Child Custody & Support From AGB Lawyers
Experience tells us that while the terms “child support” and “child custody” and soon “parental decision-making”, may seem simple enough, they are not commonly understood.
What Is Child Custody or Parental Decision-Making?
It is important to note that as of July 1, 2020, child custody will now be referred to as “parental decision-making”. Child custody refers to a parent’s responsibility to make major decisions about a child’s care. It also means having the decision-making rights towards the child(ren). Usually, the child(ren) live primarily with the parent(s) who have custody or “parental decision-making responsibility”. This can be one parent or both parents who can have joint decision-making authority.
Types of Child Custody or Parental Decision-Making
There are several different forms of custody. Here are some of the main ones:
“Sole” custody involves one parent making all the major decisions that affect the child, although the other parent will usually have the right to be informed of those decisions. In these situations, the child generally lives full-time with one parent, and the other parent is allowed access (and as of July 1, 2020 called “parenting time”) on a pre-determined schedule.
“Joint” custody, in contrast, means the parents are jointly responsible for making all major decisions pertaining to the child (such as those affecting the child’s health, education, religious upbringing, and extracurricular activities). Day-to-day decisions about the child are still left to the parent with whom the child is residing on that day. Joint custody does not mean that the child spends equal time with each parent. Decision-making responsibilities can be shared even if the child lives primarily with one parent.
“Shared” custody and shared custody arrangements focus on the child’s schedule and the proportion of time spent in each parent’s care. This is different from joint custody, which focuses only on decision-making responsibility. In an equal shared-custody arrangement, decisions are made jointly, and the child spends about half of the time with each parent. Shared custody requires the child to be with each parent at least 40% of the time.
Temporary custody orders pertain to the time during custody proceedings where a decision must still be made on where the child resides during the course of these proceedings. If the parents cannot agree on the living arrangements for the child(ren), the Judge will make an Order for temporary custody based on different factors.
Who Decides on the Child Custody or Parental Decision-Making Arrangement?
Similar to the preparation of a Separation Agreement, the parents will try to reach a mutually agreeable solution regarding the custody or parental decision-making arrangement for the child(ren). Most parents prefer this option as it is generally less expensive, potentially less disruptive to the child(ren)’s lives, and often takes less time to reach finality than proceeding to Court.
If the parents are unable to reach a mutually agreeable solution regarding the custody or parental decision-making arrangement for the child(ren), going to Court may be the best option to determine the necessary arrangement. In such cases, Courts will take many factors into consideration, however, the main test is based on what is in the best interests of the child(ren).