As you contemplate a separation or divorce, the well-being of your children is first and foremost in your mind.
You may know of children who have experienced emotional harm as a result of the breakdown of their parents’ relationship. Your children do not have to live this experience.
The best way to ensure your children’s well-being is to:
- acquire information on how to maximize their emotional health, during and after a separation;
- choose a child custody lawyer who can provide you with child centred advice and guidance; and
- choose a process for settling child custody and access that respects and protects the needs of your children.
Allow our family lawyers to assist you in making these choices.
Important Immediate Steps
See Your Child Custody Lawyer Before You Move – A parent’s success in obtaining child custody is significantly affected by whether that parent has the children in his or her care at the date of separation. Before you move from your family home, with or without your children, be sure to consult with your child custody lawyer as to the effect of your actions on a future claim regarding child custody and access.
See Your Child Custody Lawyer Before You Make Informal Arrangements – Informal time-sharing or child custody arrangements, worked out between parents, can significantly affect a final determination of child custody and access. You should understand the impact of such arrangements, through consultation with your child custody lawyer, before you enter in to such an arrangement.
Decisions made without the advice of a child custody lawyer can impair your chances of future success and your children’s well-being.
Who Gets Child Custody?
A parent’s greatest concerns are, generally:
- where will the children live, with me or with my spouse; and
- which of us will make decisions about the children.
The issue of how much time the children will spend with each parent is generally called “time-sharing.” If the children live primarily with one parent and visit with the other, their visiting time is generally called “access.” The issue of who will make decisions about the children is generally called “custody.”
There are a host of considerations that go into a determination of child custody and access. However, at the very outset, our child custody lawyers recommend that you consider the following:
Joint Custody or Shared Custody
The term “joint custody” is generally used to describe a child custody arrangement where both parents share important decisions about the children. The term “shared custody” is generally used to described a child custody arrangement where the children live equally, or roughly equally, with each parent.
Decisions about child custody are made more complicated by the fact that:
- shared custody arrangements can result in different child support obligations than traditional child custody arrangements; and
- the issue of custody is an emotional one.
Our family lawyers will educate you about the effects of possible child custody options on your support arrangements and will support the creation of parenting plan that maximizes cooperation and the wellbeing of your children.
Practical (Non-Legal) Tips to Preserve Your Children’s Wellbeing
For guidance on the steps that you should take to protect your children’s emotional wellbeing during and after the family law process, please see the article “10 Tips for Talking to Children About Divorce”.
Many separating parents ask about the risks of “abandonment” of the children or the family home. Fear around abandonment is usually generated by discussions with friends or associates who are not lawyers, as this is not a concept that is generally addressed in Ontario Family Law. However, if you would like your children to reside primarily, or at least half of the time, with you, there is some risk to you if you surrender primary care of your children to your spouse, even on a temporary basis.
The parent with whom the children are living at the time of separation has a greater likelihood of maintaining this arrangement. When separating, consult with your child custody lawyer before implementing temporary care arrangements for the children.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Do mothers fare better than fathers in custody battles?
- How does the amount of time that your children reside with each parent affect the amount of child support paid/received?
- Can a custodial parent deny court ordered access where he/she considers such a denial to be in the best interest of the children?
Please consult with our child custody lawyers to obtain the answers to these and all of your child custody and access, joint custody and shared custody questions.
When seeking a child custody and access lawyer in Barrie, or beyond, you can rely on the dedication and superior skills of the child custody and access lawyers of Bair Family Law.