Understandably, children are the biggest concern for my clients during a separation.
When dealing with Child Custody in Ontario our courts focus on one thing: the best interests of the children.
In some situations the decision of child custody can be amicably decided by parents at the time of separation. If this is the case, then it is important that I ensure my client has a legally binding Separation Agreement drafted and signed. Once this is done, neither parent can unilaterally change the previously agreed upon terms.
If an amicable agreement is not possible then deciding who will get custody and what type it will be gets determined by the courts. This decision is never made lightly and the law sets out some basic principles for a judge to follow when making this important decision.
When determining child custody in Ontario a judge will consider items such as:
- First and foremost the best interest of the children.
- The parent-child relationship and bonding.
- Parenting abilities of each individual.
- Each parent’s mental, physical and emotional health.
- The typical schedule of both parents and children.
- Available support systems of each parent (for example, help and involvement of grandparents or other close relatives).
- Sibling issues. Generally, brothers and sisters will be kept together, but under some circumstances it may be necessary to consider separating them.
- Care arrangements before the separation. Who was the primary care giver?
- The child’s wishes. The Office of the Children’s Lawyer may be appointed by the court to help in determining the child’s wishes.
- A court assessment may be done wherein a professional will meet with both parents and the child(ren). The professional will then make recommendations to the court. Judges tend to follow the recommendations made as the professionals are neutral third parties who only act in the best interest of the child(ren).
If you choose to keep your matters private and out of the traditional court system, I can assist you through Mediation and/or the Collaborative Law System.