Whether you are going through a divorce or separation, the safety and well-being of a child is often at the forefront of a parent’s mind. That’s why it is important to ensure that you have all the necessary information and guidance in order to best protect your child. Our law office is committed to making sure you are aware of your rights and protecting your custody rights. Contact us at 905-815-6555 for help today.
Child Custody & Access
What is child custody?
Custody refers to the legal right an individual has in relation to the care and control of a child or children. It is the right to make decisions relating to the upbringing of a child, including where the child goes to school, what extra-curricular programs they participate in, what religion they practice and their medical treatment.
Typically, when two people have a child together, they naturally share all of the rights and responsibilities to that child. However, when parents separate or divorce, they have to decide how they will share these rights and responsibilities. Usually, the child or children will reside with one parent for the majority of the time. This does not mean that the other parent can never see their child again, it simply means that they have rights to visit the child at agreed upon times, called access. There are four different types of custody: joint custody, sole custody, shared custody and split custody.
Joint custody allows parents to share the rights and responsibilities of the child and have an equal say in the major decisions that affect the child. Neither parent is allowed to unilaterally make major decisions about the child’s care.
In this scenario, the parents also share equal access to the child. Even if the child lives with one of the parents, each parent is entitled to spend 40% of the time with the child. This scenario would work best when parents are able to cooperate with one another and there is little conflict between the two parents and so that the child can be minimally impacted or influenced.
Sole custody means that only one parent has the legal authority to make major decisions about the care of the child. The parent can unilaterally make decisions and does not require the consent or opinion of the other parent.
This scenario is most common when there is serious parental conflict between the two parents and can include concerns of violence, substance or physical abuse; or mental illness and poor judgment demonstrated by one of the parents. But this does not mean that the other parent does not have any access to the child.
Split custody is not that common but can exist in scenarios where there is more than one child involved and each one lives with a different parent. This type of custody tends to be very rare and only arises in situations where it would be beneficial that the children are separated for one another.
Shared custody is most concerned with the amount of time a child spends with each parent and is paramount to determining child support. When a child spends at least 40% of their time with one parent, that parent is entitled to ask for child support.
There are various factors that can be taken into consideration when determining whether a parent has met the 40% threshold and are entitled to seek child support. For example, in some scenarios overnights can be used to calculate time, while in others, time is calculated based on the number of hours actually spent with the child.
At Brace Law, we understand how important your children are to you, contact us at 905-815-6555 today!
What is Access?
When parents get divorced and one parent gets primary custody of the child, the other parent is entitled to access. This refers to the time a parent spends with a child that they do not live with.
Access will vary depending on what the parents decide is in the best interest of the child. This can include having a fixed schedule with times setting out when the child spends time with either parent or a flexible schedule that is decided upon when the parents agree. Access can be supervised or unsupervised and will include the right to information about the well being of the child.
If both parents are able to agree to a schedule and access arrangements, you are able to put everything into an agreement. If not, a family lawyer or a professional mediator is able to help you work out an agreement.
If arrangements and access have to be decided by the courts, the judge will utilize the best interests of the child test to determine custody and access. The courts will encourage that parents have access to their children, as it would be the best interest of the child.
For help with access and custody arrangements, contact our office today!
After the decision to divorce or separate has been made and issues regarding custody and access are resolved, the next step is to determine if either parent is entitled to child support.
Typically, the parent that is primarily responsible for the child tends to incur the most costs and daily expenses. As a result, the other parent may have to compensate the primary caregiver so as to lessen the burden the other parent has to incur.
Calculating Child Support
Parents are typically responsible for any dependent children they may have and may be required to financially support them until the child turns 18 or longer. Child support is calculated using the Child Support Guidelines and the child support tables. Factors that are typically considered to determine child support include clothing, groceries and school supplies. The gross annual income of the payor parent and the number of dependent children they have to support are used to determine child support.
The best interests of the child are paramount in any family law case. The Children’s Aid Society in Ontario is an independent organization that provides child protection services. In most cases, families work together with the CAS to ensure the safety and well being of their children. However, this process can be quite stressful because for CAS to function properly, the parent’s ability to take care of and meet the basic needs of the child are questioned.
In order to ensure the best interests and safety of the child, the CAS will assign a social worker to the family. The Society is able to start court proceedings when they believe a child is in a harmful situation. Firstly, CAS will begin a process to determine whether the child is in need of protection. The Society, under the Child and Family Services Act, has the burden of proving that the child is in need of protection. Secondly, if they determine that is the case, the court will determine the appropriate disposition or response to ensure the safety and well being of the child.
The Court can make a variety of dispositions based on the enumerated grounds of the CFSA in order to determine the appropriate response and plan for the child. The Court’s disposition can vary from placing the child in the care of the Society for a certain period of time to placing the child in the care of another caretaker to making the child a ward of the Crown.