What Is Custody?
Quite simply, custody is the right to make decisions about the care and upbringing of your child. Whenever two people have a child together, they both become responsible for that child’s life. Each parent has an important say when it comes to making choices and decisions that impact the child, like how it’s raised, medical decisions, religion, schooling and so on. Both parents have equal rights, regardless of whether or not they’re married to each other.
Normally, in situations where both parents are married to each other, or raising the child together, they share the decision-making between them. However, when the parents separate it is important that they decide and establish how they’ll share the decision making and care of the child. Parents who split up must make clear arrangements for the child’s custody.
If you are thinking about getting a divorce, it’s crucial that you meet with a skilled child custody lawyer who specializes in family and child custody law, like De Rose, to make sure your custody rights are protected.
What Is Sole Custody?
If you’re wondering, “what does having full custody of a child mean?” it is sole custody. If one parent has sole custody of a child, it means that only one parent has the responsibility of and the authority over the child. This parent, and only this parent, has the legal right to make all major choices for the child’s care and upbringing.
In sole custody cases, the child normally lives with this parent full-time. It is very unlikely for a court to grant sole custody to one parent unless the other parent has displayed a serious cause for concern over abuse, violence, drug or alcohol use, poor judgement or severe mental illness.
What Is Joint Custody?
Joint custody is the most common form of custody granted. If you’re wondering how joint custody works, this is when both parents share authority or responsibility over the child, even if they live apart. Legally, both parents have an equal say over major decisions about the child’s upbringing or care.
In cases of joint custody, it has been decided that both parents agree about how they want the child raised. Moreover, decision-making can be reached amicably amongst themselves. It requires constant cooperation between both parents in order to work out and each party must be able to resolve conflict peacefully.
Just because you have a joint custody agreement, doesn’t mean that each parent will get equal time with the child. They may decide to share equal time between each parent, but in many cases, the child lives primarily with one parent. Joint custody refers only to decision-making authority and not the time spent between each parent.
What Is Shared Custody?
Shared custody works a little bit different than other forms of custody, as it relates to how much time the child spends with each parent. Shared custody determines each parent’s child support obligation. Shared custody exists where the child spends at least 40% of their time with each parent, living there. This time can be comprised of overnights, weekends, and parts of vacation.
Split custody is a less common form of custody. It occurs when parents have more than one child together, and each parent has one or more child that lives with them primarily.
What Is Access?
Access occurs after one parent has been granted sole custody of the child. The other parent than gets granted the right of access, sometimes called visitation. This also occurs when both parents have joint custody of a child, but the child spends the majority of their time living with one parent.
A standard access schedule has the child spending alternate weekends and one or two nights/evenings a week with the parent who doesn’t have primary care of the child. Normally, the holidays, winter break, March break, and summer break are shared on an alternating schedule.
Access visits can be unsupervised or supervised depending on the agreement in place. These agreements are decided upon in court, based on the best interests of the child. Often visits are unsupervised, which means no one else must be present while the child is spending time with the access parent.
What Is the Difference Between Custody and Access?
If you have children and decide to divorce from your spouse, there are many decisions that need to be made around child care. Whether you are married or living as common law doesn’t matter, as long as both of you are considered the child’s legal guardian. In court proceedings, you will either be granted custody or access to your children.
The main difference is that the custodial parent has the power to make important decisions about the child’s life. These decisions include religion, medical treatment, and school and education programs.
If you are only granted access, you still have rights in regard to your child. You are legally allowed to visit your child. You are legally allowed to ask your child’s doctor, teacher, other parent or daycare provider about your child’s health, education and safety.
As the parent with access, you are not granted the legal right to make important decisions about your child’s upbringing. If you have a disagreement about how to raise your child with the custodial parent, they have the final say on the matter, but they must still consult with you.
Can a Non-Biological Parent Get Custody?
Not all parents are related to a child by blood, but that doesn’t mean they love them any less or have spent any less time and effort raising them. If you’re wondering “can a non-biological father get custody?” or “can a step parent get custody of a child?” then the answer is yes. It is a much more complex issue however. A biological parent will almost always be favoured by a court for custody. Don’t let that discourage you. There are certain situations where a non-biological parent will be awarded custody, even if the biological parents object.
The non-biological parent may be awarded custody if these situations apply:
- The court deems the biological parent(s) unfit.
- The court finds that living with the biological parent(s) isn’t in the best interest of the children.
- The court determines that the biological parent(s) are unavailable due to death, desertion, or various other reasons.
If any of the above reasons apply, the non-biological parent must have shared a reasonable amount of time with the child and be considered “family” by both the child and the court. Even if you’re not their biological parent, the court may award custody to you. If you think you deserve custody of the child, it’s important to get a child custody lawyer to help in these circumstances. Just because they’re more complex, does not mean you shouldn’t try. The court has the same goal as everyone involved. They are looking to serve the best interests of the child.
What Laws Decide Who Gets Custody?
Depending on your relationship status with the other parent, different Acts will apply. If you are getting a divorce or have already divorced, Divorce Act R.S.C. 1985, c.3 will apply. If you and your spouse have separated but not filed for divorce, you must use Children’s Law Reform Act R.S.O. 1990, c. C.12.
How Can a Child Custody Lawyer Help Me?
A law firm that specializes in Family Law, such as De Rose, can complete the necessary court documents needed to advance your claims. It’s crucial these forms are completed properly to give you the best chance at showing the court you’re the best option for providing a stable, kind and loving home for your children. We’ll work with you throughout the whole process to make sure you are properly represented with your rights protected too. We’ll advocate tirelessly on your behalf to get your children the best possible outcome.
Our team at De Rose Lawyers pride ourselves on being a law firm made up of family. We understand the importance of a happy family and strive to help people undergoing family disputes find the solutions they need, in a stress-free and empathetic environment.
Even if you’re going through the more peaceful route of mediation over a court battle, if you’re asking yourself “do I need a lawyer for custody mediation?” the answer is always yes. Even if you’re going through mediation to determine custody, it’s important that your rights are still protected and you’re putting your best case forward.
What Can I Expect from My Child Custody Lawyer?
Determining custody and access is one of the biggest and most important parts of the divorce process. Most parents’ primary concern is that they retain their relationship and ability to care for their kids, and this ends up being the biggest stressor for many people undergoing a divorce. We understand what you’re going through and will do our best to make this experience as painless as possible.
In ideal situations, both parents agree to the terms of custody and care which makes the process much easier. Our child custody lawyers will work with both parents to come up with a plan that works for each parent as we believe this is the most favourable outcome. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen. In the case where we cannot find a resolution between both parties that works for both of them, then we will act in the best interest of our client and their children. We will zealously fight in your favour to get you custody of your children.
We will help you in dealing with all aspects of child custody and access issues or disputes, including:
- Custody agreements
- Child visitation and access
- Parenting plans
- Child support
- Enforcing custody or access orders
- Parental alienation
- Substance abuse or mental health issues
Why Choose De Rose Lawyers?
Navigating the family legal system can be complicated and intimidating. We are here for you. De Rose Family Law and Child Custody Lawyers are committed to supporting you and your family throughout your legal journey by providing the expertise and guidance you’re looking for.
We work tirelessly and passionately with each and every one of our clients, giving us a shining reputation among the legal community. Our team is dedicated to helping families by taking a personal approach with every client and ensuring your experience is a positive one.
We empower our clients by providing them with flexible appointments, affordable legal fees, valuable tools and information every step of the way.