A large part of the Merchant Law Group LLP Calgary family law practice is involved in obtaining, protecting and preserving the rights of our clients to have physical access to their children. The decision-making authority regarding the health and welfare of your children is also a part of child custody law.
Our lawyers have extensive experience successfully representing parents, grandparents, and other closely related third parties in custody, access, and visitation cases. The term parenting time is now also used interchangeably to mean the same thing.
We are sensitive to the emotional toll these cases may have on all parties involved, including and especially the children. Our Calgary child custody lawyers help our clients to resolve their issues with the least amount of conflict possible.
Calgary Child Custody, Access, and Visitation Lawyers – Parenting Time
In most cases, both parents wish to be loving and devoted. Both should have appropriate and adequate time with their children. Both may be well-intentioned, but nevertheless you may disagree about some important issues for child care and decision making for your children.
Who may apply for parenting time – custody, access or visitation?
You do not have to be a biological parent to apply for custody, access, or visitation. You may be a grandparent or someone with close ties to the child.
The courts have authority to order joint custody, shared parenting, nesting orders, and a wide variety of remedies whereby both parents can have the right to see the child on the most appropriate basis always based upon the best interests of the child and for their development.
This may mean seeing the children on the weekend, or every second week, having them all summer, or whatever is most appropriate and in the best interests of the children.
The court will look for the best arrangements for the children. The lawyer’s job is to paint the picture for the court so that the circumstance you are able to provide ticks all the following boxes:
- The child’s overall happiness vis-à-vis the applicant’s relationship with the child,
- The child’s psychological, emotional and physical well-being,
- The nature, length and history of the applicant’s relationship with the child,
- How does continuing the relationship serve the child’s best interests
Your Calgary child custody lawyer’s advocacy skills will make a huge difference. We have to ensure that the plan we present to the court will serve the best interests of the child in terms of the child’s welfare, education, medical care, activities, and religion.
In a sole custody scenario there is no requirement to consult the other parent. Whereas with joint custody the other must be consulted and can end up in court where the parties don’t agree.
Access and Visitation AKA Parenting Time
The right of a child to visit or spend time with each parent is frequently referred to as “access” although recently in 2017 this term was removed from provincial legislation in Alberta, and instead replaced with the new terms for it “parenting time”, “contact time”, or “interaction”. They all mean roughly just as they sound.
The term “access” is still used however in divorce matters which fall under the jurisdiction of the Divorce Act. Alberta courts have full discretion to make orders they deem to be in the best interests of the child.
Just as it sounds the paramount and only guiding consideration for the judge is to determine how will the children’s needs and well-being be best protected in their best interests.
It is therefore your lawyers job to make the most persuasive proposal to the court, putting the facts together in a coherent way such that the court ultimately decides how you want.
The judge will decide based on the best interests for the children, this might not be what is best for the parents.
Do unfit mothers or unfit fathers get access or parenting time?
Judges will encourage involvement by both willing parents. But if there is evidence of unfitness as a parent it can certainly be argued in court.
For instance if you think your children may be in physical danger, the urgency is much greater, and you would be well advised to seek and receive qualified legal representation from our experienced Calgary child custody lawyers.
A restraining order might be appropriate. Your Calgary child custody lawyer can help.
In extreme cases, you might even decide to call 911 if the matter is of such an urgency your children are in immediate danger.
What about issues like porn addiction, alcohol, drugs, anger management or gambling addictions?
Again it all depends if you are trying to get access or deny it to the addict. With evidence a court may well limit access and parenting time.
If you are the one trying to get more time with your child and you face these issues we would help by building evidence to show the court that you have undergone some treatment or counselling. We can help arrange all of this for you and thereby build the evidence needed.
It might be appropriate to attend AA meetings or NA meetings in that case of drugs. There are tricks of the trade that well trained Calgary family lawyers will know about that can help you win your legal battles whichever side of the coin you are on.
Can I move away to another city and take my children?
Speak to a lawyer. Sometimes it is tactically better to move then apply. Sometimes you have to apply first. It might depend if there are already court orders in place.
The custodial guardian of the children is ordinarily not precluded from moving. However we have argued both sides of this issue. We can help!
What can I do if I am being denied access or parenting time?
We frequently are contacted by clients who complain that they are being totally denied access and visitation. They want more time with their kids. Is your ex always making an excuse at the last minute or just not letting you see your kids?
This is a slippery slope and will probably get worse over time to the point where your children hardly even know you and will eventually not want to spend time with you.
You will be out of their lives and you will have only yourself to blame really for not taking action about it from the outset.
You do not want a pattern to develop. If you leave it too long, by the time we get in front of a judge your ex-spouse might argue that you were disinterested.
Or your ex might say the children hardly know you. At that point the court might decide your access should be very limited or even supervised.
Don’t delay! You should strongly consider hiring an experienced Calgary child custody lawyer to fight on your behalf.
The last thing you want is five or ten years from now to feel as though your relationship with your kids did not turn out the way you wanted as a result of your ex having got himself or herself the best Calgary custody lawyer who took your kids away from you. Or that you went to court on your own without a lawyer.
If you have been served with court papers and are required to appear in court you should call and speak to a Calgary child custody lawyer right away.
And you can also ask the court for extra time to find a lawyer. This is called an adjournment. The court will ordinarily grant them to give you time to lawyer up.
Do I have to go to court to get custody, access, visitation or parenting time?
The parents and parties involved are always free to come to their own satisfactory arrangements without having to fight in court. There is no reason why reasonable people should not be able to reach such agreements.
Psychologists have for years posited that maximizing the child’s time with both parents is almost always best for the child’s overall happiness and emotional development.
These agreements can and likely should be put before the court though so that you get a binding end enforceable court order. Separation agreements may be negotiated with the help of your lawyer to avoid the court process.
The separation agreement should cover everything that has to do with the children including child custody, access, and visitation. If there are other issues like property division, divorce, spousal support, the separation agreement should cover it all. Our Calgary family law lawyers are here to help.
If part of a divorce matter then the separation agreement will have to deal fully with the issue of child custody, access, and visitation otherwise the court will refuse to grant you the divorce until they are dealt with properly.
Our Calgary custody lawyers effectively represent clients both in negotiations or where ex-spouses cannot agree, we will resolutely represent you in court with total determination.
It is fair to say that many couples when they separate simply cannot agree or deal with one another in a dispassionate enough way for the best interests of the children. If you already know you fall into this category, call us, we can help. Call 403-225-7777 to speak to a lawyer now.
Our lawyers help clients across Alberta. Our Calgary office frequently represents people for the following surrounding areas, including Airdrie, Okotoks, Cochrane, Chestermere, Strathmore, and High River since the Calgary Courts are typically used for these surrounding localities.
Our Calgary custody lawyers pride themselves on promptly returning all calls, e-mails, and text messages, and providing honest and zealous representation. Our lawyers are available to speak to you seven days a week.
Get in Touch
Call us now at 403-225-7777 to speak to a lawyer and see how we may be able to help you. Alternatively fill out the adjacent form for a response by email.
Or else stop by our office just off Barlow Trail at 2710 17 Ave SE in Calgary. Our office is easily reached from the Deerfoot or Memorial Drive also. And we have free parking available!