What a Child Custody Lawyer Doesn’t Want You to Know

  • Sole Custody:

    In this arrangement, the child lives primarily with one parent being solely responsible for the care and upbringing of the children. All decisions regarding the children are made by this parent, even if the other parent disagrees.

  • Split Custody:

    This arrangement involves dividing the children between both parents. Some children live with one parent, while others live with the other.

  • Joint Custody:

    In cases where the court grants joint custody, parents share custodial rights and are involved in making decisions regarding their children. This arrangement requires effective communication and cooperation between the parents for its success.

  • Shared Custody:

    This type of custody is applicable when parents share custody, and one parent spends at least 40% or more of their time with the children. It signifies a more balanced sharing of parenting responsibilities.

It’s important to note that the court-mandated custody arrangement determines whether the children will primarily live with one parent or split their time between both parents. It’s also crucial to distinguish between custody and access arrangements. Access refers to the non-residential parent’s right to spend time with the children, and it can vary based on the parent’s ability to work together. In cases where one parent has a history of abuse or neglect, the court may restrict their access to the children.

Government of Canada. “Selected Statistics on Canadian Families and Family Law.” Department of Justice, 2000. Accessed on June 18 2023. Available at: Tap Here.

A New Era of Child Custody Dispute Resolution

  • Joint Decision-Making:

    Joint decision-making responsibility is where both parents retain full decision-making authority and responsibility in all areas concerning the child. This arrangement ensures that both parents remain involved in making decisions about their children, fostering a cooperative and collaborative approach to parenting post-separation or divorce.

    It’s important to note that joint decision-making responsibility is distinct from parenting time, which refers to the time a child spends with each parent. A joint decision-making arrangement can exist even if the child spends more time with one parent than the other.

  • Sole Decision-Making:

    When a parent has sole decision-making responsibility, they are solely authorized to make major decisions for the child, to the exclusion of the other parent. These decisions could include those related to the child’s health, education, and overall well-being.

    It’s important to note that the parent with sole decision-making responsibility doesn’t need to involve the other parent when making these decisions, unless the agreement or court order specifies otherwise.

    Also important to note that sole decision-making responsibility is distinct from parenting time, which refers to the time a child spends with each parent. A sole decision-making arrangement can exist even if the child spends equal time with the other parent.

  • Parenting Time:

    Parenting Time” refers to the time a parent spends with their child. During this time, the parent is responsible for the care, supervision, upbringing, and decision-making for the child.

    The concept of Parenting Time is part of a broader framework known as a parenting plan, which is a written agreement between parents outlining how they will raise and care for their children after separation or divorce. The parenting plan typically includes details about where the children will live, how decisions about the children will be made, and how much time the children will spend with each parent.

2021 Parenting Plan Guide, the AFCC-O

Professional help in preparing your parenting agreement

Several professionals are available to assist separating parents in preparing a parenting agreement. Here are some standard options:

  • Family Lawyers: Family lawyers specialize in family law matters, including child agreements. They can provide legal advice, guide parents through the process, and draft legally binding parenting agreements that reflect the children’s best interests.

  • Mediators: Mediators are neutral third parties who help facilitate communication and negotiation between parents. They assist in identifying common ground, exploring options, and reaching mutually acceptable agreements. Mediators do not provide legal advice but focus on promoting cooperative decision-making.

  • Parenting Coordinators: Parenting coordinators are professionals trained in conflict resolution and child development. They work with separating parents to develop parenting plans and assist in resolving disputes that may arise post-separation. Parenting coordinators can provide ongoing support and help parents navigate co-parenting challenges.

  • Collaborative Law Professionals: Collaborative lawyers, mental health professionals, and financial specialists work together to help parents reach an agreement. They promote a cooperative and non-adversarial approach, focusing on open communication and finding mutually beneficial solutions.

  • Family Counsellors or Therapists: Family counsellors or therapists can provide emotional support and guidance to parents during the separation process. They can help parents navigate emotional challenges and facilitate healthy communication, essential for developing a parenting agreement.

In conclusion, navigating the complexities of separation and co-parenting can be a challenging journey. However, it is not a path that you have to walk alone. Numerous professionals, such as family lawyers, mediators, parenting coordinators, collaborative law professionals, and family counsellors or therapists, can provide invaluable assistance. They can guide you through the process, help you negotiate and communicate effectively, and assist in drafting a parenting agreement that prioritizes your children’s best interests.

However, ensuring that these professionals have integrated the best practices outlined in the AFCC-O Parenting Plan Guide is crucial. This guide provides a comprehensive framework for creating a parenting plan that is fair, realistic, and child-focused. By adhering to these best practices, you can transition from disappointed spouses to supportive co-parents, keeping your family’s welfare at the forefront and potentially avoiding the stress and conflict of family court.

Remember, the goal is to separate amicably and build a strong foundation for co-parenting that supports your children’s growth and well-being. You can achieve this objective with the right professional help and adherence to proven guidelines.

About the Author:
Ken Maynard CDFA, Acc.FM

I assist intelligent and successful couples in crafting rapid, custom separation agreements that pave the way for a smooth transition towards a secure future. This efficient process is achieved in about four meetings, effectively sidestepping the excessive conflicts, confusion, and costs commonly linked to legal proceedings. Clients have the flexibility to collaborate with me either via video conference or in-person through a DTSW associate at any of our six Greater Toronto mediation centers, located in Aurora, Barrie, North York, Vaughan, Mississauga, and Scarborough.

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