Heidi Klum and Seal, the seemingly rock solid couple known for, among other things, throwing the greatest annual Halloween parties as well as renewing their wedding vows every year on their anniversary, have called it quits. Sources close to the Supermodel reveal that she may be filing divorce papers in L.A. County Superior Court as early as next week and that she will cite "irreconcilable differences" as the cause for the split.
The couple married on May 10, 2005 and since then their family has steadily grown. Currently, they have 3 biological kids in addition to Heidi's eldest daughter from a prior relationship with Flavio Briatore, a notorious Italian ladies' man.
The breakdown of their relationship will require the resolution of many issues, which include custody and access to the children.
However, will the fact that Seal is not the biological father of Heidi's eldest daughter impede his ability to parent her post-separation and maintain the relationship formed over the past 7 years? In Ontario, the answer to this question would be a resounding "no".
Once Seal effectively adopted Heidi's daughter, he gained all the same rights and obligations with respect to her care and well-being as a biological parent would have. Therefore, if this matter were to be heard in Ontario, when making a determination with regards to the custody of and access to the children, there would be no distinction between the factors considered for Seal's three biological children and those considered for his adoptive daughter.
To clarify, the parent who is granted custody of the children is endowed with the authority to make any important decisions about the care and upbringing of the child with regards to religion, school and educational programs, and medical treatment. Whereas, the parent who is granted access has the right to visit with the children as well as the right to obtain information regarding the children's health, education and welfare.
When attempting to come to a determination as to which parent should be granted custody of the children, the courts in Ontario will defer to "the best interests of the child".
This concept is somewhat defined under s. 24 of the Children's Law Reform Act which states that when attempting to determine which custodial arrangement would be in the best interests of the children, Ontario courts will consider the love, affection and emotional ties between the child and the person claiming custody as well as other family members who reside with the child and other persons involved with the child's upbringing; the child's views and preferences; the length of time the child has lived in a stable home environment; and the ability and willingness of the person applying for custody to provide the child with guidance and education, the necessities of life and any special needs of the child.
In Ontario, various court judgements suggest that when making a determination regarding custody and access, judges tend to prefer maintaining the status quo.
Parents who have throughout the couple's relationship acted as the primary caregiver to the children are commonly awarded custody of the children. In the case of Heidi and Seal, TMZ.com reports that Heidi made a whopping $20 million dollars in 2011 with her various reality shows, modelling shows, photo shoots, and cameo appearances. Seal's net worth is estimated at between $15 million to $20 million.
If her work-related commitments forced her to stay away from the home for prolonged periods of time, leaving Seal to care for the children in her absence, then the status quo created could favor Seal.