Custody, Access & Parenting Plans

Custody, Access & Parenting Plans

When separated parents cannot agree on appropriate care arrangements for their children, the dispute is often complicated and difficult to resolve. With recent changes to the law, the legal concepts of “custody” and “access” are no longer valid in Ontario. A new legal framework based around parenting time and decision-making authority has now been put into place. These can be difficult and stressful concepts to navigate.

In Ontario, custody may be agreed upon or ordered by the court. Custody is a complicated concept, one that is frequently misunderstood by parents in crisis. Custody, which can be joint, sole or shared, is different from where a child primarily resides. In some recent cases, a specific “custody” term may not even be required.

For most parents, the most important issue for them is the parenting plan that is put into place for their child or children. A separated couple’s parenting plan may cover an array of issues, including who is to care for their child at given times throughout the week, how holidays will be divided, how responsibilities for decision-making will be shared, and how expenses for the child will be incurred and who will pay. 


Creating a Plan 

Arrangements for children often evolve over time. A plan for children that worked well six months after your separation may need to be updated, or changed entirely, months or years later. Parents may want to move to another town or even another country, requiring entirely new plans to ensure that children have the maximum possible contact with both parents. It is common that creating and altering parenting plans is an ongoing effort that extends until children are adults.

Sometimes, parents do not act in the best interests of their children. There are cases where one parent alienates their child from the other parent. On occasion, one parent may simply, for various reasons, be unfit to look after their child without supervision or assistance. Issues of abuse, violence, mental health issues, drug and alcohol addiction, and other factors may further complicate the question of what is best for a child, and how to best achieve this result.

Now more than ever, families are more complicated than a “two parents and their children” model. The increasing prevalence of blended families may mean that there are three, or more, people who meet the definition of a “parent” for purposes of custody and access, and even support. Recent legislative amendments in Ontario have highlighted the important role of grandparents in the lives of children, and have reinforced the ability of such extended family members to seek orders and agreements for access to children.

Our firm has a long track record of dealing with the most sensitive and complicated of custody and access issues, including cases of parental alienation, grandparent access rights, shared parenting, and supervised access. Whatever your situation, the professionals at Woolcott Krashinksy LLP will help you make the best arrangements for children. We seek to ensure that the best interests of your child are always kept paramount. Let us help you decide on the custody and access arrangements that will work best for your family.

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