Before fighting for something, it is important to understand what you are fighting for. From this perspective, “custody” is often a misunderstood term.
Custody refers to decision-making authority. When parents share in decision-making authority, we speak of joint custody. When decision-making authority is invested in one parent, it is referred to as sole custody.
Custody therefore, is separate and apart from the time a child is under the care of either parent. Custody also rarely has any bearing on how a parent manages or what a parent does with a child while under their care. It is only about decision-making authority and most often as it applies to matters of faith, healthcare, education and extra-curricular activities.
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Toronto’s Experts in Family Law and Divorce
Upcoming changes to family law in Canada will remove the word custody and see it replaced with “parenting responsibilities.” This should remove some of that win-lose mentality parents may feel when they go to court for custody issues.
Being legally endowed with all parenting responsibilities is becoming less common. It is seen in the social science research that children are usually better served psychologically, socially and developmentally when both parents share in the decisions affecting their lives.
Appreciating though that some parents face unique challenges in arriving at mutual decisions affecting the children, courts may assign responsibility for certain decisions to one parent which may be more problematic for parents to resolve between themselves. Courts may also suggest that parents now avail themselves of other dispute resolutions processes, such as mediation, in order to avoid having to invest decision-making authority in one over another parent.
Given that trends in family law change over time, it can be instructive to speak with a family law lawyer if you believe there is a necessity for major decisions to be made on a one-sided basis. Your lawyer should be up-to-date on these trends and can advise you about what may be involved if seeking sole custody, as well as the likelihood of success.
However, better than sole custody may be resolving the issues that give rise to your perceived need. Court cannot provide for that resolution whereas alternate dispute resolution approaches such as mediation may facilitate discussion on those matters with a view to resolving concerns.