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Types of Child Custody: Understanding Legal and Physical Custody

Types of Child Custody: Understanding Legal and Physical Custody

March 09, 2024

It can be hard to figure out kid custody issues, especially when your family is going through a lot of mental changes. In Canada, parents and guardians who want to make the best decisions for their children need to know the difference between legal and physical custody, as well as the types of child custody.

They also need to know about child support and adoption. This guide tries to make these difficult topics easier to understand by giving clear, thorough explanations and live examples.

Main Types of Child Custody

Child custody and access rights in Canada are essential to make sure that choices put the health, safety, and well-being of the child ahead of everything else.

There are three main types of child custody:

  • Joint Custody: This type of custody refers to both parents sharing the responsibility for making major decisions about the child’s welfare, including education, healthcare, and religion. It does not necessarily mean that the child’s time is split equally between the parents’ homes. Joint custody emphasizes shared decision-making authority.
  • Sole Custody: When one parent has sole custody, they have the exclusive right to make significant decisions about the child’s life and upbringing without having to consult the other parent. The child usually lives with the custodial parent, while the non-custodial parent may have access or visitation rights.
  • Split Custody: This arrangement is less common and typically involves multiple children where some children live primarily with one parent while the other children live with the other parent. Decisions are made separately for each child, depending on with whom they reside.

Legal Custody: The Heart of Decision-Making

Legal ownership means having the power to make decisions about the child’s raising, such as their schooling, healthcare, and religious instruction. Legally custodial parents have a big say in how their child grows up, no matter where the child lives most of the time. There are two types: sole (one parent makes all the decisions) and joint (both parents make decisions together).

As an example for clarity, let’s imagine that Jordan and Alex are parents of a girl named Maya and share formal care of her. They need to talk to each other and work together to make choices about things like Maya’s school, her medical care, and any faith activities she might do. Even though Jordan and Alex aren’t living together, this arrangement makes sure that both of them are involved in important parts of raising Maya.

Physical Custody: Figuring out Where the Child Lives

The term refers to the person the child lives with. If the child lives with one parent most of the time, the other parent has visitation rights. If the child lives with both parents, the child spends time at both places. Physical custody deals with the daily care of the child.

As an example for clarity, let’s say Sophie lives with her mother Emily full-time and gives Emily total physical control of her. Sophie’s main home is Emily’s, but she stays with her dad Michael on the weekends twice a month. On a different note, Noah spends equal time with both of his parents, Leah and Ryan and switches places every week. This is an example of shared physical custody.

Parenting Plans: Blueprint for Post-Separation Parenting

A parenting plan is a specific, written deal that parents make after they’ve split up that spells out how they will raise their children together. It covers where they will live, go to school, get medical care, learn about religion, and how future disagreements will be settled.

For example, Lara and Nick make a parenting plan after they get divorced with the help of a family lawyer. This is how they plan to spend each week with their kids, how they will share holidays, and how they will make decisions about their health and schooling. This plan is their road map for their new life as co-parents, to reduce arguments and keep the kids safe.

Changes to Custody Orders

Life changes all the time, and a parenting plan that worked in the past might not work anymore because of new changes. Modification of custody orders is common.

For example, Zoe has to move to a different place because she got a big raise. When she and her ex-boyfriend Dan realize how this affects their present parenting agreement, they decide to change it together. They come up with a new plan that will allow Zoe to stay close to their kids while also allowing them to move.

Child Support in Canada

There is a law to pay child support in Canada to cover the costs of having a child. The amount is based on the parents’ salary, the number of children, and the parenting plan. The system is fair and works with each family’s needs to make sure that kids get the help they need from both parents.

Child Custody Evaluations

If a parent and child can’t agree on where the child should live and be cared for, the court may order a child custody evaluation. Child custody evaluations are thorough checks that mental health professionals do to figure out the best parenting and custody options for a child. To understand how the family works, this process includes talking to people, watching them, and sometimes giving them psychological tests.

The court then uses the evaluator’s suggestions to make parenting choices that are based on what is best for the child and will provide a safe and helpful setting for their growth and development.

Adoption in Canada

When people want to find an appropriate family for a child who can’t stay with their biological parents, they may think about adoption as a form of child care. This could happen for several reasons, such as the original parents not being able to care for the child, people or couples wanting to have more children, or wanting to give a child a safe and caring home.

In each province and territory of Canada, adoption is different, but they all have one thing in common: they look out for the best interests of the kid.

Parents in Canada need to understand the different aspects of child custody, such as the differences between legal and physical custody and the complexities of parenting plans and child support. Now that you know these things, you can make choices that put your kids’ health and safety first.

Remember that the process of getting control and reorganizing your family is complicated and unique to each person. If you want help, legal information, or direction through this process, we can help you navigate the legal system and make sure that your children’s best interests are always looked after. Sign up for Lawvo today to get all-around legal help from people who know how important family is.

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