Ontario Child Custody and Access

When parents are going through a separation or divorce, some of the most difficult decisions that need to be made are those concerning the children. Who will the children live with? Who will have custody? What happens if the parents cannot agree?

At Russell Alexander Family Lawyers, our focus is exclusively on family law, so we are experienced in answering these and other difficult questions regarding the impact of separation and divorce on children. We strive to help clients arrive at parenting arrangements that will place the children’s best interests first.

Legal Aspects of Child Custody and Access

Ontario family law recognizes that children often benefit from having maximum contact with both parents. Where appropriate, parents should share in the parenting decisions related to their children, as well as the time spent with their children.

In some circumstances, parents wish to maintain joint custody and make decisions regarding their children jointly, but decide that it would be in the child’s best interests to have the child live primarily with one parent. In these situations, the parent with whom the child does not reside most of the time can foster her or his relationship with the child through “access.” This term simply refers to the time that the other parent will spend with their child.

Where parents can agree on how to split their time with their child or children, this arrangement can be as detailed or as open-ended as the parties agree. For example, parents may wish to outline which holidays are spent with whom in advance, so that the child does not feel any guilt about having to “decide” the issue when it arises. This can also prevent any dispute as to what is an equitable sharing of the child’s time. Where parents cannot agree on the major decisions involving their children or on how the child’s time should be divided, a court can make an order to provide the parties with a solution.

How We Help You with Child Custody and Access

Should you hire a lawyer? Clients regularly seek our firm’s help to answer questions such as:

  • Who is financially responsible for the children?
  • Where will the children live?
  • My spouse has moved out; can he or she take the children with him or her?
  • When will I get to see my children?
  • What happens on holidays and special occasions?

The Russell Alexander Family Lawyers team is dedicated to helping clients achieve the most appropriate resolution to their family law problems, both through informal discussions and through representing our client’s interests in court. Our lawyers and law clerks will help you by:

  • Determining your goals regarding child custody and access and providing you with options on how to achieve these goals
  • Regularly corresponding with you to obtain updates and provide you with the status of your case
  • Negotiating on your behalf with the other party or his or her lawyer
  • Drafting an agreement to outline the terms of your custody arrangements, including any detailed schedules for access that the parties have negotiated
  • Where negotiations fail, completing court documents on your behalf and meeting with you to review them
  • Filing your application in court and representing you at every stage of the court process
  • Taking the necessary steps to have your agreement or court order regarding custody and access enforced

We know that the breakdown of a relationship is a difficult time for all parties involved. Therefore, we strive to achieve a suitable resolution to the client’s custody and/or access dispute in a friendly and efficient manner.