What happens to the children in a divorce or separation?
This is often the first thing on people’s minds when they separate– what happens to the kids? In Ontario, the courts are focused on one thing – the children’s best interests and wellbeing.
Child custody is a legal term that describes the legal and practical relationship between a parent and their children. The term “custody” represents the parent’s legal right to make decisions for the children.
Under Ontario law there are three types of child custody: joint, sole and split.
This arrangement is when both parents are able to cooperate on their children’s best interests, and there are two forms:
- Joint Legal Custody – both parents have a say in the major decisions affecting the children. These major decision pertaining to the children may include decisions in relation to education, healthcare and religion. Joint custody does not mean that both parents will have equal physical custody of the children.
- Shared Custody – both parents spend at least 40% of the time with their children.
The fundamental principal of a joint custody agreement is that both parents work together cooperatively for the best interests of their children, but this doesn’t automatically mean than the children split their living arrangements 50-50 between both parents.
Many joint custody agreements involve the children spending weekends or holidays with one of their parents and spending the rest of their time with the other. The needs of the children are paramount and should shape a quality joint custody agreement, which we can draw up for you.
The parents’ will to work together on major decisions that will affect their children is essential to creating a clear custody agreement that guarantees a healthy, strong and fair relationship with their children.
When only one parent has custody of the children, this is known as sole custody. The children live with the parent who has sole custody. Usually, the other parent will have certain access rights to the children.
Sole custody agreements for separated and divorced parents were more common in the past than they are today, and involve one parent having both physical and legal custody of a child. This parent has the right to make all of the important decisions in the child’s life without consultation from the other parent.
This setup is more common with older children and occurs when one parent has custody of some of the children and the other parents has custody of the other children. This should be avoided with younger children, but teenage siblings often choose to live with different parents as their stated preferences can have a more significant influence on the outcome of a child custody agreement.
The children’s best interests at heart
If you’re looking for an agreement that gives you clarity and a meaningful say in your children’s future, we have helped dozens of our clients negotiate and draft separation agreements that keep the children as the primary focus. However, if it is not practical for you and your ex to negotiate a separation agreement, we have the ability to help you take your matter to court, where you can rest assured we will fight for your rights every step of the way.