Changing Custody & Access Arrangements Protecting Your Family's Interests for Over 25 Years

Ontario Custody Variations

Changing Custody & Access Arrangements

In order to change an existing custody or access arrangement, you must apply to the court to “vary” (change) the previous order. To succeed with a variation application, you must be able to prove to the court that there has been a change in the “condition, means needs or other circumstances of the child” (Divorce Act, s. 16(8)).

While the Divorce Act permits an order to be varied, the threshold for establishing a material change, as set out in the case law, is a difficult one to meet. The particularly high threshold helps to ensure that parties may rely on orders made by the court, and to prevent the overburdening of the judicial system with immaterial claims. However, parents may have pressing and legitimate reasons for wanting to change existing orders. For example, a parent may need to relocate to another region for the purposes of work or education, or the type of custody agreed upon might no longer be a viable solution for the parties involved.

Canadian Case Law on Changing Custody or Access

In Gordon v. Goertz, the Supreme Court of Canada stated that for the court to find that the material change threshold is met, the judge must be satisfied that there has been:

  • A change in the condition, means, needs, or circumstances of the child or in the ability of the parents to meet the needs of the child,
  • Which materially affects the child, and
  • Which was either not foreseen or could not have been reasonably contemplated by the judge who made the initial order.

This third part of the test, that the change was not foreseen or in the reasonable contemplation of the judge who made the initial order, is the most difficult aspect of the test to meet. For example, a parent who wants to move to be with a new partner may try to argue that the relationship constitutes a material change, but the court may find that, if that relationship was in existence (even in a very preliminary stage) at the time of the original order, it does not represent a change.

For information on how to apply to vary a court order, see the Child Support Forms section.

A Skilled Ontario Custody Lawyer Can Guide You

The variation process is both time consuming and complex and may require legal expertise. An experienced Ontario family law lawyer can be a valuable resource if you are contemplating a variation to an existing order or agreement. At Feldstein Family Law Group P.C., we can deliver a range of legal services tailored to your needs and budget. From complete representation to drafting or consulting services, we can help you approach a variation in custody or access.

Contact our firm at (905) 581-7222 to arrange a free in-office consultation and review of your case.

Meet Our Dedicated Team of Lawyers

Over a Century of Collective Experience
  • Andrew  Feldstein Photo
  • Deleta  Grandy Photo
  • Jeff  Hart Photo
  • Daphna  Schwartz Photo
  • Nick  Slinko Photo
  • Anna  Troitschanski Photo
  • Veronica  Yeung Photo
  • Shana  Gordon-Katz Photo
  • Shazia  Hafiji Photo
  • Lucy  D'Ercole Photo
  • Joy  Pura Photo
  • Andrew  Feldstein Photo
    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.

  • Deleta  Grandy Photo
    Deleta Grandy

    Lawyer

    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.

  • Jeff  Hart Photo
    Jeff Hart

    Lawyer

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

  • Daphna  Schwartz Photo
    Daphna Schwartz

    Lawyer

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

    Lawyer

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

  • Shana  Gordon-Katz Photo
    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.

  • Shazia  Hafiji Photo
    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.

  • Lucy  D'Ercole Photo
    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.
  • Joy  Pura Photo
    Joy Pura

    Lawyer

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

We're Committed to You

  • Convenient Meeting Locations

    Our team is able to meet with you and provide quality family law legal services in Markham, Oakville, Mississauga, Vaughan, and the surrounding areas.

  • Quick Response Times by Email & Phone

    This is one of the most difficult times in your life and our goal is to help make this transition as smooth as possible. To help put your mind at ease we ensure that our team is always available to guide you.

  • Free In-Office Consultations*

    We understand you have questions and need guidance on your next step. We make getting these questions answered as easy as possible. We offer free consultation* for our new clients.

  • 25 Years of Experience

    Experience Matters. Our founding attorney has over 25 years of experience in the legal field. As a firm you get over a century of dedicated legal experience advocating for your family's best interests. 

Take the First Step

Fill out the form below to begin your free in-office consultation with one of our experienced lawyers or call us at 905-581-7222.
  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.