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Family Law
 
Custody & Access
 

In family law, one of the most litigated areas is custody and access. Custody and access arrangements commands and shapes the landscapes of the separation agreement in terms of spousal support, child support and the division of property. For these reasons, it is crucial that you receive legal advice regarding custody and access as early as possible in the separation negotiation, in order to ensure that you understand and fully preserve your legal rights.

HTW Law provides effective legal representation during custody and access disputes. Most importantly, HTW Law listens, catering to the individual needs of the client. HTW Law understands that the cultural, ethnical, religious background and other concerns of each family is different, and these values and concern deserve special attention because you’re worth it.

HTW Law makes sure you are well-informed on every step of your family law case regarding custody and access, while also aggressively litigating on your behalf to the greatest extent permitted by law if necessary.

 

The Difference Between Custody and Access

In family law, “custody” refers to a parent or guardian’s legal responsibility to make decisions for a child related to health, education and religion. Custody is not about who your child lives with or how much time your child spends with the parents. In comparison, “access” refers to the right of the parent to spend time with a child.

The most common ones are joint custody and sole custody. Joint custody means that both parents together make major decisions about their child's life. Sole custody means that only one of the parents makes these major decisions. Although a parent who has only “access” right but not “custody” right has no role in making decisions, he/ she is still entitled to the right to receive information about the child's education, health, and well-being, even if he/ is not a “custodian” and has no role in making decisions for their children. Although custody is not about where your child lives, but child customarily lives with the custodian parent.

One important issues in family law that seems to pop up quite a lot is regarding name changes of child. Pursuant to the Change of Name Act, the application to change the name of a child requires, among other things, the written consent of any person with lawful custody of the child or any person whose consent is necessary in accordance with a court order or separation agreement, as well as the child’s consent if the child is over the age of 12 and is capable of consenting. The keyword here is “Custody”. Although a notice of the application must be given to every person who is lawfully entitled to access to the child, the consent of a non-custodial parent is not required to consent, unless stated otherwise in a Court Order or a separation agreement.

Contractual Limits Related to Custody and Access

As you can see, you want to make sure you have proper legal representation for something as important as custody and access of your child. If you have been offered with a separation agreement or is involved in a court proceeding, mediation or arbitration involving custody and access, you want to make sure you are making informed decisions after the full appreciation of relevant legal jurisprudence affecting your family law rights and obligations.

HTW Law can help. Call us now at 647-849-6582 or send us a message if you have some legal questions / inquiries or want to schedule an appointment with HTW Law.

 

Grandparents' Custody and Access Rights

 

With the passage of Bill 34, (Section 21 (1) of the Children’s Law Reform Act), grandparents now have the right to make an argument for custody and access. Bill 34, however, does not automatically grant a grandparent  access/custody. It is in the discretion of the court to determine whether granting access/custody to a grandparent will be in the best interests of the child in question, taking into account the specific circumstances at hand.

When determining the best interests of a child, many factors will be considered, including but not limited to, the following factors:

  • Affection, love, and emotional ties that exist between:

    • The child and the party/parties requesting access or custody;

    • Other family members currently living with the child; and

    • Other people involved in the upbringing and care of the child.

    • The preferences of the child, if these can be determined.

  • How long the child has lived in a stable home environment.

  • Each party’s (parent, grandparent, or other party requesting custody or access) ability and willingness to provide for the child’s needs and to act as a parent, including:

    • Their proposed custody or access plan;

    • The stability and permanence of their family unit; and

    • Their biological relationship or adoptive relationship with the child;

  • Why parents don't want the grandparents to have access to the child;

  • The relationship the grandparents and the child had in the past;

  • Whether the grandparents have been the child's caregiver in the past;

  • Whether the child has lived with the grandparents;

  • The role the grandparents can play in the child's life.

However, it is of interest to take note that under the Children’s Law Reform Act, in assessing a person’s ability to act as a parent, the court usually will not consider a person’s past conduct, unless it’s related to violence or abuse against

  • (a) his or her spouse;

  • (b) a parent of the child to whom the application relates;

  • (c) a member of the person’s household; or

  • (d) any child. 

and unless it’s conduct that’s is otherwise relevant in determining the person’s ability to act as a parent.

It all comes down to the best interests of the child, and the process is quite technical. HTW Law can help. Call us now at 647-849-6582 or send us a message if you have some legal questions / inquiries or want to schedule an appointment with HTW Law.