Toronto Family Lawyers - Child Custody And Access

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Toronto Child Custody and Access Lawyers

Introduction To Child Custody And Access

Simply put, when a couple gives birth to a child, each individual parent has equal legal rights and responsibilities under the law to take part in raising the child. These rights exist whether or not the couple is legally married, in a common law relationship, or have no relationship at all. Therefore, in a typical nuclear family (father-mother-children), the parents share the decision-making authority over the child’s, or children’s, upbringing. When there is a breakdown in the marriage, however, the parents must come to an agreement on how they will either share or divide their child-rearing rights and responsibilities. Simply put, a separating couple must formulate an arrangement dealing with child custody and access rights.


It is never recommeded for parents to draft a custody and access agreement on their own. The law in this area is very technical, and highly complicated. Representing yourself will likely lead to a deficient agreement, as most people are unaware of their legal rights in these sorts of matters. At LawyerSelect.ca, we specialize in connecting you with the best Toronto Family Lawyers who specialize in Child Custody and Access. They can help you draft a custody and access agreement that is fair, workable and will stand the test of time.

What Is Child Custody?

In this section, we’ll explore the issue of custody in more detail. In Ontario, custody is defined as the right to make important decisions regarding the care and upbringing of a child, or children. This includes the right to make decisions on which religion the child will follow, the school that they’ll attend, the extracurricular activities that they’ll participate in, and the medical treatment that they’ll receive.


However, not all types of custody are the same. In Ontario, the family law provides for (1) sole custody, (2) joint custody, (3) shared custody, and (4) split custody. We’ll explore each type of custody below.


Sole Custody:

Under this form of custody, the parent who has sole custody of the child, or children, will have the sole responsibility and authority to make unilateral decisions regarding the child’s, or children’s, upbringing, and how they’ll be raised. Where a sole custody agreement is in effect, then the child, or children, will typically reside with the parent who has the sole legal custody. The purpose of a sole custody arrangement is to proactively mitigate any concerns or risks posed to the child by exposure to one of the parents.


The courts consider this type of custody only in circumstances that require it. Some examples are:

  • Where there is a serious and prolonged conflict between the two parents.
  • Where there are concerns of abuse, whether by one parents on the other, or by one parents on the child, or children, or both.
  • Where there are concerns of substance abuse – such as alcohol or drug use (this includes legally prescribed prescription drugs).
  • Where there are concerns of mental illness or diminished mental capacity.
  • Where there is a history of poor judgment by one parent.

Joint Custody:

This is the preferred form of custody, because to work, both parents will need to be in agreement with one another on major child-rearing issues, and have little to no concerns regarding each other’s judgment. As such, under this type of custody arrangement, both parents have an equal legal footing when it comes to major decisions that affect their child, or children. Therefore, neither parent has the legal authority to make unilateral decisions regarding their child’s, or children’s, welfare and upbringing. When there is a disagreement between the parents in a joint custody arrangement, it is typically solved by a joint consensus of the parents, or one parent acquiesces to the decision of the other.


This sort of custody arrangement works best in situations where the conflict between the parents is minimal, or even where there is a moderate level of conflict, but where the parents are able to maturely, and cogently resolve the dispute between them. Lastly, with respect to living arrangement under a joint custody arrangement, the child, or children, may live primarily with one parent, or jointly with both parents. Many different living arrangements are possible under this sort of custody arrangement.


Shared Custody:

Unlike the other forms of custody arrangements, this arrangement doesn’t deal with the decision-making powers of each parent. Rather, under a shared custody arrangement, the primary focus is with the amount of time that the child, or children, will spend with each parent, the purpose of which is to determine each parent’s child support obligations. Under the definition provided for in the Child Support Guidelines (CSG) in use in Ontario, a shared custody arrangement exists when a child resides with one parent at least 40% of the time. The quantum of time can be composed of time spent with that parent on weekends, vacations, or even overnight sleepovers.


Split Custody:

It is important to note that this type of custody arrangement is not very commonly used in Ontario. By definition, however, it exists when the couple have reared more than one child with one another, and each parent has one or more of the children residing with them. For example, where one child lives with the father, and one child lives with the mother. This custody arrangement is seldom used because of a public policy favouring the children to reside together.


At LawyerSelect.ca, we specialize in connecting you with the right Toronto Family Lawyer who specializes in Child Custody and Access. Your Toronto Family Lawyer will assist you in drafting a fair and equitable custody and access agreement that will stand the test of time.

What Is Child Access?

In Canada, the term “visitation” isn’t used in common legal parlance. However, most of us associate the concept of “access” with the term “visitation” because of its use in popular American media and television. Under the current Canadian law, access is where one parent is given sole custody of the child, or children, and the other parent is given access to that child, or children. Additionally, if both parents have joint custody of the child, or children, in question, but the child, or children, reside with one parent, then the other parent is granted the right of access to visit the child, or children.


Like custody, access comes in many forms. It can either be supervised or unsupervised access, which the court decides based on what it feels is in the child’s, or children’s, best interests. Typically, an access arrangement will be unsupervised, which is where the child, or children, visit the parent with access without the need for any supervision, whether by the parent with custody, or any other person.


The most commonly implemented access schedule is where the child, or children, reside with the access parent on alternating weekends, as well as one or two nights per week. The access parent will also get a share of the holidays, which include statutory holidays, Christmas, March break, and summer sabbatical.


If you are being denied your parental right to child access, contact us here at LawyerSelect.ca, and we'll quickly put you in touch with a Toronto Family Lawyer who specializes in Child Custody and Access. Your Toronto Family Lawyer will help you enforce your legal rights to Child Custody and Access.

Shared Parenting Arrangements

By definition, a shared parenting arrangement is where the child, or children, reside with each parent no less than 40% of the time. The allotment of time can be structured quite flexibly, such that the child, or children, can reside with each parent on alternating weekends and an equal amount of weekdays.


Most parents prefer this type of shared parenting arrangement since it allows both of them to have an equal share of the time spent with the child, or children. It is most commonly used in situations where the parents are on speaking terms and able to discuss child-rearing issues amicably. However, for this type of parenting arrangement to work, it is an absolute necessity that both parents agree to the terms of the access schedule that’s in place. Specifically, the terms of the arrangement dealing with the rights of the parent that is not in physical custody of the child, or children, must be clearly articulated. For example, when the child, or children, are in the custody of Parent A, when is it permissible for Parent B to contact them? These types of scenarios should be clearly dealt with in a shared parenting arrangement.


Sadly, this area of the law is still not as developed as many believe it should be. Specifically, there has been a historical trend that favours younger children to reside with their mother. Despite some recent changes to the law, which have provided fathers with more access rights after separation, the norm continues to be that younger children will spend more time with their mothers than with their fathers. Therefore, it is important for the fathers of young children to come to grips with the current state of the law, and how they may be denied the right to spend an equal amount of time with their children.


At LawyerSelect.ca, we know how important it is for fathers to spend an adequate amount of time with their children. That's why if you've been denied an equal say, and an equal amount of time, under a shared parenting arrangement, we'll do everything we can to ensure that you're connected with the right Toronto Family Lawyer who specializes in Child Custody and Access. Your Toronto Family Lawyer can help you regain your parenting rights. We work with some of the best Toronto Family Lawyers in the city, and we'll gladly put you in touch with them.

Domestic Violence: What Impact Does It Have On Child Custody And Access?

The age old question that clients have posited to lawyers over the years is: will the courts award joint custody in a situation where one of the parents has been abusive to the other, whether verbally, physically or emotionally? The law does not provide a clear cut answer to this question, but one can be inferred by reference to the Ontario Children’s Law Reform Act, which states that any determination regarding custody and access must be based primarily on the best interests of the child, or children. In assessing the best interests of the child, or children, the court will consider a number of factors, including:

  • The love, affection and emotional ties between the child and,
    1. each person entitled to or claiming custody of or access to the child,
    2. other members of the child’s family who reside with the child, and
    3. persons involved in the child’s care and upbringing;

  • The child’s views and preferences, if they can reasonably be ascertained;
  • The length of time the child has lived in a stable home environment;
  • The ability and willingness of each person applying for custody of the child to provide the child with guidance and education, the necessaries of life and any special needs of the child;
  • The plan proposed by each person applying for custody of or access to the child for the child’s care and upbringing;
  • The permanence and stability of the family unit with which it is proposed that the child will live;
  • The ability of each person applying for custody of or access to the child to act as a parent; and
  • The relationship by blood or through an adoption order between the child and each person who is a party to the application.

Therefore, based on the factors enumerated in the Children’s Law Reform Act, a parent’s misbehaviour and/or past conduct will only be relevant if it in some way affects that person’s ability to effectively parent. That may be surprising to most people, as it leads to the abnormal result that a parent who is both verbally and physically abusive can secure joint custody, and even have their residence classified as the primary residence of the child, or children. That is why the Ontario Legislature enacted a subsequent provision to the Children’s Law Reform Act, which deals with the issues of violence and abuse by a parent. The Act states that in assessing a parent’s ability to act as a parent, the court will consider whether the person has at any time committed violence or abuse against:

  • Their spouse.
  • A parent of the child to whom the application relates.
  • A member of the person’s household.
  • Any child.


As such, even if the parents decide jointly that they want to co-parent, a court will not agree unless it is in the best interests of the child, or children. Therefore, if a parent is mistreating the other parent, then they will need to seek some sort of counselling, whether in the form of anger management or psychological/ psychiatric counselling, before they’re entitled to co-parent.

Why Do I Need A Toronto Family Lawyer To Enforce My Child Custody and Access Rights?

The law respecting child custody and access, as well as the Family Court system, are both legally and procedurally time consuming and complicated. Equally as challenging are the out-of-court negotiations that are held between the parties. This is because most people are unfamiliar with family law, and are, therefore, unaware of the rights they may have or the entitlements they may seek.


Those that represent themselves, whether in a court proceeding or during negotiations, run the risk of becoming overwhelmed, stressed out and lost. What usually results is they inadvertently hurt their own case by filing the wrong motion, or negotiating the wrong term. Don't prejudice yourself because you didn't want to spend the money on a lawyer. At LawyerSelect.ca, we can connect you with a Toronto Family Lawyer who specializes in Child Custody and Access matters. We'll ensure that your Toronto Family Lawyer charges reasonable fees, and accepts payment plans. Click the button below to start your search for Toronto Family Lawyers.

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