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Former NBA star Kevin Garnett is headed for divorce after 14 years of marriage to ex Brandi Padilla. Padilla filed for divorce in early July. They have 2 daughters together, ages 10 and 5. Padilla is reportedly asking for physical custody with Garnett having joint legal custody and visitation.

Child Custody Arrangements in Ontario

During a separation or divorce, determining child custody arrangements can be one of the biggest challenges in family law. In making an order for custody or access under either the Divorce Act (federal legislation, for married parents pursuing a divorce) or the Children’s Law Reform Act (Ontario legislation applying to parents who are not married, or who are not pursuing a divorce), the court will consider only the best interests of the child.

Custody is the legal right of the parent to make decisions for the child. In joint custody arrangements, both parents share custody of their children. It works best when parents are able to cooperate on parenting matters, and make decisions for the benefit of their children. Though both parents are equally involved in major decisions for the children, access and residential arrangements can vary considerably. For example, Garnett and Padilla’s children may have primary residence with their mother, and visit with their father on weekends and holidays.

In high-conflict cases where parents are unable to cooperate, the court may consider parallel parenting, which is a form of joint custody or decision-making for parents on major issues, such as health, education and religion for their child. Instead of each parent sharing decision-making for their child in every domain as in a traditional joint custody arrangement, in parallel parenting, parents assume full decision-making responsibility in different domains. One parent may be solely responsible for all medical and religious decisions concerning the child, while the other parent is solely responsible for all decisions concerning the child’s education and extracurricular activities.

Courts have declined to order parallel parenting in cases where the parents were completely unable to communicate, and their inability to cooperate would cause conflict for the child. However, some courts have made parallel parenting orders even in high-conflict cases in circumstances where it’s likely that a sole custody order will be abused and would not be in the best interests of the child. Notwithstanding the conflict between the parents, the parents in these cases were caring, capable, and beneficially involved in their child’s life.

In sole custody arrangements, one parent has custody of the children. The children reside with the parent who has sole custody and the other parent may or may not have access and visitation rights. In split custody arrangements, one parent has custody of some of the children, and the other parent has custody of the other children. This type of arrangement is uncommon as the courts are unlikely to split children from their siblings. However, in some circumstances, it may be beneficial for one child to be separated from their siblings and to live with the other parent.

In making an order for custody or access, the courts may consider factors such as who the primary caregiver was during the marriage; each parent’s capability to provide for the children’s needs; logistics in terms of pick-ups, drop-offs, and extra-curricular scheduling; each parent’s ability to spend time with the children; and any special requirements the children may have. Ultimately, Padilla will need to show how the specific custody and access arrangement she is seeking is the best option to meet their children’s needs.