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Airdrie, AB Custody, Access, Visitation, & Child Support


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    Divorcing with minor children in Airdrie, AB creates several issues which must be resolved. Who will the child live with most of the time? How often will the other parent get to see the child? Who will pay child support, and how much will be paid? 

    Our team is adept at helping parents navigate these major issues. We work hard to protect your relationship with your kids and to ensure that the eventual child support arrangements are something you can live with. 


    Who can take custody of children in an Airdrie, AB divorce?

    Only a guardian may take custody of the children. In Alberta law, the guardian of a child is the child’s biological or legally adoptive parent by default. An adult who is not the child’s biological parent but who has lived with the child for at least six months can make a request to be declared a legal guardian of the child, but will have to demonstrate intent for guardianship. 

    For the purposes of our discussion, we tend to assume that both members of the divorcing couple are guardians of the children. However, if you are a grandparent who has lived with the child for at least six months then you may well have a case for guardianship. 


    Types of Custody

    The types of custody are:

    • Legal custody — the right to make decisions for your children.
    • Shared physical custody or joint physical custody — each parent spends at least 40% of their time with the child.
    • Split custody — some children spend most of their time with one parent, while the other children spend time with the other.
    • Sole or full custody — one parent has primary legal and physical custody of the children.

    Judges prefer shared physical custody arrangements whenever it’s possible to create them. 


    Can I get full custody during an Airdrie, AB divorce?

    Judges in Airdrie prefer to avoid full custody arrangements whenever possible. They prefer joint custody arrangements that maximize the amount of time that the child spends with both parents.

    The only time you can get sole custody is if you can prove one of the following is true:


    • Your ex has a history of family violence.
    • Your ex has a history of child neglect. 
    • Your ex has a history of alcohol or drug abuse.
    • Your ex is incarcerated.
    • Your ex is living with someone who might be a danger to the child. 
    • You can prove your ex has shown little interest in their child. 


    Even if you take full custody of your children you should expect that your ex will have some access (visitation) with them. If the other parent is a danger to the child the judge will usually order supervised custody for them. This means that you’ll retain a third party with experience in fostering parent-child relationships in a supervised environment. You can find Alberta’s supervised visitation provider directory here.


    How is custody determined in Alberta? 

    The judge considers a number of factors.

    • The age and developmental stage of the child.
    • The child’s primary caregiver prior to the divorce.
    • The child’s preferences.
    • The plans each parent has for the care of the child. 
    • The child’s relationship with each parent and guardian, and the benefit to the child in maintaining those relationships. 
    • Each parent’s schedule.
    • Each parent’s parenting ability.
    • Each parent’s willingness to cooperate in fostering a relationship between the child and the other parent. 
    • The wishes of the parents.


    Keep in mind that if you can create a parenting plan that you and your spouse can live with during the negotiation phase, then the judge will generally honor your plan as long as they see no reason why that plan is not in the best interests of the child. 


    What age can a child decide which parent to live with in Alberta? 

    There is no age that a minor child can simply make that decision. While a judge will always take the child’s preference into account, the child’s preference will never be the only factor. Preference alone is not an indicator of the child’s best interests.

    Here’s an example. Perhaps the child prefers to live with Parent A, because Parent A lets them stay up all night playing video games and doesn’t check to make sure they do their homework. Parent B is a loving parent who sets reasonable, age-appropriate limits. The judge may well ignore the child’s preference in this case, knowing that the child will ultimately benefit from spending most of their time with Parent B. 


    Can a mother move a child away from the father in Alberta?

    You must give notice of your plan to move if the other parent has parenting responsibilities, or contact under a contact order. If a move will not have a considerable impact on the child’s relationships with the people receiving notice you simply need to provide the moving date and your new address. 

    If the move is a relocation, you must give 60 days notice, as well as specific details about the move such as how you think the parenting and contact schedule could be changed to help support the child’s relationship with the people receiving notice. The other parent may object to the move within 30 days of receiving notice. The court will determine whether the relocation may take place based on the reasons for the relocation and the impact of the relocation, and may choose to change the parenting orders in response to the relocation. 


    How is child support determined?  

    Child support must be in alignment with the minimum amounts set by the Federal Child Support Guidelines. For some couples this will be a very straightforward figures. High net worth couples have more room for negotiation. In addition, children with special needs or expenses could be eligible for additional child support. 

    Do I have to pay child maintenance if it’s 50/50 custody? 

    Possibly. When each parent spends at least 41% of their time with the child, support is calculated by taking the amount both parents would pay, and then subtracting the greater amount from the lesser. The higher earner pays the difference to the lower earner. 


    Can grandparents get access? 

    Grandparents can apply to be a guardian if they have lived with the child for at least six months. They can also apply for “contact.” Contact gives them the right to have some sort of contact with the children, from physical time to phone calls, emails, or video calls. 


    Get Help Today 

    We have over 20 years of experience helping parents with child support, child custody, and visitation issues. If you’re worried about how your divorce will impact your relationship with your kids, call (403) 225-7777 to schedule your appointment today. 

    Please note: The information provided on this website is Not Legal Advice. The information may or may not be accurate. The information is for discussion purposes only. Reliance upon any information provided would not be grounds to advance a claim against Merchant Law for providing any advice. In order to get a formal legal opinion upon which you may rely about any specific fact scenario, you would have to first retain the services of a lawyer and request a formal legal opinion.