Chris Brown and Nia Guzman: Risky Lifestyles and Supervised Access

TMZ reported last week that Nia Guzman filed for full custody of Royalty, her one-year-old daughter with rapper Chris Brown. Following the recent home invasion of Brown's home purportedly involving the rapper's gang friends, she is also asking the Court to limit Brown's access to supervised visits.

Guzman is claiming that Brown is too irresponsible to care for a child alone as his gangster lifestyle and substance abuse pose a threat to Royalty's safety.

Brown refutes Guzman's claims and has filed to prove his paternity as he plans to fight for joint custody. TMZ reports that Brown asserts that he has never risked Royalty's safety, has increased security in his home, has never done drugs in her presence, and has never permitted 'gang bangers' to be around his daughter.

If this custody dispute were being decided in Ontario, the Children's Law Reform Act (CLRA) would apply since it appears Brown and Guzman merely have a child together.

While both parents of a child are equally entitled to custody, an Ontario Court's determination of custody and access must be made in the 'best interests of the child' in accordance with section 24(1) of the CLRA. Section 24(2) lays out the factors a court must consider under this all-important test with regard to all of the child's needs and circumstances.

With concerns raised about Royalty's safety in Brown's care, the likely crucial factors within s. 24(2) that could sway an Ontario court towards supervised access are (1) Brown's proposed plan of care for Royalty's upbringing and (2) his ability to act as a parent. Stemming from concerns about his gangster lifestyle, Brown's ability to provide a safe home environment for his daughter could affect a court's perspective of his ability to parent. The fact that he has increased security in his home could either support Brown's case or be construed as evidence that the environment in which he intends to raise Royalty potentially puts her at risk.

Based on the parties' reported claims, an order for supervised access could depend on a finding that Royalty being unsupervised in her father's care is not in the infant's best interest, regardless of Brown's plans to increase security in his home. If Guzman could satisfy a judge that (a) Brown's drug use affects his ability to care for Royalty and (b) his lifestyle involving gang affiliations presents a danger to Royalty's wellbeing, an Ontario court may rule in Guzman's favour.

A joint custody order in Ontario is usually only awarded where the parents demonstrate an ability to cooperate in making decisions for the child. Given the ratcheting tension between Royalty's parents, whether such an order would be suitable in the circumstances remains to be seen.

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