Child Custody Protecting Your Family's Interests for Over 25 Years

Ontario Child Custody Lawyers

Protecting Your Child Custody and Access Rights

When two people have a child together, each parent has an equal right and responsibility to take part in the upbringing of the child. The equal right to make decisions about their child’s care and how their child is raised exists whether or not the parents are married.

Typically in a two-parent, intact family, parents share the decision-making authority. When parents separate, however, they must arrange how they will share or divide their respective parenting rights and responsibilities. In other words, separating parents must make arrangements for child custody and access.

If you are divorcing or separating, you need a skilled lawyer to make sure your custody rights are protected. Feldstein Family Law Group P.C. has been serving clients across Ontario since 1994, and we have the necessary skill and experience in divorce and family law to effectively preserve your rights and interests.

Contact an Ontario child custody lawyer at our firm at (905) 581-7222 to see how we can help you. We serve Oakville, Mississauga, Vaughan, Markham, and all of Ontario.

What Is Custody?

Custody is the right to make the important decisions about the care and upbringing of a child. Custody includes the right to make decisions regarding the child’s religion, school and educational programs, and medical treatment.

Different types of custody include sole custody, joint custody, shared custody, and split custody:

Sole Custody

If a parent has sole custody of a child, it means that only one parent has the responsibility and legal authority to unilaterally make major decisions about the child’s care and how the child will be raised. Most commonly, the child lives primarily with the parent who has sole custody.

Sole decision-making authority is often given to only one parent where there is serious parental conflict; concerns of abuse, violence, drug or alcohol abuse; mental illness or demonstrated poor judgment. A sole custody arrangement helps mitigate concerns or limit risks in the life of the child.

Joint Custody

Where separated parents are in agreement on major issues affecting the life of their child and they have few or no concerns about each other’s judgment, they can opt for joint custody. Under this custody arrangement, both parents legally have an equal say about the major decisions affecting their child. Where there is a joint custody arrangement, neither parent has the right to unilaterally make major decisions about the child’s care. With joint custody, it is assumed that the parents can reach decisions either by consensus or by one acquiescing to the judgment of the other.

Typically, joint custody works best where there are low levels of conflict between the parents, or even where there is moderate conflict but the parents can resolve disputes maturely. When parents have joint custody of a child, the child may either live primarily with one parent or there may be a shared custody arrangement.

Shared Custody

Unlike the other custodial arrangements, shared custody has to do with the amount of time the child spends with each parent for the purpose of determining each parent’s respective child support obligation. Under the Child Support Guidelines, shared custody exists where a child lives at least 40% of the time with each parent. The 40% time can be comprised of weekends, overnights, and parts of vacations.

Split Custody

Although not very common, another type of custody arrangement is split custody. This exists where the parents have more than one child together, and each parent has one or more of the children living primarily with them.

What Is Access?

When one parent is awarded sole custody of the children, the other parent is normally granted the right of access. This is sometimes called visitation. In addition, if both parents have joint custody of a child, but the child’s primary residence is with one parent, the other parent is granted the right of access.

Access visits can either be unsupervised or supervised, depending on what is in the best interests of the child. Most often access is unsupervised. This is where the child goes to visit the parent, and no one else needs to be present while the child and the access parent are together.

A typical access schedule involves the child spending alternate weekends and one or two evenings or nights per week with the parent not having primary care and control of the child. Typically, the access parent will also share holidays, including statutory holidays (long weekends), winter school break, March break, and summer holidays.

Custody vs. Access

Once you and your former spouse/partner have made the decision to separate or divorce, there are a number of issues for the two of you to consider and resolve. If you have children, you will need to make some tough decisions about your kids’ custody and care. These decisions will have to be made whether you were legally married or living together as a common law couple. As separated or divorced parents, you will either be awarded custody of your children or given access to your children.

The main difference between custody and access is that, as the custodial parent, you usually have the power to make important decisions about the care and upbringing of your child with regards to:

  • Religion;
  • School and educational programs; and
  • Medical treatment.

On the other hand, if you are only granted access rights, as the non-custodial parent you have the right to:

  • Visit your child; and
  • Ask the custodial parent, your child’s teacher, doctor, daycare provider, etc. for information about:
    • Your child’s health;
    • Education; and
    • Welfare.

It is important to note that as an access parent you are not granted the authority to make any important decisions regarding the upbringing of your child. If a disagreement arises between you and your former spouse/partner, the custodial parent will make the final decision. However, the custodial parent in your situation must still consult with the access parent prior to making any final “important” decisions.

Marital status is relevant in order to determine which Act will apply to your particular situation. Therefore, if you are legally married and in the process of getting a divorce or have already obtained one, the Divorce Act R.S.C. 1985, c.3 will apply. For situations where you and your former spouse/partner are married and have decided not to obtain a divorce, are living together as a common law couple, or are not cohabitating but have a child together you must use the Children’s Law Reform Act R.S.O. 1990, c. C.12.

Find out more about custody and access as it relates to your individual situation. Call (905) 581-7222 today to speak with an Ontario custody lawyer about your rights.

Meet Our Dedicated Team of Lawyers

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    Andrew Feldstein

    Founder

    Andrew Feldstein graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1992. Prior to focusing exclusively on family law, Andrew’s legal practice covered many different areas, including corporate commercial. One of Andrew’s fundamental objectives is to achieve those goals mutually and collaboratively, as set out by him and his client.

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    Deleta Grandy

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    Deleta Grandy obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in 2012, where she graduated with Honours. She completed her legal studies at Western Law School, graduating with a Juris Doctor in 2016.

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    Jeff Hart

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    Jeff obtained his Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Classical Studies from McMaster University before attending law school at Queen’s.

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    Daphna Schwartz

    Lawyer

    Location: Markham Daphna Schwartz joined Feldstein Family Law Group, P.C. in 2007 as an associate lawyer. She was previously ...
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    Nick Slinko

    Lawyer

    Location: Vaughan Nick Slinko attended York University from 2003 until 2007 where he majored in both Law & Society and ...
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    Anna Troitschanski

    Lawyer

    Anna Troitschanski joined the team at Feldstein Family Law Group, P.C. in 2012. Prior to that, she practised Family Law at a boutique Newmarket firm. Her experience covers all areas of divorce and family law, including custody and access, child support, spousal support, and division of property.
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    Veronica Yeung

    Lawyer

    Veronica Yeung joined the Feldstein Family Law Group, P.C. as a summer student in 2014 and returned as an articling student in 2015. Following her call to the Ontario Bar in June 2016, Veronica was welcomed to the team as an associate lawyer.

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    Shana Gordon-Katz

    Lawyer

    Shana joined Feldstein Family Law Group P.C. as an articling student in 2017. Following her call to the Ontario Bar in June 2018, Shana was welcomed back to the firm as an associate. While completing her articles, Shana assisted with legal matters covering all areas of family law.

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    Shazia Hafiji

    Lawyer

    Shazia Hafiji joined Feldstein Family Law Group P.C. as a summer student in 2016 and returned as an articling student in 2017. Following her Call to the Ontario Bar in 2018, Shazia returned to the firm as an associate lawyer.

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    Lucy D'Ercole

    Lawyer

    Lucy D’Ercole joined Feldstein Family Law Group P.C. as a summer student in 2017 and returned as an articling student in 2018, during which she gained valuable experience in all areas of family law. Following her call to the Ontario Bar in 2019, Lucy was welcomed back to the firm as an associate lawyer.
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    Joy Pura

    Lawyer

    Joy Pura completed her legal studies and obtained a Juris Doctor at the University of Ottawa. Prior to that, she completed ...
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