How to File For Child Custody in Ontario With Child Support

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While divorce can be a difficult process, couples who have children need to put a priority on their children’s best interests. Under Ontario’s Family Law, parents are required to provide care for their children regardless of marital status. So when a marriage breaks down, parents must make important decisions about custody, access, and support for their children.

Custody and Access

In Ontario, there is a distinction between custody and access. Most people use the term custody when talking about living arrangements, but what custody actually refers to is the decision-making about the child’s life. Access, on the other hand, is defined as the time children spends with the parent they don’t live with. For example, a mother might be responsible for making all the major decisions for her child—sole custody—while the father has a liberal visitation arrangement.

There are four types of child custody in Ontario: sole, joint, shared, and split.

  • With sole custody, one parent is granted the right to make the majority of the important decisions about the child—i.e. healthcare, extracurricular activities, religion. In most cases, the children will reside with the parent who has sole custody.
  • Joint custody is when both parents share decision-making. Parents must figure out a way to come to agreement, which can be challenging for some couples when it comes to specific issues. In cases where estranged couples cannot get along, a judge is unlikely to grant joint custody.
  • A shared custody arrangement involves children living at least 40% of the time with each parent. This is in addition to parents sharing the decision-making responsibilities.
  • Split custody arrangements occur in families when one or more children live with one parent, while the other children live with the second parent.

Parents will also need to come up with an access plan. They can determine how much time the children will spend with the parent they don’t live with.

How to File for Child Custody in Ontario

You can apply for child custody in two different ways. Firstly, you can file for custody under the Divorce Act. Take note that either parent can apply for custody. Secondly, you could apply for custody under the Children’s Law Reform Act. Under this act, either parent or a third party can make the application. The court will make a ruling based on the best interests of the child. Other factors that a judge will consider include the parenting abilities of each parent, emotional and physical well being of parents, the child’s wishes, as well as issues raised by other children.

How to File for Child Support in Ontario

Filing for child support is similar to filing for child custody. You can make such an application under the Family Law Act or the Divorce Act. It is possible to make an out-of-court settlement with your partner if you are on good terms. However, such an agreement must comply with Ontario’s Child Support Guidelines. If you decide to go to court, it is advisable to hire a lawyer to offer legal advice and representation.

Although it is the responsibility of both parents to provide for their children, the parent who does not have custody should give financial help to the parent with custody. The Child Support Guidelines set out the amount of money that a parent without custody should pay. The court can award more than stipulated in the guidelines to cater for a child’s special expenses.

Choose a Trusted Expert in Child Custody and Support

Ensure your child’s best interests are taken care of by seeking professional family law advice. This is particularly important if you and your estranged spouse are having difficulty reaching mutual agreement.

Fine & Associates Professional Corporation is a well-respected Toronto Law Firm that prides itself on providing quality personal service and favourable outcomes in Family Law and Divorce Law.

You can click here to contact us, fill out the form on the right for a free private phone consultation, or call us at the phone number located at the top of the page.