A Child Support Lawyer can help you to determine the best custody arrangement for your children.
Helping You Get the Best for Your Children
Going through a separation can be incredibly difficult, especially when children are involved. Everyone wants the best for their children, but what if you and your former partner don’t agree on custody arrangements?
When determining which parent should be granted child custody, courts will look at what is in the children’s “best interests”. Factors include the children’s physical and emotional well-being and security; plans for education and maintenance; financial needs; religious upbringing; the possibility of keeping siblings together; the bond between the children and parents; and the children’s wishes (this factor will increase in importance with the children’s age). As each case is fact specific, it is best to obtain legal advice from a Toronto Family Lawyer right from the start about your rights and chances of obtaining custody.
Developing a Child Custody Plan
In order to act in their children’s best interests, many parents will develop a custody and parenting plan in conjunction with their child custody lawyer to demonstrate how they will raise them. The ideal scenario is where both parents can communicate well enough to negotiate such a plan together. This will minimize conflict, as well as minimize court and legal costs.
Child custody and parenting plans can be negotiated by the parties alone, by their individual lawyers, or collaborative law. The plan can then be incorporated into a separation agreement and will become part of the binding contract. If a parent breaches this plan, they are in breach of the agreement and the other parent may take steps to have the agreement enforced.
Sole Custody vs. Joint Custody
In the legal context, custody refers to the rights and responsibilities of the parents to make major decisions for their children. This includes decisions concerning education, religion, and non-emergency healthcare.
Sole custody means that only one parent will make the major decisions for the children, and in most cases the children will primarily reside with this parent. The access parent (non-custodial) will still have a right to make inquiries about their children and obtain information concerning their education, health, and welfare, as well as give input, but they are not involved in the major decision making and responsibilities.
Joint custody means that both parents jointly make the major decisions relating to their children’s education, religion, and health. Arrangements for physical residence can vary with joint custody, anywhere from one parent having primary residence, to the child dividing his/her time equally between both parents (Shared Custody).
It is important to note that unless both parties agree to joint custody, a court will not usually make such an order. The parents need to be able to communicate well enough with each other to make and agree on the major decisions.
With a shared custody arrangement, the children live with each parent approximately 50% of the time. Generally, it is negotiated using collaborative law. When both parents agree to work together, to raise their children. This custody arrangement would require a joint custody agreement to be in place for making major decisions.
Shared custody usually requires the parents to live in the same geographical region to give their children easy access to their school and friends. This kind of custody requires extensive scheduling and teamwork, which needs to be worked out before the custody is finalized. Shared custody can also greatly impact the level of child support paid by one of the parents.
Child Custody Access, Visitations, and Mobility Rights
Even if one parent is awarded sole custody, the other has a right to ongoing contact with the children unless access is denied by the court. The non-custodial parent is entitled to know about educational or medical decisions relating to their children, as well as have input into important decisions respecting the children, even though the final say lies with the custodial parent. A child always has the right to see their non-custodial parent.
In the event that the custodial parent wishes to move to another province or country, cutting off full access to the non-custodial parent, they will have to prove to the court that the move is in the best interests of the children. They also must come up with an alternative custody plan that still allows the non-custodial parent access to their children. Moving to another jurisdiction is a complex issue and we recommend making an appointment with our office for a consultation.
If you’re worried about child custody and access, you need a family lawyer in Toronto who is experienced and knowledgeable about child custody laws and family law rules. Elinor Shinehoft and her legal team are here to help you navigate this important issue. We have helped numerous clients manage all aspects of their separation, including child custody, child support, and spousal support.
Elinor is an experienced child custody lawyer in Ontario, and will help guide you through all the legal ins and outs, helping you reach the best possible child custody arrangements for you and your children.