Custody & Access
When parents separate, they need to decide how they will take care of their children. They have to make important decisions about things like:
a) Where will the child live?
b) How will the parents make major decisions about how to care for and how to raise the child?
c) How much time with each parent spend with the child?
d) What role will each parent have in caring for the child?
These issues are referred to as custody and access.
Some children of separated parents live principally with one parent and some divide their time between their parents.
A child's living arrangements must be based on what is in the child's best interests.
Custody is the right to make important decisions about how to care for and raise a child. For example, parents with custody can make decisions on their child's:
b) religion; and
c) health care.
Custody is not about which parent the child lives with or how much time a child spends with each parent. For example, even if only one parent has custody, the child might spend equal time living with each parent or the child might live mainly with one parent, but both parents have custody and share decision making.
Sole custody means that one parent makes all of the important decisions about the child. Sometimes the parent with sole custody must talk to the other parent before making the decision, but the other parent does not have to agree with the decision.
Joint custody means that both parents must agree on major decisions that affect their child. One parent cannot decide these things without the other parent agreeing to it.
Joint custody works best when parents have similar views about how to raise their child. Joint custody requires cooperation.
Sometimes parents with joint custody divide the decision making. For example, one parent makes a decision about the child's health care, while the other parent makes decisions about the child's education. This is also known as parallel parenting.
When a child lives mainly with one parent, the child and the other parent usually have the right to spend time together. This is called access.
A parent with access also has the right to ask for, and get, information about their child's health, education and well-being from the other parent.
Child support does not affect a parent's right to access. Access and child support are separate legal issues. A parent cannot be denied access because he or she has not paid child support and a parent might still have to pay child support even if he or she does not have access.
Usually it is the child's parents who get custody or access but, in some cases, other people may get custody or access, such as a step-parent, grandparent or other relative. Or it could be someone outside of the family who has a close relationship with the child.
If parents cannot agree on issues relating to custody and access, it is sometimes necessary to go to Court.
Judges will decided custody and access using a legal test called the best interests of the child.
Judges usually assume that it is better for a child to have a relationship with both parents. Some of the factors Judges look at are:
a) the relationship between each parent and the child;
b) the emotional ties between each parent and the child;
c) how long the child has lived in a stable environment;
d) each parent's plan for the child's care and up-bringing;
e) each parent's ability to care for the child;
f) in some cases, the child's views and wishes; and
g) if there has been any violence or abuse against any family member or any child.
Please contact Genesee Martin Associates should you require assistance with respect to custody or access of your child or children. Christopher R. Martin has extensive experience in successfully representing clients with respect to custody and access issues through negotiation and before the Courts.
Regardless of which areas of family law you are looking for assistance with, Chris will help you secure the best possible outcome for your case and for your family.
For over 40 years Genesee Martin have been helping their valued clients fight for their rights. If you want to schedule a confidential consultation, you can get in touch with Genesee Martin Associates today at 905-522-7066.