Child Custody and Access

A joint custody agreement outlines the amount of time the children will spend with each parent. It does not mean that time with each parent will be spent equally.

The best interests of the child are always the guiding principle. Various factors are considered, such as the child’s age, number of siblings, distance between each parent’s home and the child’s school, each parent’s working hours, and any special needs the children may have.

For example, for very young children, a week away from either parent can seem like a long time so more frequent and shorter periods of time are spent with each parent. For older children, this is not necessarily as much of a concern. For a parent to move to a new home, city or country with their child is a difficult area of law that, thus far, has been inconsistent.

Experienced professionals, such as child psychiatrists, child psychologists, and social workers can be very helpful in educating parents with respect to what is best for their children during a separation. These types of professionals can also be helpful in conducting parenting assessments and interviewing children to hear their views.

If one of the parents struggles with a drug or alcohol problem, or if there is a risk of alienation, kidnapping, or history of abuse, it may be appropriate for that parent to have supervised access rather than being left alone with the child or children. Supervision can be done at a supervised access center by a neutral third party, such as a social worker or another family member.