A decision about child custody, access and support involves the parents – and if necessary, the courts – reaching a delicate balance between the interests of the child on the one hand, and the interests of the parents.
Indeed, whenever a court is obliged to step in, the Family Law Act and the Children’s Law Reform Act governs that intervention, and requires the court to apply the societally-approved principles that:
1) each parent has both rights and obligations in connection with a child; and
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2) any determinations as to child custody, access and guardianship be made with the children’s best interests in mind.
Moreover, these parental obligations continue long after the parents may have separated or divorced from each other, and must be mutually shared. In necessary cases, the legislation also provides for the appointment of the Children’s Lawyer to participate in a child custody, access or guardianship case, in order to serve as a third-party intervenor who ensures that the child’s best interests are being safeguarded and promoted by the parents.
It should be noted that the “best interests” of a child do not always dictate that both parents will be treated equally; there is no obligation for a court to ensure that each parent has the same amount of time with a child, or that each parent has an equal say in how that child is raised. Rather, in order to foster the child’s best interests it is sometimes necessary that one parent has sole custody, with liberal access granted to the other, or that one parent pay a greater share toward the child’s financial support.
Shulman Law Firm is a Toronto-area firm of experienced Family Lawyers who can provide practical advice and effective representation relating to child custody, access, guardianship and support. Contact us to set up a consultation.