Custody & Access / Parenting
Child Custody is a legal authority to make decisions on behalf of a child whose parents do not have a strong relationship. In some cases, the decision to custody of a child may be settled by the parents at the time of the divorce. In that case, it is important for the couple to make sure that their agreement is properly stated in the legally binding agreement.
When parents are going through a separation or divorce, some of the most difficult decisions that need to be made are those concerning the children. Who will the children live with? Who will have child custody? What happens if the parents cannot agree?
Law Wise Family Lawyers are experienced in answering these and other difficult questions regarding the impact of separation and divorce on children.
We strive to help clients arrive at parenting arrangements that will place the children’s best interests first. If needed, family lawyers or mediators are present to assist them in decision making, failing which the Court steps in to officiate. The court considers among other factors:
∎ Wants of a child (if the child is old enough to express his wishes and preferences reasonably)
∎ Parents’ physical and mental health
∎ Cultural and religious considerations
∎ Presence and continuity of a stable home atmosphere
∎ Child’s sex and age
∎ Child’ level of adjustment in community and school
Ontario family law recognizes that children often benefit from having maximum contact with both parents. Where appropriate, parents should share in the parenting decisions related to their children, as well as the time spent with their children.
Decisions made by parents about health, education, religion, and major recreational activities for their children refer to Child Custody. Child Custody has different forms including sole child custody, joint child custody and parallel parenting.
Child Access is the actual time spent by children and parents together. It has various forms like common residency schedules and shared parenting plans. In common residency schedules, child stays with one parent in the primary residence while the other parent has visitation rights at the scheduled times to foster her or his relationship with the child through “child access.” This term simply refers to the time that the other parent will spend with their child.
Shared parenting plans has weekly segregations as both parents are sharing responsibility for the parenting of the children.
How Important is Communication Between the Parents
Clear communication with your spouse is essential for managing your children in a joint custody arrangement. In the majority of cases where abrasive communication is present, and no meaningful exchange is taking place between the parents, the court usually prefers awarding sole custody even in the joint custody situation.
Joint child custody can be allowed only for couples who have a history of appropriate communication. A detailed written post-separation or parenting plan can help in managing any gaps in the child custody situations or communication issues. Communication is extremely vital when the children are younger in age.
Mobility & Travel With A Child
Travel and relocation can happen due to a career change, personal issues or change in relationship status. Moving with children after a divorce or a separation can be complicated and be a reason for litigation if not handled well. If one parent does not provide consent for traveling, the other parent is at liberty to apply for a court order granting the permission to travel.
In the event of a separation or divorce, a parenting plans is used to define and detail the manner in which parents raise, look after and shape their children’s future.
The format of the parenting plan should be clear with an aim to reduce any future disputes or disagreements between divorced or separated parents. It is advisable that both parents cooperate with respect to these issues in order to avoid conflict.
The parenting plan can be an informal document where parents may choose to deal with issues as they arise. Or they may want to decide all child-related issues in writing and in specific detail, so as to avoid future disagreement or disputes.
Informal parenting plans, especially those based on verbal agreements or understandings can be impossible to enforce in the future, if there is disagreement.
Parenting plan disputes can be resolved through mediation, arbitration or negotiation between party’s family lawyers. If neither one of these works, or is consented to, then the parent seeking a resolution may have no option but to litigate the matter at court by commencing a contested Application. The latter is by far the most expensive and least practical option.
What to consider in Parenting Plans:
The parenting plans prioritizes the children’s best interests. A judge may also consider some of the following factors when deciding on the parenting plan:
∎ The love and affection of each parent and the child, as well as the child’s relationship with the other parent;
∎ Preferences of the child, where these can be reasonably determined;
∎ Duration and stability of the child’s home atmosphere;
∎ The ability of either parent to provide the child with basic education, necessities, and other needs;
∎ Special needs requirements of a child, where applicable, as well as the cost associated with same;
∎ Proposed parenting plan of each parent;
∎ Each parent’s home dynamics, stability and permanence, etc.
Your family lawyer in Mississauga will help in making effective representation for custody & Access /parenting disputes.