The Godfather: The Issue of Custody

James Caan, from "The Godfather", is in the midst of resolving the legal issues surrounding his separation with Linda Caan. According to TMZ, in response to James Caan's filing for divorce, Linda has demanded physical custody of their 16-year-old son Jacob. In his court documents, James has requested shared physical and legal custody.

In Ontario, the issue of "custody" refers to the decision-making for the child, in this case Jacob. For a married spouse who has filed an Application for Divorce in Ontario, the legal principles for determining applications for custody and access are set out in section 16 of the Divorce Act. Further, in accordance with section 16(8) of the Divorce Act, the court is required to take into "consideration only the best interests of the child of the marriage as determined by reference to the conditions, means, needs and other circumstances of the child". Further, the court must give effect "to the principle that a child of the marriage should have as much contact with each spouse as is consistent with the best interests of the child" in accordance with section 16(10) of the Act.

According to TMZ, James Caan has requested shared physical and legal custody, meanwhile Linda has asked for physical custody of their son Jacob. In Ontario, the Court will not mention the "physical custody" of a child, rather it is referred to as the residency of the child. If Linda were resident in Ontario and were to make the same requests, Linda would be requesting sole custody and that Jacob reside with her primarily. Meanwhile, James would request joint-custody of Jacob with a shared parenting schedule which sees Jacob spend equal time with either parent.

The legal implications of where Jacob resides are profound when it comes to the issue of child support. In Ontario, a Court will consider three factors when ordering child support:

  1. the income of the payor;
  2. the number of children; and
  3. the residency arrangements for the children.

As such, in the event that Linda's claim for sole custody and primary residency of Jacob were to be successful, an Order for child support would accompany such a decision if it were to be made by an Ontario Court.

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