When someone uses the term “child custody”, they may be referring to one or both of two types of custody. The first type is legal custody, which refers to a parent’s right to make important medical, legal, and moral decisions about their child’s life. This can include decisions about the child’s education, the child’s religion, and the child’s involvement with extracurriculars or special needs programming. The other type of custody is physical custody, which refers to a parent’s right to have their child live with him or her.
When people make reference to “shared custody” or “joint custody”, the exact meaning of these terms can be a bit blurry. They may be referring to an arrangement in which both parents make legal decisions for the child, or they may be referencing the fact that the child lives an equal amount of time with each parent. It’s also possible for parents to share both legal and physical custody of children, or to share one type of custody but not the other.
The courts are always invested in determining which type of custody arrangement would be in the best interest of the child. Sometimes, when things are so hostile between the child’s parents that they can’t co-parent together, the best solution for the child is for one of the parents to have sole legal custody. This is aimed at preventing further arguments regarding major life decisions about this child.
In situations of one parent having sole physical custody of a child or children, the other parent often has the right to access. Access refers to the time a parent can spend with their child. Even when one parent has been granted sole custody of a child, the courts generally consider it in the best interests of the child for him or her to spend time with the non-custodial parent.
The way in which access or visitation with a child takes place is generally set out in the Separation Agreement or court order. Visitation can be strictly regimented, or at the custodial parent’s discretion. It can take place at the non-custodial parent’s home, or in a public setting. Access visits may or may not include overnights at the non-custodial parent’s home. Access may be supervised or unsupervised. These details are all determined by the agreement that has been reached between the parents unless there is involvement from the Children’s Aid Society or there is some other legal reason why one parent cannot have any access or unsupervised access to their child.
Tailor Law’s child custody and access lawyers reliably assist clients from Toronto and the surrounding areas with their family law matters. Our lawyers listen to you and provide advice that is curated to your specific set of circumstances. For a free, 30-minute consultation with one of our skilled and compassionate child custody and access lawyers, phone 905-366-0202 any time.