What is the difference between joint and sole custody? What about shared custody?
Joint custody means that both parents make major decisions about the children together.
Sole custody means that one parent makes most or all major decisions about the children.
Shared custody exists when children live with each parent at least 40 per cent of the time. In these circumstances, child support may be calculated differently under the Child Support Guidelines.
What is “access”? What is the difference between custody and access?
Custody is about decision-making. Access is about how much time children spend with each parent. Children’s access arrangements can vary greatly. In some situations, children live primarily with one parent and visit regularly with the other. In others, children divide their time equally or almost equally between the parents’ homes.
How does a judge decide custody of or access to a child?
Both the Children’s Law Reform Act and the Divorce Act require decisions about child custody and access to be made based on the best interests of the child. This generally involves a consideration of:
• the ability of each parent to care for the child
• the ties between the child and each parent
• the stability of the child’s current living arrangements
• the strength of each parent’s plan to care for the child in the future, and,
• in appropriate circumstances, the child’s wishes.
The law also states that the judge must consider any incidents of violence or abuse when assessing a person’s ability to parent.
My ex isn’t providing me with access to the children according to our court order, what can I do?
If a court order for access is not being followed, you can bring a motion to ask the court to require the other party to comply. If there are serious problems with access arrangements, the court can impose penalties and, if it is in the child’s best interests, make changes to the custody/access arrangements.
I want to go on holiday with my children outside of Canada. Do I need to have the other parent’s permission?
Federal authorities will likely require written confirmation of the other parent’s consent before allowing the children to be removed from Canada. Standard consent forms are available from the federal government. If the other parent will not give his or her permission, you may need a court order to permit the travel.
I want to have a custody or access order changed, what should I do?
If your order is no longer appropriate, you can have it changed with the other parent’s consent. You can bring a motion to change on consent by filing a Form 15C: Consent Motion to Change with Form 14B: Motion Form. If you cannot agree to the change, you can serve and file Form 15: Motion to Change. Usually, the court will only change a custody or access order where there has been a significant change in the child’s circumstances.
I want to move to another province with my children, what do I need to do?
Unless you have a court order or agreement that specifically says that you may move with the children, you should speak to your lawyer about the steps that should be taken before you finalize your plans. In most circumstances, your proposed move will be an issue for the court to decide if you and the other parent cannot come to an agreement.