Often the most complicated and emotional issue in a divorce is child custody. The subject typically evokes a lot of confusion and even more questions. Whether your child custody agreement is informal, oral, part of the separation agreement, the result of mediation, or a court ordered decision, there is a code of conduct one must abide by to ensure child custody continues uninterrupted. A Toronto divorce lawyer will advise any parent to avoid engaging in any of the activities that appear on the list below. To do so, might jeopardize one’s legal right to access to one’s child.
If one parent can demonstrate that there have been significant and material changes in the life of the other parent that will affect the child, he or she can apply for a change in the child custody agreement. Of course, life is dynamic and full of changes. Custody variations will only occur if these changes have a detrimental affect of the child’s development. Legislation provides that the court must take into account only “the best interests of the child” when making such decisions.
On a basic level, any behaviour that would elicit attention from the Children’s Aid Society (CAS), will likely affect the child custody agreement. If you suspect that your co-parent is currently demonstrating any of the following behaviour, please contact your Toronto divorce lawyer immediately. Remember, your spouse’s past conduct will not be considered by the court, unless specifically related to the child.
- Substance abuse
- Physical, emotional, sexual abuse
- Inability or unwillingness to provide medical care to the child
On a more nuanced level, the best interests of the child must always be at the forefront of every decision, whether inside or outside the court. A Toronto divorce lawyer can help you to assess under which circumstances you should apply for a variation on child custody. Any parent undergoing significant changes in his/her life may expose him/herself to reduced custody. Stability, consistency and the smooth adherence to the child’s routine are powerful denominators in the child custody equation. For example, if one parent moves to a different city, the child custody agreement may be revisited. Therefore, it is advisable to first discuss any potential “big” decisions, such as moving to another city, with your Toronto divorce lawyer.
There are other, less obvious, behaviours that can put access to one’s children at risk. Regardless of the type of child custody agreement: sole, joint, shared or split; each parent has particular
responsibilities and obligations to the other. Engaging in any of the following activities may provide grounds for the other parent to apply for a change in the child custody agreement.
- Restricting or denying the other parent’s legal rights to access his/her child
- Indoctrinating the child to alienate the other parent
- Refusing to share information about the child’s general wellbeing, whereabouts, or health
- Making major decisions about the child without consulting the other parent (depending on the custody type)
A Toronto divorce lawyer is the ultimate aide for the inevitably difficult conflict between parents. Child custody battles require specialized knowledge. Moreover, facing the possibility of a change in custody will likely elicit a tremendous emotional reaction. A Toronto divorce lawyer is and will continue to be your voice of reason and the best advocate for you, and your child.