How Is Child Custody Determined in Ontario?

Following divorce, separation, or other issues, you and your ex-partner may have a hard time deciding who should have control of your children. And this is where the determination of child custody comes into the picture. In this article, we will show you how child custody is determined in Ontario.

What is child custody?

In simple terms, child custody refers to having control and care of children. Custody will affect many issues including visitation rights of the parents, child’s religion, child’s education, etc.

Various types of child custody

The main types of child custody include:

  • Shared custody

Shared custody is a kind of custody in which the children are allowed to stay with each parent for at least 40% of the time. The amount of time spent with each parent may be used for determining child support.

  • Joint custody

Joint custody means both parents have joint access and control of the children. Resultantly, they join hands to determine the process of raising the children. Notably, the children can stay with each parent whenever they want or just stay permanently with one of the parents. It should be noted that joint custody ensures that both parents share responsibilities for how the children are raised.

  • Sole custody

As the name suggests, sole custody means that the child stays permanently with one of the parents. Although the other parent may be able to access the children, the sole parent has the right to make vital decisions concerning the children.

  • Split custody

Sometimes, the children may be split between the parents. When this occurs, it is known as split custody. For example, parents with two children may decide that each parent should pick one child.

Who has the right to determine child custody?

  • Court

The court can determine how child custody should be done. The decision will be based on the Divorce Act, the Family Law Act, the Children’s Law Reform Act, the result of previous court cases, and the results of the assessments ordered by the court. Such court proceedings form an important part of family law.

  • The spouses

If spouses can agree on how child custody should be done, the court cannot change it.

Factors for determining child custody

  • Spouses can request custody

According to the federal Divorce Act, spouses can submit an application that will make a court determine child access and custody. Based on this act, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, grandparents, etc. cannot apply for child access or custody.

  • Past conduct of an individual

Normally, the court doesn’t consider the past conduct of an individual when determining child custody and access. However, if the conduct can affect their ability to function properly as a parent, it may be considered.

  • Not biological parent

Based on the Federal Law Act of Ontario, a non-biological parent can apply for child custody or access. However, such a non-biological parent must have shown interest in treating the child as theirs.

  • Blood ties

Blood ties are an essential consideration for deciding child custody and access. However, blood ties are not usually prioritized.

  • Friendly parent rule

This rule involves granting child custody to the parent that will likely enable the other parent to have access to the children.

Marital offense and the age of the child are no longer considered important factors for determining child custody and access.

Court-ordered assessments

The court will order a professional to assess the parents and their children. The findings of the assessments will be used by the court to determine what is best for the child.

To navigate the process of child custody and access successfully, you shouldn’t hesitate to hire a lawyer with expertise in family law.

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