How Do You Get Joint Custody of Your Kids in Ontario?
Today, more than ever, parents want to be involved in every aspect of decision-making for their children.
When should separated parents have equal decision-making for their children?
Hi, my name is Thomas O’Malley. I’m an experienced family lawyer in Durham Region and the GTA.
April and Nathan have joint custody of their sons, Jacob and Richard. April wants to change the court order from joint custody to sole custody.
These parents have been involved in endless fights and conflict over Jacob.
These have included miscommunication, and deliberate failure to communicate, about medical issues affecting the children; conflict about the choice of healthcare providers for the children (i.e. naturopath/medical doctor: hygienist/dentist); enrolment (by Nathan, the father) of the children in activities despite the objection of the mother and which impacted a child’s, or the children’s, time with the mother; audio-recording of interactions between the parties and between the children and the other parent (by the mother); video-recording (by the father), the father then penalizing the mother afterwards by withholding the children from her to make up for his lost time (and making her late for work); and involvement (by both parties) of the local child protection society (“the Society”) and the police.
One thing that parents can learn from April and Nathan is…
But before I explain what parents can learn from, let me point out the factors which tend to show whether parents should or should not have joint custody of their children:
- Joint custody should not be ordered where there is poor communication and the parties fundamentally disagree on too many issues affecting the child’s best interests.
- Courts do not expect communication between separated parties to be easy or comfortable, or free of conflict. A standard of perfection is not required and is obviously not achievable. The issue is whether a reasonable measure of communication and cooperation is in place and is achievable in the future, so that the best interests of the child can be ensured on an ongoing basis.
- Where a conflict between parents(such as an inability to communicate effectively) is primarily the fault of one parent, that parent should not be able to use the conflict as justification to oppose a joint or shared parenting To do so allows a difficult parent to engineer a result in his or her favour. However, where the conflict is extreme and there is substantial blame to be levelled against both parents, a joint or shared custody approach is not appropriate.
The court found that April and Nathan had too much conflict in their situation to keep a joint custody order. The court found that April should have sole custody of Jacob based on the facts of that case.
Make sure you spend some time with your family lawyer discussing this important issue in your separation or divorce.
If you have any questions about your separation, divorce or family law case and you would like our help, there’s a few ways to contact our office. You can leave a message on my Facebook law office page, visit my website at www.canadiandivorcelegaladvice.com, or call me directly at 905-434-8837. We would be happy to speak to you.
Oh, by the way, did you know you can protect your family law rights and get essential information on settling your family law issues with your former spouse with the daily indispensable family law advice and tips at my FREE Facebook group?
Click here to find out more: Durham Region Separation and Divorce Legal Support Group