Child Custody and Support
The Federal Child Support Guidelines are laws that guardians must follow for child support claims. The Federal Divorce Act and the Family Law Act govern all child support in Ontario, Canada. Claims for child support are usually made under the Federal Divorce Act as part of a divorce proceeding. If the parties were never married or separated instead of divorcing, claims are typically made under Ontario’s Family Law Act. Both of these acts can disregard the Child Support Guidelines only if special provisions have been made for the child, like a division of property for the child’s benefit, or both spouses have signed a domestic contract that specifies a different amount than the guidelines. AGB Lawyers provides guardians in Ottawa, ON child support services to ensure the child and parent have adequate monetary support.
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.
Child Custody Considerations
Additionally, some other factors that are of concern are:
- The level of involvement with the non-custodial parent, in the life of the child or children;
- How the child feels about the relocation prospects;
- The added inconvenience to the non-custodial parent; and
- The overall effect the move can have, such as greater earnings of the custodial parent, the opportunity to enrol into a better education system, etc..
Accordingly, the first suggestion is always going to be for the parents to attempt to work the logistics out on their own. However, even with a mediator involved outside of the courtroom the situation can become quite heated. The unfortunate circumstances that surround this kind of dispute here in Ontario is that there is no sort of legal levy to address such a reality.
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).
Importance of a Child Support Court Order
Many divorcing couples agree through mediation on child support payment. Others choose to obtain a court order. A court order is beneficial to the payor spouse because there is always the risk that the other spouse denies receiving the money. Obtaining a court order gives proof the payor is paying the correct amount through the Family Responsibility Office (FRO). The person receiving the support can enforce the support payments when they are registered with the FRO. Both parties have a record of payments and the amount each month. They are always welcome to amend the court order to change the payments at any time.