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Your Complete Guide to Child Custody in Ontario

Child custody refers to the care, control, and maintenance of a child. The general presumption is that biological parents have the legal right to make decisions about their child's welfare without question.

When deciding matters of care for your children during and after a separation or divorce, there are a lot of things to consider. Ultimately, the most important question to ask yourself is, "what is best for my child?"

Basic types of child custody
• Sole or full custody
• Joint custody
• Shared custody
• Split custody

Physical vs. legal custody
The four types of custody can be any combination of physical and legal custody.
Physical custody of a child means responsibility for the child's day-to-day care.
Legal custody refers to the legal authority to make major decisions in the child's life, such as education, healthcare, religion, and other issues. Parents might share legal custody but not physical custody. In other words, there are situations where both parents have legal input but the child only lives with one parent.

Sole custody or full custody
In the case of sole custody, the child lives with one parent permanently. That parent also has the right to make all important decisions about the child, regardless of whether the other parent agrees. The other parent may have access rights, which may be at the discretion of the parent with sole custody, by virtue of an agreement reached between the parents, or, by way of court order.

Joint custody
Joint custody is an arrangement whereby parents equally share decision-making responsibilities for the child’s welfare. This means they must work together to agree on schedules, decisions, and other shared responsibilities.

A child’s residential arrangements with joint custodial parents varies case by case depending on the child’s age, needs, wishes and best interests. In many instances, a rotating visiting schedule is created between parents. This allows the child to share an equal amount of time between both parents.

Shared custody
Parents with shared custody care for and house their children for roughly equal amounts of time. If the decision-making is shared, the parents will have to agree on a schedule for visitation.
Shared custody differs from joint custody when:

  • One parent is away from home for extended periods of time, or

  • One parent is less financially stable than the other, or

  • One parent is ill, injured, or unable to care for their children

  • Split custody
    Split custody occurs when a family has at least two children. One child may reside with one partner and the other child resides with the other partner. This means that the children live permanently with their respective parent. Children may also rotate so they live with each parent for equal amounts of time. Each parent must have physical custody of at least one child. Either way, both parents must agree on split custody, and prove to the court that split custody is in the best interests of their children.

    In any custody arrangement, it is important to speak with a lawyer. Find out the options that are best suited to your family’s individual situation by contacting Sicotte Guilbault today.

    by: Chantel Carvallo - Lawyer, Mediator (AccFM)
    posted on: February 7, 2020