Common Questions about Child Custody and Child Access
When children are involved in separation and divorce proceedings, parents often have several questions in regards to child custody and child access. Our Toronto family law firm understands how child custody and access issues can further add to the stresses of getting divorced. Below, we provide a general overview of some of the more frequently asked questions.
Is there a difference between access and custody?Child access refers to the amount of time each parents gets with their children. In some cases, one parent may have the children the majority of the time, while the other parent has access to the children on weekends. In other cases, parents split access more equally, where both parents get about the same amount of time with their children. Child custody refers to the parent’s ability to make major decisions for their children. Joint custody is where both parents have an equal say in making major decisions for their children. Sole custody is where one parent makes all or most of the major decisions and does not have to consult with the other parent.
Is access and custody determined by the courts?In amicable divorce situations, the parents might be in agreement about child access and custody arrangements prior to appearing in court. While the Judge will review and listen to what agreement the parents have arrived at, the Judge does reserve the right to make modifications. In addition, the Judge evaluates what is in the best interests of the children, not necessarily what each parent wants. In reaching a decision regarding access and custody, the Judge will consider the following:
- The stability of the children and their living arrangements.
- The ability of each parent to properly care for their children, both currently and in the future.
- The wishes of the child, depending on the age of the child and the circumstances.
- The relationship between the child and each parent.
- Whether there have been any known violent incidents or abuse towards the children.