Steve Francis: Impact of Lifestyle Choices on Custody and Access

Former NBA star Steve Francis is officially divorced from his wife of 11 years after lengthy litigation. Asreported by TMZ, one of the main issues of contention was Steve's custody and access rights with respect to the two children of the marriage, in consideration of his substance abuse issues. The presiding judge in their matter put strict conditions into place, and ordered that Steve was permanently restricted from using drugs or alcohol within 12 hours of his parenting time with the children, and if he breaches this condition, he may lose his parenting time.

Steve's case is an example of how your lifestyle outside of parenting time can have an impact on your rights in respect of your children. Custody and access decisions in Ontario are made in accordance with the best interest of the child, as set out at section 24 of the Children's Law Reform Act, which provides that that the Court should consider the child's needs and circumstances, and lists the relevant factors for that determination. In this case, the safety and well-being of the children while in Steve's care is of the upmost importance, and is directly related to their best interests.

If the Court finds that it would not be in a child's best interests to be alone with a parent for parenting time, the Court may order supervised access. Supervised access is typically parenting time of a relatively short duration, which takes place at an access facility, or under the supervision of another adult who has been approved by the Court. Supervised access ensures that the parent and child are able to spend meaningful time together in a safe environment. If substance abuse issues continue to be a concern for the Court in Steve's matter, it is possible that a judge may consider amending the parenting arrangements to include supervised access.

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