One crucial point of consideration when going through a separation or divorce is child custody. You want your children to feel safe, supported, and loved despite the conflict. It’s, therefore, natural to worry about who will live with the children, who will get full custody, and how much time each parent will spend with them.

The issue of child custody can be emotive, especially in a contested divorce. Related issues like child support can be hard to determine, but family law lawyers in Thornhill, Ontario, can help you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse to make an agreement that favours the children. They can guide you in creating a short and long-term financial plan in the children’s best interests.

What is Child Custody?

Child custody is legally being granted children’s care, maintenance, and control after a divorce or separation. In most cases, children live with the parent that the court grants legal custody in a contested divorce case. Where the divorce is uncontested, the court usually gives control to the parent who asks for it. The custodial parent makes significant decisions concerning the children.

Another vital aspect of child custody is visitation rights. The court grants the non-custodial parent the right to visit the children at set times. They also have a right to enquire about the children’s progress, something called “access.” At this point, Thornhill Ontario child custody lawyers can help you navigate the complex process for the most favourable case outcome.

What Are the Types of Child Custody in Ontario?

The following are the types of child custody in Ontario:

Joint Custody

Joint custody grants both parents equal rights to the children. That means you and the other parent must work together for the children’s benefit. The input of both of you is crucial in making significant decisions concerning the children and raising them. You also must share responsibilities.

However, this type of custody doesn’t imply that the children must reside in both parents’ homes equally. The arrangements depend on what’s best for them. One of you can have their home as the primary residence while the other serves as the secondary residence where the children reside on weekends and holidays.

Sole or Full Custody

Sole custody allows one parent to live permanently with the children. If the court grants you sole custody, you have the right to make all significant decisions concerning the children, whether the other parent agrees or not. The court grants access to the other parent, or they can visit the children at your discretion.

It’s not automatic that the other parent receives custody if you become incapacitated or pass on. As a sole custodian, you have the right to decide who gets control of the children after your death for at least 90 days. Then, the person you appoint and the other parent can return to court to fight for custody.

Shared Custody

Shared custody means that you and your partner have equal rights to the children. You also share responsibilities in making decisions for the children and raising them. This custody applies if one parent spends most of their time away from home, is injured, or cannot take care of the children.

It also applies if one parent is more financially stable than the other. Thornhill, Ontario child custody lawyers can help you evaluate your financial position and help you make financial plans for child support to enhance your shared custody.

Split Custody

The scenario arises if you have more than one child. One child may stay with you and the other with the other parent. In this case, each child permanently lives with their respective parent, but you can have a rotating schedule for each child to have a chance to stay with the other parent.

Who Decides Child Custody in Ontario?

Child custody cases depend on whether the divorce is contested or uncontested.

When Parents Agree on Parenting Agreements

You can create a parenting plan if you and the other parent agree on where the children will live and how much time they’ll spend with each parent.

Thornhill family law lawyers can guide you in outlining crucial aspects of the parenting agreement. The plan can form an informal agreement between you two, a formal separation plan, or a court order.

When Parents Don’t Agree on Parenting Agreements

When you and the other partner can’t agree on custody arrangements, you can go to court, where the judge will decide and issue a parenting order. The order is a legal order that outlines parenting obligations, parenting time, and decision-making responsibility.

In court, the judge will decide:

  • Where the children will live
  • Who gets the decision-making responsibility
  • When and how the children will see the other parent.

It would help to consult with an experienced family law firm in Thornhill to learn your legal options. They can help you navigate the legal process and fight on your behalf for a fair negotiation in court to protect your rights as a parent and your children’s interests.

How Are Decisions Made About Child Custody?

Ontario laws on child custody set out some basic principles that a judge must consider when deciding about child custody.

These include:

  • The child’s best interests come first
  • Children must have as much contact as possible with both parents as long as their rights aren’t violated.
  • The parent-child relationship and bonding
  • The parents and child’s schedules
  • The emotional, physical, and mental health of the parents
  • Parenting abilities
  • Available support systems for the child
  • Sibling issues, for example, the need for the children to remain together
  • The wishes of the child

To determine the above factors, the judge may request an investigation and report from an Office of the Children’s lawyer. They may also require a psychologist and privately-trained social worker to speak to the children and each parent to present an assessment report to the court. The judge will also consider the current living arrangements of the children.

Compassionate Family Lawyers Helping Protect Your Family Interests

Making decisions about child custody and access can be difficult, emotionally draining, and time-consuming. A family law lawyer with experience in the court process can guide you and explain your rights and obligations in the case.
Having the correct legal information concerning your case can increase the chances of a favourable outcome. The aim is always to help create the best environment for you and your children.

Our legal team can guide you appropriately to prevent you from making costly mistakes that can ruin your children’s future. Reach out to us and learn how we can help.