rights?
Office of the Child and Youth Advocate
English

International children’s rights also protect children from being taken from their home country. This is under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. For more information about that, see the Family Breakdown and Out-of-Province Issues Information Page.

Children’s rights in Canada

In Canada, a person does not become a person until they are born. This means that human rights and children’s rights do not apply between conception and birth. In other countries this may be defined differently. For more information about how a “person” is defined in Canada, see the following resources.

Web Criminal Code: When child becomes human being
Government of Canada
English

Who can help young people with their legal issues?

There are people and places that can help minors deal with their legal issues. They may be able to:

  • give you support and guidance;
  • give you legal advice; or
  • represent you in court.

For more information, see the following resources.

Web Ask a Lawyer your Question
Children's Legal & Educational Resource Centre
English

Web OCYA Information for Children & Youth
Office of the Child and Youth Advocate
English

There are also more general resources on the Community Legal Resources & Legal Aid Information Page.

Children and family violence

Family violence (also called “domestic violence”) is abuse of power by one person (the “abuser”) toward one or more other people that the abuser has a relationship with. This can occur in any kind of relationship. It is most common to think of family abuse happening in romantic relationships. However, it can occur in other relationships as well, including relationships with children, elders, siblings, and pets.

Abuse is wrong. No one ever deserves to be abused. You should not feel ashamed or embarrassed about abuse happening in your family. Abuse can happen to people in all parts of society. It does not matter:

  • how old they are;
  • whether they are female or male;
  • what their ethnic background or religion is; or
  • whether they are rich or poor.

For more information, see the following resources and the What is Family Violence? Information Page. If you are in an abusive dating relationship, see the Partner Abuse Information Page.

Web Abuse at Home
Justice Education Society
English



Web Abuse: Youth
Government of Alberta
English

Web Information for Children and Youth
Government of Canada
English


Web Forced Marriage
Children's Legal & Educational Resource Centre
English

“Honour” crimes

Some young people may be abused by a family member based on “honour.” In these cases, a victim’s family believes that the victim is acting in a way that will bring shame to the family. If the family member’s violent actions are a crime, “honour” is not a defence in Canada. The action will still be a crime.

For more information, see the following resource.

Web Child Abuse is Wrong: What Can I Do?
Government of Canada
English
See “Violence based on so-called honour.”

Web La maltraitance des enfants est inacceptable : Que puis-je faire?
Government of Canada
French
Voir : “Violence liée au soi-disant honneur.”

If you fear for your safety, call the police.


Who can help?

There are places that can help.

For general family violence information and referrals to supports and services in your area, contact the Family Violence Info Line. Their toll-free phone number is 310-1818, and they are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in more than 170 languages.

You can also go to their website and chat online. The online chat is available every day from noon until 8:00 pm. The online chat is anonymous, which means that the person you speak to will not know who you are and you will not know who they are. The online chat is only available in English. If you would like to speak to someone in another language, it is best to talk to a staff member over the phone. See the following resource to start a chat session.

Web Find Supports and Services
Government of Alberta
English
The “best interests of the child”

In general, for legal issues involving children, the guiding principle is the best interests of the child. The best interests of the child “test” is made up of many considerations that focus on the well-being of the child. For example:

  • the physical, psychological, and emotional safety and well-being of the child;
  • the child’s need for stability, taking into consideration the child’s age and stage of development and attachment;
  • the child’s history of care;
  • the child’s cultural and religious background; and
  • for older children, the wishes of the child.

For more information on the best interests of the child and how that test is applied in court, see the following resources.

PDF Families and the Law: Child Custody and Parenting
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
Start on p. 15.


Audio/Web Custody and Access
Calgary Legal Guidance
English

Web Alberta custody: factors to determine a child’s best interest
Kirk Montoute LLP
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.

Video In The Know - "Best interest of the children" and what that means for custody and access
Feldstein Family Law Group (via YouTube)
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.

PDF Aboriginal Parenting After Separation (Handbook)
Justice Education Society
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here. See p. 40-41.

Web The Best Interests of the Aboriginal Child
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

PDF Les ententes parentales
Association des juristes d'expression française de l'Alberta
French

Video Atelier juridique en français sur les ententes parentales
Association des juristes d'expression française de l'Alberta (via YouTube)
French
What can a child expect from their parents and guardians?

What is “guardianship”?

“Guardianship” is the word used in Alberta’s Family Law Act to describe the decision-making power that adults have about a child. In addition to making decisions, guardians are also responsible for making sure the child is safe and well cared for.

A person does not have to be a parent to be a guardian, and not all parents are guardians (although most are).

In Alberta, all children are subject to guardianship. This means that if you are under 18 years old, you must have a guardian. The only way to become your own guardian if you are younger than 18 is to be in an Adult Interdependent Relationship with someone else, or to get married. There is more information about that in these sections below:

  • “Young people entering into Adult Interdependent Relationships”
  • “Young people getting married”

Who is a guardian?

The Family Law Act sets out who is automatically the guardian of a child. Usually both parents are guardians, and a child may have other legal guardians. Sometimes, the government is the child’s guardian. For example, if a child is in foster care.

For more information about who can be the guardian of a child, see the following resources.

Web What is a guardian?
Legal Aid Alberta
English

Web How do I become a guardian?
Legal Aid Alberta
English


Web Do children get to pick their guardians?
Legal Aid Alberta
English

What do guardians do?

Guardians are responsible for:

  • major decisions about the child;
  • day-to-day decisions about the child; and
  • taking care of the child.

Major decisions

Guardians have the right to be informed of, and consulted about all major decisions affecting the child, including:

  • education;
  • cultural or religious upbringing; and
  • where the child will live.

Day-to-day decisions

Guardians have the right to make day-to-day decisions affecting the child, including:

  • daily care and supervision;
  • daily activities;
  • extracurricular activities;
  • who the child associates with;
  • if the child should work; and
  • medical, dental, and other health-related treatment for the child.

Giving care

Guardians are responsible for:

  • caring for the child’s physical, psychological, and emotional development; and
  • guiding the child toward independent adulthood.

When does a child need their guardians’ consent to do something?

The rest this Information Page describes situations when:

  • parents or guardians may be required to give their consent on behalf of a child; and
  • minors may be able to consent for themselves.

More information

For more general information about the role and responsibilities of a guardian, see the following resources.

Web Apply for child guardianship
Government of Alberta
English

Web Guardianship
Children's Legal & Educational Resource Centre
English

Audio/Web Guardianship rights to a child
Calgary Legal Guidance
English

Audio/Web Parents' obligations to their children
Calgary Legal Guidance
English


Audio/Web Your liability to your children
Calgary Legal Guidance
English

PDF Are parents and others allowed to hit me?!
Justice for Children and Youth
English

PDF A Girl's Guide to Knowing Her Rights
YWCA Canada
English

For information about child safety laws that guardians must follow, see the following resources.

Web Corporal Punishment & "Spanking"
Justice for Children and Youth
English

Web Châtiments corporels et la fessée
Justice for Children and Youth
French

Web At what age can my child be left home alone?
Calgary's Child Magazine
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.

PDF Legal Age for Leaving Children Unsupervised Across Canada
Canadian Child Welfare Research Portal
English
This resource can be a challenge to read. Learn more here.

Web Seat Belt Legislation
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web Child Safety Seats
Alberta Health Services
English

For more detailed information about the role and responsibilities of parents and guardians, see the following Information Pages:

Age matters: Age of majority, legal age, and age of consent

You have probably heard many different terms about how your age determines if you are allowed to do something. The most common terms are:

  • age of majority
  • legal age
  • age of consent

These terms may seem similar, but there are some key differences.

The age of majority refers to when a person becomes an adult under the law. In Alberta, the age of majority is 18. In some provinces in Canada, the age of majority is 19. When you reach the age of majority, your parents or previous guardians will no longer have the power to make decisions for you. They also will no longer be legally required to provide you with the “necessaries of life,” such as food and shelter. In other words, you will now have to make your own decisions and look after yourself.

Someone’s legal age is much more flexible. It refers to which age you are legally allowed to do something. This happens at different ages, depending on the activity. For example, you can be of legal age to drive without being the age of majority.

The age of consent is the age when a person can make their own decisions about certain things. Again, this can happen at different ages, depending on what the decision is about. For example, when you are 12 years old, you must give your consent to be adopted (unless a court decides otherwise). But you won’t be able to sign most contracts until you are the age of majority, or you may need your guardians’ consent to do so.

For more information about these terms and how they affect you and your legal rights, see the following resources.

Web Youth FAQs – General Questions
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

PDF How Old Do I Have To Be in Alberta?
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web Law Topics
Children's Legal & Educational Resource Centre
English

PDF A Girl's Guide to Knowing Her Rights
YWCA Canada
English
See p. 50-53.

Web Canada’s Legal Driving Ages: Province-by-Province
Value Car & Truck Rental
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.

Web Legal Drinking Age for Alcohol in Canada
Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse
English

PDF Legal Age for Leaving Children Unsupervised Across Canada
Canadian Child Welfare Research Portal
English
This resource can be a challenge to read. Learn more here.
Health matters: Medical consent, the age of consent for sexual activity, and other health choices

As children grow up, their involvement in their own health changes. There are many issues that can come up with an older child, and it may not always be clear

  • what is allowed under the law; and
  • who makes the decisions under the law.

The rest of this section has information about what the law says about underage people dealing with a variety of health-related topics, including:

  • Medical consent for minors
  • Age of consent for sexual activity
  • Sexual health care for minors
  • Minors using alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs

Medical consent for minors

In Alberta, parents or guardians are responsible for making medical decisions for the children in their care. This is called giving “consent” for medical treatment.

However, as children mature, they often take a more active role in decisions that affect their bodies. A minor who is mature enough to make their own medical decisions is called a “mature minor.”

There is no set age for mature minors. It depends on the individual child and the seriousness of the medical treatment. For more information about mature minors and medical consent, see the following resources.

Web Independent Living
Children's Legal & Educational Resource Centre
English

Web Youth FAQs - Health & Medical
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Audio/Web Giving medical consent
Calgary Legal Guidance
English

Web Patients' Rights
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

PDF Families and the Law: Young Parents
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
See p. 4.

PDF A Girl's Guide to Knowing Her Rights
YWCA Canada
English
See p. 44-49.

PDF Consent for minor patients
College of Physicians & Surgeons of Alberta
English

PDF Frequently Asked Questions: Consent and Minors
Alberta Health Services
English

PDF Minor Algorithm for Patients Under 18
Alberta Health Services
English


In some cases, parents or guardians may try to make medical decisions that are not in the “best interests of the child.” This is not allowed. For more information about what can happen in these cases, see the following resources.

Web Medical Care and Children: Law, Ethics and Emotions Collide
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web Case Update: Aboriginal right to traditional medicine does not trump best interests of the child
Lisa Feldstein Law Office
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Web Should parents be allowed to stunt the growth of and sterilize their disabled child?
Lisa Feldstein Law Office
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Age of consent for sexual activity

The age of consent for sexual activity is 16 years old in Canada. This means that in general, the law assumes that someone under 16 cannot agree to sexual activity.

However, in some situations the age of consent for sexual activity may be higher or lower. For more information about these situations, see the following resources.

Web What is the age of consent for sexual activity?
Children's Legal & Educational Resource Centre
English

Web Consent: What it is and why it's important
Kids Help Phone
English


PDF A Girl's Guide to Knowing Her Rights
YWCA Canada
English
See p. 45-49.

Web Age of Consent to Sexual Activity
Government of Canada
English

Web L'âge de consentement aux activités sexuelles
Government of Canada
French


Web L’âge du consentement sexuel
Éducaloi
French

Web New sexual consent law may confuse teens
The Globe and Mail
English

Consent is always required

It is always against the law for a person to have sex with someone who doesn’t consent, no matter how old they are. If you do not consent, it is sexual assault (even if you are in a relationship with the person). For more information, see the following resources.

Web Communication and Decision Making
Calgary Sexual Health Centre
English
See “Consent.”

Web No Means No: Understanding Consent to Sexual Activity
Public Legal Education and Information Service of New Brunswick
English

Web Non, c'est non: Comprendre le consentement à une activité sexuelle
Public Legal Education and Information Service of New Brunswick
French

Web Sexual abuse: How to get help and heal
Kids Help Phone
English

Web What is sexual assault?
Kids Help Phone
English

PDF A Girl's Guide to Knowing Her Rights
YWCA Canada
English
See p. 37-41.

For more information about dating violence and sexual assault, see the Partner Abuse Information Page.

Sexting

There are also laws that affect young people “sexting.” Specifically, there are situations where teens sending sexual images and videos of people under 18 can be illegal and can lead to criminal charges and possible jail time. For more information, see the following resources.

Web Sexting: Privacy and the law
Kids Help Phone
English

Web What is sexting?
Kids Help Phone
English

Web Sexting basics: How to stay safe
Kids Help Phone
English

Web The legality of sexting
McElroy Law
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.

Sexual health care for minors

Young people may have specific sexual health concerns, including:

  • birth control and sexually transmitted diseases;
  • getting pregnant;
  • having an abortion; and
  • the right to privacy when using sexual health services.

For information about these issues, see the following resources.

Web Youth FAQs - Health & Medical
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

PDF Families and the Law: Young Parents
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
See p. 4-5.

PDF A Girl's Guide to Knowing Her Rights
YWCA Canada
English
See p. 45-49.


Web Teen Pregnancy and Child Support
Children's Legal & Educational Resource Centre
English

There is more detailed information about teen pregnancy in the “Underage pregnancy and underage parents” section below.

Minors using alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs

In Alberta, you cannot use alcohol or tobacco until you are 18 years old. There is an exception if you are using tobacco as part of an Aboriginal cultural or spiritual practice. For more information, see the following resources.

Web Tobacco and Alcohol
Children's Legal & Educational Resource Centre
English

Web Youth FAQs - Health & Medical
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

In other provinces, you cannot smoke or drink until you are 19 years old. If you are travelling to another province or country, it is important to know the laws there, as you will have to follow them. For more information, see the following resources.

Web Legal Drinking Age for Alcohol in Canada
Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse
English

Web Smoking laws by province
FindLaw
English
Employment rights of minors

In Alberta, minors are legally allowed to work in certain jobs from the age of 12. After the age of 15, many more jobs are available to minors.

See the following resources for information about:

  • what jobs you can work as a minor;
  • limits on the hours you can work as a minor; and
  • if you need permission from your parent or guardian to work.
Web Young Workers in Alberta – Working Under 18
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web Youth FAQs – Work
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Audio/Web Youth Employment
Calgary Legal Guidance
English

PDF Employment Standards: Adolescents and Young Persons
Government of Alberta
English

PDF Your Rights and Responsibilities at Work
Government of Alberta
English
See p. 8-9.

See the following resources for general information about working in Alberta, including

  • your rights in the workplace;
  • the minimum wage in Alberta; and
  • workplace safety.
Web Young Workers Zone
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
English

PDF Your Rights and Responsibilities at Work
Government of Alberta
English

Web Minimum Wage
Government of Alberta
English

Web Young Workers
Government of Alberta
English
Driving and recreational vehicles for minors

Driving a car in Alberta

In Alberta, you can get your learner’s licence to drive a car at age 14, and a driver’s licence at age 16. For both of these licences, you will need permission from your parents or guardians. For more information about who is eligible for these licences and how to apply for them, see the following resources.

Web Youth FAQs – Questions about Activities
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web Driver's licence
Government of Alberta
English

Web Driver Licensing
Government of Alberta
English

Web Independent Living
Children's Legal & Educational Resource Centre
English
See “Can I get a driver’s license without my parents?” and “When can I buy a car on my own?”

Web Drivers License Alberta
Young Drivers of Canada
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.

Web Driver Guides
Government of Alberta
English

Web Distracted Driving Legislation
Government of Alberta
English

The laws about minors driving are different in every province. This includes both the age for getting a licence and the age for getting a learner’s permit. If you are moving to another province or territory, you will need to follow the laws there. For more information, see the following resources.

Web Driving in Canada
Government of Canada
English

Web Conduite automobile au Canada
Government of Canada
French

Web Canada’s Legal Driving Ages: Province-by-Province
Value Car & Truck Rental
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.

Web Exchange a licence from outside Alberta
Government of Alberta
English

Motorcycles and recreational vehicles

You may want to ride or drive something other than a car, such as:

  • motorcycles;
  • snowmobiles;
  • ATVs;
  • power bicycles;
  • trail bikes;
  • mopeds; or
  • boats.

For vehicles other than cars, there are also different age limits and licensing requirements. For information about this, see the following resources.

Web Youth FAQs – Questions about Activities
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web Driver Guides
Government of Alberta
English
See “Becoming a Rider.”
Minors travelling and crossing borders

Passports for minors

All children need their own passports to travel across borders, no matter how young they are. When a child is younger than 16, his or her parent or guardian must apply for the passport. Minors 16 and over can apply for their own passports.

There are many more rules and requirements to apply for a passport. For more information, see the following resources.

Web Independent Living
Children's Legal & Educational Resource Centre
English
See “When can I apply for my own passport?”

PDF Travelling with Children
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web Passports – Children FAQs
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web Travelling with Children FAQs
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web Travel – Additional Resources
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web Passports for children
Government of Canada
English

Web Passeports pour enfants
Government of Canada
French

Web Travelling with kids? 4 Regulations you Need to Know
Family Fun Canada
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.

Minors travelling alone

If you are under 18 years old, you can travel without your guardians, either by yourself or with other friends or family. However, you will usually need a consent letter from your guardians. This will make it clear that you are not running away or being taken away illegally.

Most companies (airlines, trains, buses) have rules about how to arrange travel for minors who do not have an adult travelling with them. This is called travel by “unaccompanied minors.”

For more information, see the following resources.

Web Travelling With Children
Government of Canada
English

Web Voyager avec des enfants
Government of Canada
French

Web Children and travel
Government of Canada
English

Web Enfants et voyage
Government of Canada
French



Web Legal requirements when travelling abroad with a minor
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

For information about specific companies’ policies about children travelling, see the following resources.

Web Children and Travel
Air Canada
English

Web Unaccompanied minors
WestJet
English

Web Unaccompanied minors
VIA Rail Canada
English

Web Children Traveling
Greyhound Canada
English
Education matters

Young people may have questions about their rights at school, what to do about bullying, and their rights if they don’t have legal status to be in Canada.

Rights at school

See the following resources for information about:

  • having “independent student” status
  • privacy rights at school
  • being searched at school
  • dress codes
  • extracurricular activities and field trips
  • being homeschooled
  • religious beliefs at school
  • being expelled or suspended
  • dropping out of high school
Web School
Children's Legal & Educational Resource Centre
English

Web How old do I have to be?
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
See “School.”

PDF A Girl's Guide to Knowing Her Rights
YWCA Canada
English
See p. 12-17.

Bullying

For more information about bullying at school and what you can do about it, see the following resources.

Web Bullying | Get Help
Government of Alberta
English

Web What is bullying?
Kids Help Phone
English

Web What to do if you're experiencing bullying
Kids Help Phone
English

Web School
Children's Legal & Educational Resource Centre
English

Web Privacy
Children's Legal & Educational Resource Centre
English

PDF A Girl's Guide to Knowing Her Rights
YWCA Canada
English
See p. 24-25.

Interactive S-Team Heroes
Government of Alberta
English

Immigration considerations

Children who do not have legal status in Canada can still attend school. For more information, see the following resources.


Children’s right to privacy

Young people may not know when their personal information is kept private, or when it can be shared with their parents, guardians, or other adults.

Privacy at school

You may have questions about your right to privacy at school, such as:

  • If your backpack or locker can be searched
  • If your phone can be taken and searched at school
  • If your photo can be taken at school events

For more information about these topics, see the following resources.

Web School
Children's Legal & Educational Resource Centre
English

Web Privacy
Children's Legal & Educational Resource Centre
English

PDF A Girl's Guide to Knowing Her Rights
YWCA Canada
English
See p. 16-23.

Web Mobile Phone Searches at School
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web What you should know about the FOIP Act
Alberta Teachers' Association
English



Web Children, Education and the Law
The Canadian Encyclopedia
English

PDF Teacher and Student Privacy Rights in Schools: A Perspective from Alberta’s Privacy Commissioner
Government of Alberta
English
This resource can be a challenge to read. Learn more here.

Privacy of medical records and counselling sessions

You may have questions about whether your parents or guardians can see your medical records or notes from counselling sessions.

This depends on many things, including:

  • whether you are a “mature minor” who is allowed to make your own medical decisions; and
  • whether the doctor or counsellor is required to report the information you give for safety or legal reasons.

For more information about these situations, see the following resources.

Web Youth FAQs - Health & Medical
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web School
Children's Legal & Educational Resource Centre
English
See “I want to talk to my school counsellor, but I’m afraid that what I tell him/her will go on my school record for my parents to see.”

PDF A Girl's Guide to Knowing Her Rights
YWCA Canada
English
See p. 44-45.


Web Responding to requests for children's medical records
Canadian Medical Protective Association
English

Web Comment répondre à une demande d'accès au dossier médical d'un enfant
Canadian Medical Protective Association
French

Privacy on the Internet

You may have questions about your right to privacy on the Internet, such as:

  • Social media privacy
  • Your online reputation
  • What information is collected about you online
  • Cyberbullying

For more information about these topics, see the following resources.

Web Privacy
Children's Legal & Educational Resource Centre
English
See “Photos of me and comments about me were put on a website without my consent.”

Web Sexting: Privacy and the law
Kids Help Phone
English

PDF A Girl's Guide to Knowing Her Rights
YWCA Canada
English
See p. 19-23.

Web Discussing online identity and reputation
Government of Canada
English

Web Discussing personal information protection online
Government of Canada
English

Web Social Smarts: privacy, the Internet and you
Government of Canada
English

Web Cyberbullying Information for Teens
Government of Canada
English

Web Cyberbullying: How to stay safe
Kids Help Phone
English

Web Protecting Your Children's Privacy
Canadian Marketing Association
English

Web Social media safety
Calgary Police Service
English

French resources:



Web Branchés et futés : Internet et vie privée
Government of Canada
French

Privacy when involved with the criminal justice system

If a minor is involved in the criminal justice system, their information is usually protected under Canada’s Youth Criminal Justice Act. This means that their names will not be published except in certain circumstances, such as if the crime is very serious.

For more information about this right and the exceptions to it, see the following resources.

Web Publication Bans
Government of Canada
English

Web Interdictions de publication
Government of Canada
French

Web Publication of Identity of Offender
Justice Education Society
English

Web Youth Criminal Justice Act
Justice for Children and Youth
English
See “Youth Records.”

Web Loi sur le système de justice pénale pour les adolescents (LSJPA)
Justice for Children and Youth
French
Voir : “Dossiers.”

Web Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) FAQs: Introduction
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
Children’s rights when their parents are separating or divorcing

When parents separate or divorce, there are many questions about the rights of the children in the process. For an introduction to these rights, see the following resources.

Web My Parents are Splitting up
Children's Legal & Educational Resource Centre
English


Web Teen Guide to Separation & Divorce: FAQ
Families Change
English

Web Teen Guide to Separation & Divorce
Families Change
English

Web Kids Guide to Separation & Divorce
Families Change
English

The rest of this section has more information about:

  • The “best interests of the child” test applied in court
  • Children’s right to time with their parents
  • Whether children can choose which parent they want to live with
  • Children’s right to time with other adults in their life
  • Whether a child is entitled to a lawyer in family law matters
  • Child support in Alberta, including when children can apply for their own child support

The “best interests of the child”

Under the law, any decisions about a child need to be in the “best interests of the child.”

The best interests of the child are factors that parents, guardians, and/or the Court must consider when making decisions about a child. The best interests of the child “test” is made up of many considerations that focus on the well-being of the child.

For example:

  • the physical, psychological, and emotional safety and well-being of the child;
  • the child’s need for stability, taking into consideration the child’s age and stage of development and attachment;
  • the child’s history of care;
  • the child’s cultural and religious background; and
  • for older children, the wishes of the child.

For more information on the best interests of the child and how that test is applied in court, see the resources in the section called “The best interests of the child” above.

Do children have a right to time with both parents?

In most cases, unless ordered otherwise by a court, both parents:

  • have guardianship of their child; and
  • have a right to time with their child.

This means that neither parent is presumed to have a legal right to parenting time over the other parent. This is true even if one parent did most of the child care. And unless ordered otherwise by a court, both parents have a say in decisions that affect the child.

For more information about the law around these issues, see the following resource.


The following Information Pages have detailed information about these issues for parents who are separating or divorcing.

Be Aware

If the parents have never lived together, the biological father may not be a guardian, or may not want to be a guardian. He can still be involved in the child’s life through a “contact order.” For more information about this, see the Contact for Non-Guardians under the Family Law Act Information Page.

Can children choose which parent they want to live with?

There is no specific age when a child is legally “old enough” to decide which parent they want to live with.

If parents are trying to come an agreement on their own, they can include the views of the children in their agreement.

Many separating parents wish to include the views of their children in their parenting plan, especially if the child is older. This may or may not be possible—it really depends on the maturity of the child.

For more information, see the following resources.

Web Youth FAQs – Family
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
See “Family.”

Web Views of a Child & Separated Parents: Living With Dad or Mom
Duhaime.org
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.

Do children have the right to be heard by the judge?

If you go to court, the judge may listen to the wishes of a child, if the judge feels that the child is mature enough to give his or her opinion. In general, the older the child is, the more seriously the judge will consider the child's wishes.

Many courts begin considering children’s opinions by 12 years of age. In some cases, where the child is thought to be mature enough, a court can consider the views of children younger than 12.

However, even if a child does provide an opinion, this does not mean that opinion will determine the issue (no matter the child’s age). Judges must make their decisions based on the legal test of what is in the “best interests of the child.”

There are different ways that a child’s views can be included in the court process. These are described below.

Brief Conflict Intervention

Brief Conflict Intervention is a program of the Alberta government that allows families who qualify to meet with a specialist who helps them try to resolve their parenting disputes. This can include helping to better understand a child’s views during a separation or divorce.

Views of the Child Reports

A Views of the Child Report (also called a “Practice Note 7 Intervention”) is a report from a psychologist. This report is paid for by the parties.

Court paperwork: Statements and Affidavits

Affidavits and Statements are court documents that are “sworn.” This means that the person signing the document promises that what they have said in the document is true. This is called “taking an oath” or “commissioning” a document. There are certain people who are authorized by the government to take an oath. For example: Commissioners for Oaths, Notaries Public, and lawyers. Before taking a child’s oath, these people must be satisfied that the child understands what it means to “swear” to something.

A parent or guardian may be able to put a child’s views in their Affidavit or Statement. In this case, the parent promises that these views are what the child did indeed tell them. The judge can then consider these views when making their decision.

An older child may be able to sign their own Affidavit or Statement. In this case, the child promises that what they have written is indeed what they think and how they feel. The law does not set out a specific age when a child can sign such a document. Often, this means the child should be 12 or over, but not necessarily.

Be Aware

If a child submits an Affidavit or Statement to the Court, he or she may later have to speak these wishes in court if the case goes to a trial.

If a child does want their views included in an Affidavit or a Statement, they may first consider getting legal advice. If they want legal advice, they may be able to use a lawyer of their own, or use the lawyer of a parent or guardian. It will depend on the lawyer.

You can find Commissioners for Oaths and Notaries Public in the yellow pages of the telephone book or online at YellowPages.ca.

For more information about who can help with commissioning a document, contact the Children’s Legal & Educational Resource Centre (CLERC) or Resolution and Court Administration Services. CLERC may also provide legal advice.

Web Ask a Lawyer your Question
Children's Legal & Educational Resource Centre
English

Web Support when parenting apart
Government of Alberta
English
This program is available across Alberta. However, you will register through the Calgary office listed in this resource.

Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
Government of Alberta
English

More information

For more general information, see the following resources.

Web My Parents are Splitting up
Children's Legal & Educational Resource Centre
English
See “Will I have to go to court?” and “Can I talk to the judge? Can I write the judge a letter?”

Web Where do I stand? A child's legal guide to separation and divorce
Government of Ontario
English
See “Do I Have To Go To Court?”

Web Où est ma place? Guide juridique de la séparation et divorce à l'usage des enfants
Government of Ontario
French
Voir : “Dois-je aller au tribunal?”

For detailed information about the options described above, see the Guardianship & Parenting under the Family Law Act Information Page or the Custody and Access under the Divorce Act Information Page.

Can children have their own lawyer when their parents are separating or divorcing?

In most disputes about a child, the child does not have their own lawyer. However, it is possible. A child could have their own lawyer if:

  • parents decide to hire a lawyer to represent the child;
  • the child requests their own lawyer (and the parents agree); or
  • the Court orders that a lawyer be hired for the child. The Court can do this on its own or at the request of the parties.

Be Aware

The lawyer for the child does not handle any legal issues for either of the parents. The child’s lawyer may bring court applications on behalf of the child, or may respond to court applications made by one of the parents. The main role of a child’s lawyer is to speak for the child’s best interests, and let the Court know about the child’s wishes.

For more information, see the following resources and the “Lawyers for children” section of the Guardianship & Parenting under the Family Law Act or the Custody and Access under the Divorce Act Information Pages.

Web My Parents are Splitting up
Children's Legal & Educational Resource Centre
English
See “Can I have my own lawyer?”

Web CLERC in the NEWS
Children's Legal & Educational Resource Centre
English




Web Amicus Curiae—the Child’s Lawyer
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Video Children's Lawyers
AdviceScene (via YouTube)
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here. Note that there is no Office of the Children’s Lawyer in Alberta.

Web The Voice of the Child in Divorce, Custody and Access Proceedings
Government of Canada
English
This resource can be a challenge to read. Learn more here.

Do children have a right to time with their grandparents and other adults?

Children often have relationships with other adults in their lives. For information about children maintaining contact with these people, see the “Do children have a right to contact with other adults?” section below.

Children’s right to child support, and who can apply for child support in Alberta

In Canada, all children have the right to child support. Child support is money paid for the living expenses of a child (also called the “necessaries of life”). This money may be paid by:

  • parents;
  • guardians; or
  • other adults who “stood in the place of a parent.”

In Canada, the amount of support to be paid is based on the Child Support Guidelines. There are 2 different Child Support Guidelines that can be used in Alberta:

  • The Federal Child Support Guidelines, which are used by divorcing parents who are dealing with their family law matters under the federal Divorce Act; and
  • The Alberta Child Support Guidelines, which are used by parents who are dealing with their family law matters under Alberta’s Family Law Act. These may be used by married or unmarried parents.

Both sets of Guidelines are similar, but there are some important differences that may affect children, including:

  • when child support ends;
  • when people who “stood in the place of a parent” (such as step-parents) might have to pay support;
  • what counts as “special expenses”; and
  • whether a child can apply for his or her own child support.

If you are a child concerned about your rights related to child support, you will need to know if any court action has been started about child support. If an action has been started, you will need to know if your parents/guardians used the Divorce Act or the Family Law Act.

When child support ends

Under the Divorce Act (Federal Child Support Guidelines)

  • Child support must be paid for as long as the child is under the age of majority (in Alberta that is 18).
  • Child support can continue past the age of majority if the child is dependent on his or her parents because of illness, disability, or “other cause.”
  • “Other cause” generally means that child support is payable up until a child has finished their first post-secondary degree or diploma.
  • There is no age limit mentioned for when child support must end.

Under the Family Law Act (Alberta Child Support Guidelines)

  • Child support must be paid for as long as the child is under the age of majority (in Alberta that is 18).
  • Child support can continue for a child between the ages of 18 and 22 if that child is a full-time student and therefore is dependent on his or her parents (this is also called “being in the parents’ charge”).
  • The ACSGs say nothing about disability or illness.
  • Child support ends completely once the child turns 22.

Who can apply for child support

Under the Divorce Act, only a spouse (or ex-spouse) can ask another spouse (or ex-spouse) to pay support.

Under the Family Law Act

  • a parent or guardian can ask a parent to pay support;
  • a person who has “care and control” of the child can ask a parent to pay support; and
  • the child himself or herself can ask a parent to pay support.

For more information, see the following resources.

Web Teen Pregnancy and Child Support
Children's Legal & Educational Resource Centre
English

PDF Families and the Law: Financial Support
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
Start on p. 5.

Web A Brief Primer on Child Support: Part One
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
See “Who can ask for support.”

Audio/Web Child and Spousal Support
Calgary Legal Guidance
English

For detailed information about child support, or if you are a guardian looking for information about child support, see one of the following Information Pages:

Changing a child’s name

Parents or guardians changing a child’s name

Parents or guardians may want to change their child’s name. For example, this may happen when:

  • one parent joins a new family or gets remarried;
  • parents separate or divorce; or
  • one parent dies.

If the child is over 12 years of age, he or she will need to consent to the name change. All of the other guardians will also need to consent to the name change.

For more information about parents/guardians changing a child’s name, see the following resources.

Web Change of Name
Student Legal Services of Edmonton
English
See “Changing Your Child’s Name.”

Web What’s in a Name? Legal Issues in Changing a Child’s Name
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web Teen Pregnancy and Child Support
Children's Legal & Educational Resource Centre
English

Audio/Web Changing Your Name
Calgary Legal Guidance
English

Minors changing their own names

On the other hand, a minor may want to change their own name. To do this, they will usually need the consent of both parents and any other guardians. But there are some exceptions to this. For more information for minors who want to change their name, see the following resource.

Web Independent Living
Children's Legal & Educational Resource Centre
English

How to apply for a legal name change

To apply for a legal name change, see the following resource.

Web Changing a Name | How it works
Government of Alberta
English
Also see “How to apply” on the right of the page.

A registry agent can provide forms and explain the steps. To find a registry agent near you, see the following resource.

Web Find a registry agent
Government of Alberta
English
Do children have a right to contact with other adults?

In Alberta, no one has the “right” to time with a child except for parents and guardians. And, children do not have a “right” to contact with other adults in their lives. However, a court may make an order that changes this. For example, a judge may order that a child gets 3 hours of “contact” with his or her grandmother once a week.

These decisions are based on the “best interests of the child.” For more information about that, see the section above called “The best interests of the child.”

It is often in the best interests of children to continue to have a relationship with other adults in their lives. Many people, such as grandparents, step-parents, aunts, uncles, and other loved ones, play important roles in a child’s life.

Sometimes, however, when parents separate or divorce, these people may no longer be allowed to spend time with the child. This is especially true in situations where there is a great deal of anger and conflict between the former partners/spouses. In such situations, these loved ones can apply to the court for permission to spend time with the child.

“Contact” is the term used to describe when a person who is not a guardian of a child wishes to spend time with the child. Having contact only gives that person the right to spend time with the child—it does not give that person the right to information about the child, or the right to make any decisions about the child (decision-making is what a guardian does).

For more information about applying for a contact order, see the Contact for Non-Guardians under the Family Law Act Information Page.

For more information for loved ones in this situation, see the Grandparents and Other Relatives Information Page.

For more information about parenting time and access, see the “Children’s rights when their parents are separating or divorcing” section above.

“Emancipation” and living independently in Alberta

Emancipation is not an option in Alberta

In some places, minors can apply to be “emancipated” from their parents or guardians. This means that they are no longer under their parents’ care and control, and are legally responsible for themselves. There is no such thing as “emancipation” in most of Canada, including Alberta.

Be Aware

Other provinces in Canada allow youths to become “emancipated minors.” Alberta does not.

In Alberta, if you are under 18, you must have a legal guardian. The only exceptions to this are if:

  • you are married; or
  • you are in an Adult Interdependent Relationship.

For more information about these options, see these sections below:

  • “Young people entering into Adult Interdependent Relationships”
  • “Young people getting married”
Be Aware

If you are under 18 years old, once you get married or become someone’s Adult Interdependent Partner, you become your own guardian. Your parents or previous guardians will no longer have the power to make decisions for you. They also will no longer be legally required to provide you with the “necessaries of life,” such as food and shelter. In other words, you will now have to make your own decisions and look after yourself. For more information about the role of a guardian, see the following resources.

Audio/Web Guardianship rights to a child
Calgary Legal Guidance
English

Web Guardianship
Children's Legal & Educational Resource Centre
English

Living independently

Even though it is not possible to be an “emancipated minor” in Alberta, young people between the ages of 16 and 18 have some additional options if they want to live independently.

See the following resources for information about things to consider if you leave home, including things like:

  • leases;
  • bank accounts;
  • rights at school; and
  • paying for bills and cell phones.
Web Independent Living
Children's Legal & Educational Resource Centre
English

Web School
Children's Legal & Educational Resource Centre
English

Web Tenant Lease and Landlord
Children's Legal & Educational Resource Centre
English

Web Youth FAQs – Family
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
See “How old do I have to be to leave home?”

Web What's the legal age to move out?
Kids Help Phone
English

Web Moving out: How to find a place to live
Kids Help Phone
English

PDF A Girl's Guide to Knowing Her Rights
YWCA Canada
English
See p. 10.

PDF Families and the Law: Young Parents
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
See p. 11.

Web When Things Go Wrong With Mobile Phones
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
Money & property rights of minors

Young people may have questions about their rights when it comes to money and owning property. This is especially true if they are old enough to work and make their own money. There are many legal considerations involved with this, including:

  • signing contracts and having “capacity”;
  • paying taxes;
  • bank accounts, savings, loans, and credit cards; and
  • inheriting money and property.

These topics are discussed in more detail below.

For general information about the property rights of minors, see the following resources.

Audio/Web Your liability to your children
Calgary Legal Guidance
English

Contracts and capacity (including lease agreements)

In general, minors are not considered to have the “capacity” to sign a contract. (Capacity is defined in the “What the words mean” section above.) However, there are exceptions for contracts that are for the “necessaries of life,” such as food, shelter, and health care. As a result, you may be able to sign a lease agreement even if you are a minor.

For other contracts, you may be able to sign them with the consent of your parents or guardians. This will depend on the exact situation.

For more information, see the following resources.

Web Tenant Lease and Landlord
Children's Legal & Educational Resource Centre
English

Web Youth FAQs – Family
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
See “How old do I have to be to rent my own apartment?”

Web Youth FAQs – Financial and Legal
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
See “How old do I have to be to enter into a contract?”

PDF Contract Law in Alberta
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web Young Persons and the Law
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Audio/Web Children and their property
Calgary Legal Guidance
English

Minors and taxes

If a minor is receiving income, he or she will likely need to file a tax return. To find out if you need to file a tax return, see the following resources.

Web Youth FAQs – Work
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web Do you have to file a return?
Government of Canada
English

Web Devez-vous produire une déclaration?
Government of Canada
French

Web Learning About Taxes
Government of Canada
English

Web Apprenons l'impôt
Government of Canada
French

Bank accounts, savings, loans, and credit cards

Minors may want to have a bank account of their own. This can help them to keep their money safe or to start saving for the future. They may also want to take out a loan or get a credit card.

For information about age limits and requirements for any of these, see the following resources.

Web Youth FAQs – Financial and Legal
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web Independent Living
Children's Legal & Educational Resource Centre
English

For detailed information about co-signing or guaranteeing a loan for a minor, see the Financial Issues Between Family Members Information Page.

Inheriting or winning money or property

Minors legally cannot take care of money or property on their own. As a result, a “trustee” is needed.

People may leave gifts to minors in their Wills. Often, the Will names a trustee. If the Will does not name a trustee, a parent may become the trustee. How it is treated will depend on the amount. It is also possible to ask the Court to appoint a trustee.

Web Assets of a minor
Government of Alberta
English

Web Can a minor inherit money or property?
Estate Law Canada
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.

Web At what age should children inherit money?
Estate Law Canada
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.

Web The Importance of Trusts in Wills for Minor Beneficiaries
Kahane Law Office
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.

Web Young Persons and the Law
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
See “Other situations.”

Web Assets of a minor
Government of Alberta
English

A trustee would also be needed if the child won money. For example, if a lottery ticket was bought in the name of a child. For more information, see the following resource.

Web Windfalls
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
Young people being common-law partners under federal law

Under federal law, people over age 18 become “common-law partners” (also called “unmarried spouses”) after one year of living together in a romantic (or “conjugal”) relationship. You also become common-law partners when you have a child together (including adopting a child together), even if you have been living together for less than a year. As a result, for federal purposes (such as filing taxes), your “marital status” becomes “common-law.” This happens no matter where you live in Canada.

Be Aware

The Indian Act and the Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act are different. For those, you only become “common-law partners” after one year of living together in a romantic (or “conjugal”) relationship. Even if you have a child during that year, you are not “common-law partners” until that year has passed.

In some cases, it is also possible for people under the age of 18 to be considered common-law partners, and to have the rights that come with being a common-law partner.

For example: under tax law, if 2 partners aged 16 or older:

  • live together in a conjugal relationship,
  • have a child, and
  • pay taxes,

they could be considered common law partners.

Similarly, Statistics Canada recognizes the possibility of common-law status in people as young as age 15. For more information about that, see the following resource.

Web Apply to sponsor your spouse, partner or children
Government of Canada
English

However, for other federal purposes, to be given the rights associated with common-law status, you must still be at least 18 years old. For example, to sponsor a common-law partner to immigrate to Canada, both you and your partner must be at least 18 years old. For more information about that, see the following resources.

Web Apply to sponsor your spouse, partner or children
Government of Canada
English



As a result, if you are under age 18 and you want to know whether certain common-law rights apply to you, contact the specific department of the federal government related to the issue.

Web Departments and agencies
Government of Canada
English

Web Ministères et organismes
Government of Canada
French

For more information about what it means to have common-law status, see the “Common law partners under federal law” section of the Living Together: Common-law Partnerships & Adult Interdependent Relationships Information Page.

Young people entering into Adult Interdependent Relationships

Sometimes, minors may move in with a partner and live together in a committed relationship. In Alberta law, these sorts of relationships are called “Adult Interdependent Relationships.”

However, you cannot enter into one of these relationships by simply moving in together. Instead, there are 3 different ways to become an Adult Interdependent Partner, which are described just below.

Becoming an Adult Interdependent Partner is one way that you become your own guardian. (The other way is getting married—there is more information about that in the “Young people getting married” section below.)

This is a serious legal step with major consequences for minors. For example, if you become your own guardian, your parents or previous guardians will no longer have the power to make decisions for you. They also will no longer be legally required to provide you with the “necessaries of life,” such as food and shelter. In other words, you will now have to make your own decisions and look after yourself. For more information about the role of a guardian, see the following resources.

Audio/Web Guardianship rights to a child
Calgary Legal Guidance
English

Web Guardianship
Children's Legal & Educational Resource Centre
English

For more information about your rights and responsibilities as an Adult Interdependent Partner, see the Living Together: Common-law Partnerships & Adult Interdependent Relationships Information Page.

What is an Adult Interdependent Relationship?

“Adult Interdependent Partner” is the term used in Alberta to describe what many people might think of as a “common-law” partner. However, they are not the same thing:

  • in Alberta, you are not automatically “Adult Interdependent Partners” after living together for one year; and
  • Adult Interdependent Relationships, unlike federal “common-law” relationships or other provinces’ laws about living together, can occur in non-romantic (in other words, non-conjugal) situations.

How does it happen?

In order to be in an Adult Interdependent Relationship (AIR), you must have been living with and in a relationship of interdependence with another person:

  • for 3 years; or
  • for less than 3 years if you have signed an Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement; or
  • for less than 3 years if you have a child together (by birth or adoption).

A “relationship of interdependence” is a relationship where the partners are not married but they:

  • share one another’s lives;
  • are emotionally committed to one another; and
  • function as an economic and domestic unit.

In other words:

  • If you live together for 3 years (without having or adopting a child or signing an Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement), you will be in an AIR when you reach the third anniversary of moving in together (whether you want to be or not).
  • If you have or adopt a child together, you automatically become Adult Interdependent Partners upon the birth or formal adoption, no matter how long you have lived together.
  • If you sign an Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement (AIPA), you become Adult Interdependent Partners as soon as it is completely signed and witnessed, no matter how long you have lived together. However, you cannot sign an AIPA if you are a minor, unless you are 16 or over and have your guardians’ consent.

An Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement is a written and signed contract. That contract must be in the form required by the Alberta Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement Regulation.

Remember

You cannot sign an AIPA if you are a minor, unless you are 16 or over and have your guardians’ consent.

For information on how to complete an AIPA, see the Process tab of the Living Together: Common-law Partnerships & Adult Interdependent Relationships Information Page.

Limitations on who can be in an AIR

In addition to meeting the requirements above for Adult Interdependent Partners, there are some limitations on who can be in an AIR.

For example:

  • You cannot become the Adult Interdependent Partner of someone if you are related by blood or adoption, unless you sign an Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement with him or her.
  • You cannot be in an Adult Interdependent Relationship with 2 different people at the same time. In other words: you cannot have more than one Adult Interdependent Partner at a time.
  • You cannot sign an Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement with someone if you are married to another person. However, if you are separated from your married spouse, you could become the Adult Interdependent Partner of another person in one of the other two ways (living together for 3 years, or having or adopting a child together). In this case, you would have both a “spouse” and an “AIP.” For more information about what counts as being “separated” from your spouse, see the Ending a Married Relationship under the Divorce Act Information Page.

More information

For more information about living together and Adult Interdependent Relationships, see the following Information Pages:

Young people getting married

Sometimes, minors may decide to get married. Being married is one way that you become your own guardian. (The other way is becoming Adult Interdependent Partners—there is more information about that in the “Young people entering into Adult Interdependent Relationships” section above.)

This is a serious legal step with major consequences for minors. For example, if you become your own guardian, your parents or previous guardians will no longer have the power to make decisions for you. They also will no longer be legally required to provide you with the “necessaries of life,” such as food and shelter. In other words, you will now have to make your own decisions and look after yourself. For more information about the role of a guardian, see the following resources.

Audio/Web Guardianship rights to a child
Calgary Legal Guidance
English

Web Guardianship
Children's Legal & Educational Resource Centre
English

In Canada, no one under the age of 16 years old can get married.

In Alberta, generally you must be at least 18 years old to get married. This is the age where you are considered an adult. It is also called the “age of majority.” If you are over 18 years old, you do not need permission from your parents or guardians to get married.

If you are between 16 and 18 years old, you may be able to get married in Alberta. You will need to get written permission from all of your parents or guardians. Under certain conditions, however, you may only need the permission of one guardian. To find out the exact permission required for your situation, contact a registry agent. To find a registry agent near you, see the following resource.

Web Find a registry agent
Government of Alberta
English
Be Aware

The age of majority is different for different provinces. You may be able to get married in one province without anyone’s consent but not another. Always check the law for the province you want to get married in.

For more detailed information on getting married if you are under 18 years old, see the following resources.

Audio/Web Young persons getting married
Calgary Legal Guidance
English

Web Youth FAQs – Family
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
See “How old do I have to be to get married?”

Web Forced Marriage
Children's Legal & Educational Resource Centre
English

Getting married is a serious legal step that has many consequences for the people involved.

See the Getting Married Information Page for more information about:

  • the rights and responsibilities of married spouses; and
  • the process to get married in Alberta.
Underage pregnancy & underage parents

Pregnancy

If you are a minor and you think you might be pregnant and are wondering what to do, see the following resources.


Web Am I Pregnant?
Calgary Sexual Health Centre
English

Web Pregnancy
Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights
English

Web Grossesse
Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights
French

If a minor becomes pregnant, she may have questions about:

  • what her rights are for medical matters;
  • whether her parents need to know about the pregnancy; and
  • her options, such as abortion, placing the child for adoption, or raising the child.

The father may also have questions about his rights on these matters.

For information about these topics, see the following resources.

Web Teen Pregnancy and Child Support
Children's Legal & Educational Resource Centre
English

Web Youth FAQs - Health & Medical
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

PDF Families and the Law: Young Parents
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English


PDF Parenting Plan Workbook
Government of Saskatchewan
English
See p. 2-5.

PDF Abortion and the Mature Minor
Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada
English

PDF Frequently Asked Questions: Consent and Minors
Alberta Health Services
English

For detailed information about pregnancy and birth in Alberta, including abortion and adoption, see the Pregnancy & Birth Information Page.

Underage parents

If an underage mother decides to keep the child, she and the father may have questions about:

  • paternity tests;
  • who to name as a father on the birth certificate;
  • who will be a guardian of the child;
  • choosing a name for the child;
  • parenting time and access; and/or
  • child support.

For information about all of these topics, see the following resources.

PDF Families and the Law: Young Parents
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web Teen Pregnancy and Child Support
Children's Legal & Educational Resource Centre
English

PDF Parenting Plan Workbook
Government of Saskatchewan
English
See p. 5-11.

Web Teen parenting: Important things to know
Kids Help Phone
English

Underage parents may also have question about whether having a child makes them their own guardians. This is not the case. If you are under 18 years old, you do not automatically become your own guardian after having your own child. The only way you can become your own guardian is if you get married or enter into an Adult Interdependent Relationship with your partner. If you are living with the other biological parent when the child is born, you and your partner will automatically become common-law partners under federal law, and Adult Interdependent Partners under Alberta law. For more information about what this means, see the sections above called “Young people becoming common-law partners” and “Young people entering into Adult Interdependent Relationships.”

For detailed information about having a child in Alberta, see the following Information Pages:

Resources to help

See the following resources for places that can help with pregnancy matters.

Web Find a Centre
Canadian Association of Pregnancy Support Services
English

Web Find A Service Provider
Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights
English

Web Birth & Babies
Alberta Health Services
English

There is also detailed information on the Pregnancy & Birth Information Page.

See the following resources for places that can help young parents.

Web Birth & Babies
Alberta Health Services
English

Web Programs & Services for Teen Parents
Terra Centre
English

Web Programs
Society for Support to Pregnant & Parenting Teens
English

There is also detailed information about being a parent on the Having a Child Information Page.

Rights of children who were adopted

Adoption is a legal process in which the legal rights and duties of one person or couple toward a child are ended, and are permanently transferred to another person or couple who become the adoptive parents.

Adoptive parents have all the legal rights and responsibilities a parent can have toward a child. Legally they are no treated no differently than any other kind of parent. After an adoption, the child’s birth certificate is changed so that the adoptive parents are listed as the child’s parents.

The adopted person becomes a member of a new family just as if they had been born in that family. As a result, an adopted person is not allowed to marry a member of their adoptive family, just the same as they are not allowed to marry a member of their birth family.

For detailed information about what adoption is and the process to adopt, see the Adopting a Child Information Page.

Consenting to be adopted

Any person who wants to adopt a child must apply to the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench for an Adoption Order. The adoption application must have the consent of:

  • all the guardians of the child; and
  • the child, if he or she is 12 years or older.

The Court may order that any of these consents is not required. The applicant must provide evidence that there is a good reason to do this.

For more information about the adoption process, see the Adopting a Child Information Page.

Finding information about your birth family

Adopted children often have questions about who their birth parents are, and may want to get in touch with their birth families.

If you were adopted in Alberta and you are under 18 years old, you cannot request information about your birth parents. Your adoptive parents may have some information they can share with you, or they may not.

If you were adopted as a child in Alberta and are now over 18 years old, you can file a Request for Release of Adoption Information with the Post-Adoption Registry. You may be able to get identifying information about your biological parent if:

  • you were adopted before January 1, 2005, and your birth parent did not place a disclosure veto on the file; or
  • you were adopted after January 1, 2005.

No matter when you were adopted, you can get some non-identifying information from the adoption record.

Identifying information may include:

  • names;
  • ages;
  • date of birth; and
  • place of birth.

Non-identifying information may include:

  • province of birth;
  • marital status;
  • occupation;
  • education level;
  • physical description;
  • personality and interests of the birth parents; and
  • medical history of the family.

However, getting identifying information does not mean that you will be reunited. Once you have the information, you have to decide what to do with it.

For more information about your rights as an adopted child, see the following resource.

Web Adoption
Children's Legal & Educational Resource Centre
English

For detailed information about requesting adoption records and connecting with a biological parent, see the Adopting a Child Information Page.

Rights of children in foster care

Children who are in government care (foster care) have additional rights to make sure that they are well cared for.

For information about the rights of children in care, see the following resources.

Web What are my rights?
Office of the Child and Youth Advocate
English

PDF Children Have Rights
Office of the Child and Youth Advocate
English

Web Living in care: Adjusting to a foster home
Kids Help Phone
English

Video Children's Rights in a Foster Home
Native Counselling Services of Alberta (via YouTube)
English

Web What Youth Want To Know
Canadian Child Welfare Research Portal
English

Web Foster Parents: Resources
Government of Alberta
English
See p. 21-22 and p. 40-43 of the Foster Care Handbook.

Video Your Voice Counts: Children and Youth Appealing a Court Order (Alberta)
Native Counselling Services of Alberta (via YouTube)
English

PDF Enhancement Policy Manual
Government of Alberta
English
Rights of children who were conceived with assisted reproduction

“Assisted reproduction” refers to procedures and treatments used to help people make (or “conceive”) a baby. This can involve using the parents’ own sperm and eggs. Or, people who want to become parents may use sperm, eggs, or embryos from a donor to make a baby. People can also use a “surrogate,” who is a woman who carries the baby before birth but does not intend to be the child’s parent. The surrogate then gives the baby to the intended parents once it is born.

A child who is born with the help of a donor may have questions about what “rights” they have related to this process. For example:

  • Does the child have the right to know the donor’s medical history, family history, or identity?
  • Does the child have the right to know about any siblings he or she may have?
  • Does the child have the right to have contact with the donor?
  • Does the child have the right to child support from the donor?

The answers to these questions will vary, depending on the circumstances. Continue reading this section for more information.

Knowing the donor’s medical history, family history, or identity

Unknown donors

Generally, when people use sperm, eggs, or embryos from an unknown donor, they come from a clinic or an organization.

These clinics and organizations may have rules about how much information is shared with the intended parents. Often, medical and family history is collected and shared with the intended parents (but not necessarily).

There may also be rules about sharing the donor’s identity. Some clinics require that the donor’s identity be shared. Others may give donors a choice about how much information to give. For example:

  • The donor can be “anonymous,” which means that the identity of the donor is never known (this is called a “closed ID” donor).
  • The donor can give their identity from the beginning (this is called an “open ID” donor).
  • The donor can agree to release their identity after the child becomes an adult (this is called an “identity release” donor).

In some countries, donor-conceived children have a right to know the identity of the donor their parents used to conceive them. Right now, this is not the law in Canada. In addition, in British Columbia, a court even decided that the donor has a right to remain anonymous, and that the donor-conceived child did not have a right to know her donor’s identity. To read this case, see the following resource.

Known donors

Sometimes, intended parents already know the donor. As a result, the child conceived from a known donor usually has access to certain information, such as detailed medical or family history. However, it is up to the parents to decide whether the child knows the identity of the donor. As described above, in Canada, children do not currently have a right to know the identity of their donors.

More information

For more information on finding out about donors, see the following resources.

Web Find information about a donor
Government of Canada
English




Contact with a donor, or child support from a donor

In Alberta, simply donating sperm, eggs, or embryos does not automatically make the donor a “parent” of the child. In other words:

  • a donor is not automatically a guardian; and
  • a child does not automatically have a right to support from a donor.

However, this does not mean that a donor can never be “parent,” or that a donor-conceived child will never be considered a “child” of the donor. A judge may still find a donor to be the parent of the child if he or she is behaving like a parent toward the child. This is true whether the donor was known or unknown. An example of behaving like a parent to the child may be if the donor is living with, and in a relationship with, a parent of the child.

Sometimes, known donors maintain a close relationship with the parents and the child after he or she is born. A close relationship between a donor and a child will not normally make the donor legally or financially responsible for the child.

If there is some confusion as to whether the donor has been behaving like a parent to a child, a judge would likely consider what is in the “best interests of the child” to determine if the donor has any parenting rights and responsibilities. See the section called “The best interests of the child” above for more information about this.

Determining that a donor is a parent to a child would be difficult and would require a very close parent-like relationship. You may want to talk to a lawyer about this. For more information, see the following resource.

Web Ask a Lawyer your Question
Children's Legal & Educational Resource Centre
English

Knowing other donor-conceived siblings

In Canada, donor-conceived children currently do not have a “right” to know about any other donor-conceived siblings. However, this does not mean that it is never possible to know about any such siblings.

If the donor was known, the parents may already have this information.

If the donor was unknown, clinics sometimes have this information. Depending on where the intended parents got the reproductive materials or embryo, there may be the option to connect with other families who used the same donor(s). This option is usually called a “sibling registry.” There is also an international Donor Sibling Registry that you can sign up for to try to find siblings.

Sometimes donors, children, siblings, or parents can also voluntarily sign up with a registry. Registries allow people involved in making a donor-conceived child and children to connect with each other. Because the process is completely voluntary, there is no guarantee that you will find someone you are looking for.

For more information on donor sibling registries, see the following resources.

Web The Donor Sibling Registry
The Donor Sibling Registry
English

Web ReproMed Sibling Registry
ReproMed
English
Rights of children involved with the criminal justice system

Minors between the age of 12 and 18 who are involved in the criminal justice system have specific rights under Canada’s Youth Criminal Justice Act. This law holds minors accountable for crimes they commit. However, the law recognizes that minors are not as mature as adults and should not be treated in exactly the same way under the law. When a judge is giving a sentence to a youth who committed a crime, he or she will prefer a sentence that helps the youth stay involved in society and stay away from criminal activity. Also, the law often protects the identity of the youth that was charged.

For more information about the Youth Criminal Justice Act, see the following resources.

Video Youth Criminal Justice Act In Action
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) FAQs: Introduction
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web Youth FAQs – Criminal
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web Has your child been charged with a crime? (Fact sheet)
Community Legal Education Ontario
Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Somali, Spanish, Tamil, Urdu
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Web Topic 3: Overview of the YCJA
Justice Education Society
English

Web Explore the YCJA: Learning for Youth
Justice Education Society
English

Web Youth Criminal Justice Act
The Canadian Encyclopedia
English



Web Youth Justice: Educational Tools
Government of Canada
English, Inuinnaqtun, Inuktitut, Spanish

Web Justice pour les jeunes : Outils pédagogiques
Government of Canada
French

Web Youth Court - Frequent Questions
Government of Alberta
English

Web Youth Criminal Law
Legal Aid Alberta
English

PDF Criminal Law in Alberta: Legal Information for Frontline Service Providers
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
See p. 16-17.

Web Age of Criminal Responsibility: An illusive dilemma
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
This resource can be a challenge to read. Learn more here.

Children who are younger than 12 years old are not dealt with under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Alberta's Child and Family Services deals with those youth. See the following resources for more information.

Web Youth FAQs – Criminal
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web Youth Court - Frequent Questions
Government of Alberta
English
Rights of Aboriginal children

All of the rights described on this Information Page apply to Aboriginal children. However, Aboriginal children have some additional considerations under the law.

The “best interests of the child”: Aboriginal considerations

Whenever the law makes a decision about a child, it must apply the “best interests of the child” legal test.

In addition to this, whenever an Aboriginal child is involved with the law, the people involved must keep in mind the unique character of Aboriginal culture, heritage, spirituality, and traditions. This means that they must consider how the child’s cultural identity will be protected.

For more information about the best interests of the child in an Aboriginal context, see the following resources.

Web The Best Interests of the Aboriginal Child
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

PDF Aboriginal Parenting After Separation (Handbook)
Justice Education Society
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here. See p. 40-41.

Indian Status

Children with registered Indian Status are entitled to additional government services and recognition of certain cultural practices. For more information about the rights of Aboriginal people with registered Indian Status, see the following resources.

PDF Parenting Plan Workbook
Government of Saskatchewan
English
See p. 8-9.




Web The Charter and Aboriginal Peoples
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Aboriginal heritage in determining custody, parenting time, and access

When an Aboriginal child’s parents separate, they will need to figure out a parenting plan that properly considers the child’s cultural needs.

Whether Aboriginal children live on-reserve or off-reserve, heritage and cultural considerations are very important in determining the best interests of the child. This means that Aboriginal children have the right to stay connected to their heritage and culture. Naturally, if the matter goes to court, this can affect the parenting time that court might give. The Court may even decide to give contact to a third party, such as an elder or another family member, because that person will keep the child in touch with his or her heritage and culture.

In addition, when the child lives on-reserve, a band council may restrict a non-band member from coming on-reserve to see the child.

For more information about these considerations, see the following Information Pages:

Adoption of an Aboriginal child

Much of the law around adoption in Alberta is the same for Aboriginal families as for other families.

However, there are concerns that Aboriginal children should stay connected to their culture. As a result, Alberta’s Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act has some specific rules about the adoption of Aboriginal children. These include:

  • adoptive parents are required to include a “cultural connection plan” if they are not members of the child’s band; and
  • an assigned member of the child’s band may need to be involved with the adoption process.

For more detailed information about this, see the Adopting a Child Information Page.

Aboriginal children involved with Child and Family Services

When it is not safe for a child to stay in his or her home, Child and Family Services may place the child in another home.

  • Kinship care is when the child is placed with relatives or close family friends.
  • Foster care is when the child is placed with temporary caregivers who the child does not know.

When an Aboriginal child is involved with Child and Family Services, there are additional considerations to make sure that his or her cultural needs are met. See the following resources for more information.

Web The law and welfare of children
Native Counselling Services of Alberta
English


PDF Aboriginal Children in Care: Report to Canada's Premiers
The Council of the Federation
English
This resource can be a challenge to read. Learn more here.

For places that can help Aboriginal foster children and foster families, see the following resources.

Web Contact Native Counselling Services of Alberta
Native Counselling Services of Alberta
English

Web Friendship Centres
National Association of Friendship Centres
English

Web Delegated First Nations Agencies
Government of Alberta
English

PDF Delegated First Nation Agencies map
Government of Alberta
English

For more information about kinship care and foster care in Alberta, see the Caring for a Child: Caregivers, Foster Care, & Kinship Care Information Page.

Rights of LGBTQ youth

Young people may have many questions about their sexuality as they grow up. This may include questions about their sexual orientation and gender identity. The term often used to describe these topics is “LGBTQ,” which are the initials of the words: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (or Questioning).

LGBTQ rights in Canada

People who are LGBTQ are protected from discrimination in Canada. For more information about these protections, see the following resources.

Web LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) Rights in Canada
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web Equality Rights for Transgender Individuals in Canada
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

PDF Human rights in Alberta
Government of Alberta
English


Web Sexual orientation
Government of Alberta
English

LGBTQ rights in school

The Minister of Education in Alberta recently introduced guidelines for Alberta schools to be more inclusive of students’ sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions. To learn more about these guidelines, see the following resources.



Web FACT PAGE | Trans inclusion in Alberta schools
Trans Equality Society of Alberta
English

As these guidelines are still quite new, some schools have not made any changes yet. There have also been some schools that are refusing to make changes, based on religious beliefs. To learn more about this and what you can do if you feel you are not being treated fairly at school, see the following resources.



Transgender rights and changing your gender on your birth certificate

People who are transgender may have some additional challenges when having the law recognize their gender. For more information about this, see the following resources.

Web Transgender youth: Everyday items, everyday rights
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

The Alberta Government has recently made changes to the law so that transgender people can change the sex listed on their birth certificate and other legal documents. If you are under 18, you will likely need your parents’ and guardians’ consent to make these changes. For more information, see the following resources.

Web Updating driving documents: Change sex information
Government of Alberta
English




Web Changing Genders: A Guide to Paperwork
McLean Clinic
English
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The Alberta government is also discussing adding a third gender option on birth certificates for people who do not identify as male or female. This proposal is called the Vital Statistics and Life Events Modernization Act. It is not yet law. See the following resources for more information about the status of this law.

Web Modern vital statistics for today's Alberta
Government of Alberta
English


Web Vital Statistics and Life Events Modernization Act
Government of Alberta
English

Resources that can help

For people and places that can help LGBTQ youth, see the following resources.

Web Youthsafe
Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre
English

Web Resources
Pride Centre of Edmonton
English

Web LGBTQ-friendly Crisis Lines
University of British Columbia
English

Web LGBT Resources
Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre
English

For websites and books for LGBTQ youth and about inclusiveness, see the following resources.

Web Explore: Transgender Children & Youth
Human Rights Campaign
English

Web LGBTQA
Children's Legal & Educational Resource Centre
English

Book Diverse Books For Your School
Human Rights Campaign
English
Rights of children without legal immigration status

Children who do not have legal status in Canada can still attend school. For more information, see the following resources.


Process

There is no specific “process” to follow regarding children’s rights in Alberta. See the Law tab of this Information Page for details about what the law says.

There are people and places that can help minors deal with their legal issues. They may be able to:

  • give you support and guidance;
  • give you legal advice; or
  • represent you in court.

For more information, see the following resources.

Web Ask a Lawyer your Question
Children's Legal & Educational Resource Centre
English

Web OCYA Information for Children & Youth
Office of the Child and Youth Advocate
English
Last Reviewed: May 2017

Provincial Court

Queen's Bench

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