Misconceptions of Sole Custody
Hi, I’m Veronica Yeung, a lawyer with Feldstein Family Law Group.
I encounter a lot of custody cases in my work, and there are several misconceptions about sole custody that come up frequently.
Custody, whether it is joint or sole is not about who the children live with or the amount of time spent with them. Rather, custody is about the authority to make decisions governing the children and their lives. These can include decisions include:
- religious attendance, and
- extracurricular activities.
Therefore, as the name might suggest, sole custody grants one parent the exclusive decision-making authority over the children. Joint custody, on the other hand, grants both parents equal authority so that they must make major decisions together and be in agreement.
Often, people mistakenly think that if they do not have custody that they will not have a right to information about the children. This is not the case. Custodial parents must provide information regarding the children to the access parents. Even if the access parent does not have authority to make decisions based on this information, they still have an interest in their child’s well-being and therefore are entitled to information such as a change in education or health.
Custody does not equal carte blanche decision making authority for the custodial parent where it interferes with the access parent financially or with respect to their access time.
The access parent has a right to know where his or her children are residing. There is a common misconception regarding mobility rights, which is the right to move a child’s residence. A parent with sole custody cannot simply move or travel with the child without first getting the consent of the access parent, especially if their access to the child will be impacted. The access parent’s consent is generally required if the custodial parent wants to relocate the child to a location (i.e. another city, province, country, etc.) that may change the access parent’s access schedule.
The necessity of the access parent’s consent also extends to the registering and enrolling of a child in extracurricular activities. A custodial parent cannot unilaterally enroll or register a child in an activity that requires the access parent’s financial contribution or interferes with the access parent’s parenting time without said access parent’s prior consent.
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