When a marriage with children breaks down, two main issues arise – where will the children live, and who makes the major decisions in their lives? We help our clients understand their options by assessing their unique situations and explaining their rights and obligations.
Regarding where the children live, often the parties agree that the children should primarily reside with one parent. Other parents prefer to work out shared parenting plans, with the children alternating their residence between the parents' homes.
Regarding whether major decisions in the children's lives will be made by one parent or both parents jointly, the courts are directed to consider the children’s best interests when making parenting orders.
Married parents may apply for court orders regarding the parenting of their children under the Divorce Act or the Family Law Act. Non-married parents must apply for orders regarding their children under the Family Law Act. The terminology used for parenting orders differs depending on the statute under which the parent applies.
The Divorce Act uses the term “custody” to describe the right given to the parent with whom a child lives primarily and the term “access” to describe the right of visitation given to the other parent. The Family Law Act uses the term “parenting” to describe the rights of a guardian parent with whom a child resides primarily and “contact” for the rights of the other parent or a non-guardian.
If you have any concerns about the custody or parenting of your children, please contact one of our lawyers immediately – particularly if there have been any recent changes in the care arrangements for your children or if there are any plans to change the residence of your children. Inaction could be prejudicial to your case.
Where parenting issues are disputed, we discuss with our clients the options they have for resolving parental rights and obligations relating to their children, the costs associated with each course of action and the probability of success.