Why get a lawyer’s help in child custody cases? it’s a very common question. There can be various problems between spouses which can eventually lead to separation. Property division, issues of spousal support, and other financial issues may face the separating individuals. But without question, if there are children involved, almost certainly this will be the biggest issue you face. No amount of money can compare to this issue. If you have more than one child, then they will be likely to be kept together and not separated by application of the law and the courts. There are exceptional circumstances where children might be separated but they are rare.
The parties are free to make mutual agreements which can then be brought to the court for approval. Any such agreements must be fair and reasonable, not only between the parties, but if there are children involved, the courts will look at such agreements from the perspective of the child and decide what is in the child’s best interests. It is not always possible to make an agreement unless the lawyers can show that such an agreement is in the best interests of the child.
This is where a good advocate is so crucial, because there are tactical considerations, evidentiary considerations, strategic planning which go into every legal case, and cases surrounding divorce, custody, access, parenting time, are no exception to this rule.
And like any other legal case, having a lawyer assist you is critical to achieve the best possible outcome as the lawyers are trained in the law and have gone to university to learn it and are highly skilled professionals. Choose one whom you trust. Our divorce custody lawyers Calgary would be more than happy to guide you through the legal process.
What does the term child custody mean?
Child custody at its most basic description is the ability of one or other of the parents to have the care and control of the children. This necessarily includes sorting out all the issues for the child including schooling, religion, church attendance, medical procedures as basic as going to see the dentist, whether to get needles for vaccines. This list has no end. Some children play basketball, some children have other interests and pursuits, playing a musical instrument, whatever the case may be, this gives an idea what is meant by custody.
Custody has nothing to do with parenting time. Although, that said, usually, if there is sole custody granted to one of the parents, it would be odd if that parent were not in fact the one with the most parenting time or at least 50:50 parenting time.
It is also often common to have a joint custody situation. Joint custody means that you both can have input into what happens with the child. This can be problematic because then, if the parents cannot agree, you could end up back in court. So what the courts can also do, and can be asked to do by your Calgary Family Lawyer, is to have joint custody but with a sort of tie breaker in favour of one or other of the parents.
This way, if the parent in joint custody disagree, one parent can ultimately decide but the other parent has to be consulted. So the parent with the tie break cannot make decisions without letting the other parent know and has to listen to the other parent’s ideas about it but ultimately can make whatever decision he or she thinks best, following consultation with the other parent.
Child custody decisions can be taken up until the child reaches the age of majority, moves out of the house, but if the child is in post secondary education or has other special needs, they may be considered a child for longer and be the subject of the purview of the divorce proceeding, especially in terms of paying for such activities more so than in any decision making sense as the child is almost an adult now and will be making decisions for themselves. If the child so chooses to go to university, it is no longer a matter of who has custody but becomes a matter of who must pay.
Types of child custody and parenting time arrangements
It is typical that the child will have to live with a parent who has the custody and that the other parent, who may also have joint custody, will have “parenting time”. The courts more or less strive for equal parenting time. But this depends on the parties schedules, work schedules, and abilities to work it into the schedule. It may be that it is unworkable for various reasons. It may be that there are long distances involved. It may be that one parent has weekdays and the other parent has weekends. There are any number of scenarios.
In some cases there can be a so called nesting order where the children stay in one house and the parents come in and out. So one parent could be home one week and the other parent could be home the next week. In every other week the parents need different places to live. The court will decide based on what they view to be in the best interests of the children. If the parents can come to some agreement like this, through the help of their lawyers, and put it before the court, these types of agreements do increasingly more routinely get approved by the court.
There are generally four types of child custody and parenting time:
- Joint custody: This means that both the parents have control and care of the children and will take all the major decisions together regarding their children. Note the comments above regarding the problems that can arise where the parents do not agree.
- Sole custody: Here, one parent can make all the decisions without even asking the other parent.
- Shared parenting time: Here, the child or children will basically live with each parent for 40% to 60% of the time. If this is the case, it would generally be considered shared parenting time and child support will be calculated according to the time that the child actually spends with each parent.
- Split parenting time: When there are more than one child, it may be that one child spends more time with one parent than the other but that other children of the marriage do not. For example, teenagers often decide that they would prefer to stay with one parent or the other but there may be younger children where this decision is inappropriate and it is certainly not uncommon for there to be a sort of split parenting time relationship where one child stays with each of the parents in different amounts of time.
The type of custody and parenting time which is appropriate is different from case to case. Speak to a Calgary Family Law Lawyer for help. Our law firm can help with cases under the Divorce Act, the Children’s Law Reform Act, the Alberta Family Law Act, et cetera, as well as the Federal Child Support Guidelines which govern how child support is calculated.
We always recommend that you speak to two or three lawyers, if not more, and then choose for yourself the best family law office in Calgary, Airdrie, or Okotoks. There are many equally good lawyers and one should be suspicious if you are told by a lawyer that they are the absolute best Calgary Family Lawyer. Our lawyers are experienced, compassionate, and ready to help. We take cases in Calgary, Airdrie, and Okotoks. We can help you with your case.
Why consult a child custody lawyer?
Getting a consultation from an experienced Calgary Family Lawyer helps you to ward off the confusion regarding custody, parenting time, and calculation of child support according to the Federal Child Support Guidelines.
A Calgary Family Lawyer can help you for peace of mind so that you do not have to deal with your spouse directly. In this way, your lawyer provides a sort of buffer zone where your lawyer might speak to your spouse directly or, preferably, if your spouse also has legal counsel, to your spouse’s lawyer. That way, you can speak to your lawyer and your lawyer handle it so that you are not getting into verbal disputes with your ex-spouse which will just make you more upset.
A lawyer will also fight for your rights and make sure that no one is not going to take advantage of you so that you get what they deserve according to Alberta law.