If you are getting divorced, you might be wondering what will happen to your family home. Will one party get to stay there? What about the children? How is child custody determined?
Again, family law is very complex and this article represents only one aspect of family law. Custody can also be broken down into three types: legal custody, physical custody, and joint legal custody.
Legal custody refers greatly to which parent has decision-making power when it comes to major decisions involving the child. Some examples of major decisions include where to go school, what religion the family practices, etc.
Physical custody refers to which parent has actual physical possession of the child or children. Thus, if one parent has physical custody it means that this parent will have the day-to-day responsibility for caring for their child/children. They will also have the obligation to provide them with food, clothing, shelter, etc. If one parent has sole physical custody of a child/children it means that they will not share this responsibility with anyone else; most often they are the only parent allowed contact with their children.
If there is any shared custody, then both parents will either share this same duty and obligation, or it could mean that each parent has the duty and obligation for a different number of days/nights depending on their specific agreement.
The family law system in Canada is structured with both parents having custody of their children unless there are exceptional circumstances (e.g., abuse, neglect, etc). If family law professionals discover that either parent poses a risk to the welfare of their child/children, then they can become ineligible for custody or visitation rights, or their custody rights could be limited. This usually leads family law professionals to lean towards giving both parents joint custody regardless of the family law professionals’ personal opinions on this subject (because family law professionals often don’t think it is fair for a parent to lose their child/children when there is no evidence that they pose a risk). Many family law professionals believe that if family law was truly objective then it wouldn’t be titled “best interests of the children.”