Parenting Laws

CHILD CUSTODY, ACCESS AND SUPPORT

When the parents of a child do not live together, due to separation, divorce or they have never lived together, the parents must determine the issues or custody, access and support.

Custody is the right to make decisions concerning the child in important areas such as education, religion and medical treatment. Each parent has the right to share a child's custody unless a court order or separation agreement gives that right to one parent only.

If both parents have custody, they have what is called joint custody. A situation in which only one parent has custody is called sole custody. Custody should therefore not be confused with the issue of residence, which concerns who a child lives with. A child could live most of the time with one parent, but the parents could have joint custody, and therefore share the right to make important decisions concerning the child.

Two parents may be able to agree on custody and the related issues of access and support. If they cannot, a judge will make the decision for them. The judge's decision would be based on the best interests of the child, not those of either parent. An agreement or court order can be changed, but only by agreement between the parties or further court order.

Access is the right to spend time with a child. Even if one parent has custody, the other parent also has the right to see, and receive information about, the child. Couples often agree, and judges if necessary often order, "reasonable access on reasonable notice". This means that the parents have to work out the days and times when each will see the child. Alternatively, the couple may agree, or a judge may order, that access will be on specific days and times. A judge may order that access be supervised if there is reason to believe that the parent receiving access has abused the child in the past or threatened to kidnap the child. Such access is usually either exercised at a community center or supervised elsewhere by a trustworthy friend or relative.

Depending upon the respective incomes of a child's two parents and how much time the child spends with each, one parent may be required to pay child support to the other. Again, the couple may agree on this, and if not, a judge may set an amount.

If one parent denies the other access or support, the other parent is not entitled to retaliate by denying the access or child support provided for in an agreement or court order. This is because access and support are separate matters that are both intended for the benefit of the child, and the child is the one who would suffer the most if either were taken away. A parent who is being denied the access or support provided for in an agreement or court order has the right to bring further legal action to force the other parent to comply, but should continue to fulfill his or her own obligations in the meantime.

To speak to the lawyer students must make an appointment, come to the RSU's main office in the Student Centre - SCC311, third floor or call 416.979.5255 ext. 2325 

Contact: RSU main office | (416) 979-5255 ext. 2325

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