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Child Custody Changes: A Guide to Modifying Your Agreement

Modification of Custody Orders: How to Change Your Custody Agreement

March 13, 2024

Going through child custody orders can be challenging, especially when you have to change the original orders. It’s important to know how to change custody decisions in Canada, whether you are a parent who has dealt with the court system before or this is your first time dealing with family law issues. Let’s check the details.

Different Types of Child Custody

Before you start the process of changing your child custody order, let’s first understand the types of child custody:

  • Sole custody gives one parent the legal ability to make critical decisions concerning the child’s health, religion, and education.
  • Joint custody is when each parent has a right to make choices about the child. This arrangement compels parents to work together on critical child-related choices.
  • Split custody is another option, which is less common. In this case, one kid may live with one parent and another with the other. This custody is rare and usually considered when it benefits each kid.

Modification of Custody Orders

When significant changes happen, our previously perfect arrangements might need a little change – custody agreements included. Orders for custody are not set in stone and modifications of custody orders are a very common thing. If there is a big change in the child’s life that affects their well-being, these orders can be changed. These are all valid reasons to consider a modification:

  • Change in Living Conditions: What if one parent moves out or there’s a change in the living situation that’s not just a fresh coat of paint? Maybe your child’s daily life changes because you move to a new place for a job or because there are big changes in the family.
  • Changes in the Parents’ Lives: Things can go wrong in life, like getting a new job, having a health problem, or even meeting someone new. These aren’t just small dots on the screen, they’re big changes that can make it harder for parents to care for their kids the same way or keep up the same lifestyle. Like having to change the sails on a boat to keep going smoothly through rough water.
  • What the Child Wants: As kids get older, their words get bigger, both in terms of loudness and weight. Once your child is bigger and smarter, they may have a strong sense of where and with whom they want to live. If they express a preference about their living situation, it’s worth listening and considering if it aligns with their best interests.
  • Not following the Current Order: If one parent breaks the parenting order over and over again, the other parent may try to change it.

How the Law Works in Canada

In Canada, there are several steps needed to change a custody order:

1. Legal Advice

Before going to court, you should talk to a family lawyer who knows the rules in your province or territory and is well-versed in child custody and access rights in Canada.

What are Child Custody and Access Rights in Canada?

In Canada, the law emphasizes the child’s best interests. Access rights allow the non-custodial parent (the parent who does not have primary residence) to spend time with the child. It is important to understand that modifying custody does not necessarily mean altering access rights, although both can be reviewed if the child’s welfare is at stake.

A family lawyer can provide advice on the likelihood of a successful modification and help prepare your case. Nowadays, you can find a lawyer through a legal services marketplace, a platform that connects you with professionals suited to your specific needs.

2. Application for Change

The parent who wants to make the change must apply with the court that made the original custody order. In this application, you should explain why the desired change is needed and how it will benefit the child.

The other parent must be given the application and be given a chance to reply. They can agree with the changes, disagree with them, or suggest other changes that should be made.

3. Settlement

Before a case goes to court, some places either encourage or require settlement. With the help of a neutral third party, mediation is a way for both parents to try to reach a deal without going to court.  Parenting plans often come out of these mediations, tailored to fit the new circumstances and focusing on the child’s well-being.

What is a Parenting Plan?

It’s an agreement to tell how they will raise their child after separation or divorce. The main aim? To keep things as stable and loving as possible for the children, make sure they always know what to expect and that they’re the top priority.

4. Hearing in Court

If a settlement doesn’t work or isn’t needed, the case will go to court. Both parents will have a chance to make their case and show proof, which could include testimony from witnesses or legal professionals.

The judge will make a choice based on the information that was given and what they think is best for the child. This could mean keeping things the same, changing the parenting plan as asked, or making a different change.

Tips That Work

  • Documentation: Write down in detail any events that you think should lead to a change in the parenting order. Things that could be on this list are talking to the other parent, moving, or worrying about the child’s well-being.
  • What’s best for the child: Always think about how the changes will help the child. The child’s health, safety, and happiness are the court’s main concerns.
  • Professional help: If you need help getting through the process, you might want to talk to a lawyer, a counsellor, or an arbitrator.

Other Law Requirement to Know

The Need for Evaluations of Child Custody

A child custody evaluation may be done if the parents can’t agree on who should have control or if the court thinks it’s appropriate. An experienced professional, such as a psychologist, will do this thorough review to suggest the best parenting plan for the child.

Child Support in Canada

Legally, parents have to pay child support in Canada, which is money to help support their child. It is important to remember that changing who has control can also change who has to pay child support. Child support is usually based on how much money each parent makes and how many kids they have. If the parents’ plans for childcare change, child support payments may need to be looked at again.

Adoption in Canada

Adoption takes away the child’s legal rights and duties from the original parents (or whoever had those rights) for good. They are now owned by the adopted parents. Even though changing custody is not the same as adopting a child in Canada, knowing a lot about family law can help people who are thinking about all of their choices for taking care of a kid.

To conclude, in Canada, you have to show that there has been a big change in your life that affects the child’s best interests to change a custody order. Parents who are thinking about this step need to know about the different types of custody, the role of evaluations, and the court process. It is possible to get through these changes without problems if you get the right help and information. If you’re looking for guidance every step of the way, consider subscribing to Lawvo for legal advice and insights tailored to your needs.

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