Custody And Access

It is easy to confuse these two terms. People often use them interchangeably, but legally, Custody and Access are two very different concepts.

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Custody is about who will make major decisions for your children.  Custody does not apply to smaller, day-to-day decisions such as whether your children will go to a friend's Birthday Party or what they will eat for dinner.  Instead, Custody is about major decisions for your children, such as who their doctor will be, what (if any) medications they will take, what school they will attend, and what (if any) religion they will be taught to practice.  

There Are Different Types of Custody

There are different types of Custody.  The two most common types of Custody are Joint Custody and Sole Custody. 

Joint CustodY

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Joint Custody means that both (or all) parents make major decisions for their children together.  Joint Custody is the most common type of Custody because in most cases, all parents are capable of making decisions for their children, and it is usually best for children to have all of their parents involved in making these decisions.  Unless there are reasons against doing so, Joint Custody is usually best for your children.

Joint Custody does not mean that you and your spouse must speak with one another.  If you cannot be in the same room with your spouse, or even speak with each other on the telephone, then you may be able to make decisions regarding your children via e-mail, text message, or using parenting software designed to help parents communicate with one another about their children.

Sole CustodY

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However, if you and your spouse cannot make major decisions regarding your children together, Sole Custody may be the best option for your family.  Sole Custody means that one parent makes all of the major decisions for the children.  Sole Custody may be appropriate if you and your spouse cannot communicate effectively regarding your children, if your spouse is not capable of making reasonable decisions for your children, or if there are abuse issues.  

Split CustodY

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Another Custody option is Split Custody.  Split Custody can mean that one parent makes some decisions and the other parent(s) make other decisions.  For example, you could make all medical decisions for your children, and your spouse could make all educational decisions.

Doing What's Best For Your Children is what Matters Most

Deciding what type of Custody is best for your family involves determining which Custody regime is best for your children.  What is best for you or your spouse may not be relevant; what is best for your children is what matters most.

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What Does Access Mean?

In contrast to Custody, Access is about time spent with your children.   Access is often called "Parenting Time".  In order to resolve the Access issues in your matter, you should think about your schedule, your spouse's schedule, and your children's schedules to come up with a Parenting Time Schedule that works best for your children.  Making a detailed Parenting Time Schedule is important because it will help you and your spouse know who should be with the children when, and who will be responsible for taking your children wherever they need to go.

Create A Parenting Time Schedule

It is very important that you create a Parenting Time Schedule that works well for your children because once you create a Parenting Time Schedule, it can be difficult to change it.  A consistent schedule can help you provide your children with the stability that they need, so changing the Parenting Time Schedule often may not be best for your children.

It is also important to be flexible.  If a special occasion or an unforeseen issue arises, it is important that you to do insist upon strict adherence to the Parenting Time Schedule.  For example, if your children are invited to a party on your spouse’s side of the family during their time with you, you should probably allow them to go to the party.  Or, if you are late picking up the children because of poor weather conditions, your spouse should be understanding.  A good Parenting Time Schedule should help create a balance between certainty and flexibility.

Just like resolving Custody issues, creating a Parenting Time Schedule is about what is best for your children, and not what is most convenient to you or your spouse. 

If you have any concerns about the safety of your children while they are with your spouse, you should speak with a lawyer about these concerns right away.  If these concerns are serious, you may have an obligation to contact the Children’s Aid Society.

To book a free consultation please call:  (905) 237-5548