When parties separate, they need to arrange how they will share the parenting of their children. The direction of an experienced lawyer can be helpful in finding lawful and amicable resolutions. This can prevent the unpleasant battles that sometimes arise concerning child custody.

Custody refers to a bundle of rights and responsibilities. A person who is awarded custody is responsible for the child on a daily basis and the person makes the major decisions on behalf of the child. Section 20 (1) of the Children’s Law Reform Act states that “ except as otherwise provided in this Part, the father and the mother of a child are equally entitled to custody of the child”.[1]


A person who is granted access has the right to visit with the child. He or she also has the right to ask for and be given information about the child’s health, education, and well-being from the other parent or places, such as schools.

Reasonable Access

If the parents are able to co-operate, the access arrangements can be left open and flexible instead of having a detailed schedule. This is sometimes called “reasonable access” or “liberal and generous access”.

Fixed Access

In some circumstances, the terms of access include a specific and detailed schedule. This is often called “fixed access” or “specified access”. The terms may cover things like holidays, long weekends, children’s birthdays and religious occasions.

Supervised Access

 In some situations, access may need to be supervised by another person. Some of the examples are as follows:

  •  the parent has a drinking or drug problem,
  • the parent has abused the child in the past, or
  • has threatened to take the child away from the other parent.

Both the Federal Divorce Act[2] and the provincial Children’s Law Reform Act [3] provide the Court jurisdiction to determine custody and access matters. Both the Children’s Law Reform Act and the Divorce Act base the merits of the application for custody and access on the best interests of the child.

Sole or Joint Custody

The Court also has the authority to order sole or joint custody.

Sole custody refers to when only one parent can make major decisions with respect to the child. Joint custody gives each parent the right to have an input into major child related decisions. Joint custody does not necessarily mean that parents share equal time with the child. However, sometimes that might be the case. Joint custody refers to the legal decision making and not the residential arrangements.

Parental Conduct

As outlined in subsection 16(9) of the Divorce Act and subsection 24(3) of the CLRA, a parent’s conduct will only be considered by the court if the conduct is relevant to the ability of that person to act as a parent of a child. Physical violence is an aspect of conduct more likely to be taken into account in custody and access matters.

Contact us for Assistance

Our experience helps us work with worried parents in resolving the often emotional child custody decisions. To discuss your specific child custody and access concerns, please contact us at (905) 576-6090 ext 228 or Toll free 1-877-405-5004.

[1] Children’s Law Reform Act, R.S.). 1990, c. C.12

[2] Divorce Act, RSC 1985, c # (2nd Supp)

[3] Children’s Law Reform Act, R.S.). 1990, c. C.12