Figuring out what will happen to the kids is one of the hardest parts of any divorce. Emotions, both anger and fear, run high. Yet there are ways to craft custody arrangements that are ultimately within the best interests of your children.
The family law team at Merchant Law has your back. We can help you defend against false accusations of unfit parenting, help you make your case for custody, and can help you maximize your access to whatever degree is feasible for your life.
How can I get sole custody over my children in Alberta?
Alberta family laws state that both parents have an equal right to be involved in their children’s lives. This means sole custody awards are rather rare.
A sole custodian has both physical custody of their child and legal custody of their child. When you have physical custody you see to the day-to-day care of the child. Legal custody is about making decisions for the child, such as religious or educational decisions.
Courts prefer to give parents as close to 50/50 physical and legal custody as they possibly can. The only time they would approve sole custody of a child is if the other parent is provably unfit.
An unfit parent may have an alcohol or drug problem. That parent may also have engaged in domestic violence in the past, or have a significant mental health problem that is not being managed and treated accordingly. At times, a parent can win sole custody if their ex is living with someone who has these sorts of problems as well.
Even when a parent is found to be unfit they will get parenting time, even if it is supervised parenting time.
If you push for sole custody simply because you don’t like the other parent or are angry with them you are likely to lose that battle, and you’ll waste a lot of time and money. Similarly, false accusations tend to backfire, bringing sanctions from the court.
It’s best if you go into your divorce negotiation with these realities in mind. You may be ending your marriage, but you and your ex will be co-parents for life. Plan to create parenting time schedules that are as fair and as reasonable as possible.
Can a mother move a child away from a father in Alberta?
The custodial parent can’t move the child anywhere without the other parent’s consent. The parent who wants to move may have to seek relief from the court if they can’t get that consent.
The only time the courts grant these changes is when it’s in the best interests of the child and the parent’s circumstances have changed. The child has to be going into a better situation overall, which means these moves can be opposed on the grounds that the school system will not be as good, or that the crime rate is high. The parent might take a new job, but the job will have to represent a significant positive change in salary or circumstances.
In short, you can’t do it unless it is within the child’s best interests. Most divorce orders will restrict the distance the custodial parent may move without court permission.
At what age can a child choose which parent to live with?
There is no set age. The court may take the child’s preference into account at any age. It will be just one of many factors weighed by the court…the child’s answer isn’t a guaranteed win for the preferred parent even when the child is 17 years old.
Typically, more “weight” is given to an older child’s answer than a younger child’s, and this is worth taking into account when you plan your legal strategy with your lawyer.
Why Merchant Law?
We want to protect your relationship with your child, and make sure your child has the best life possible. We will fight hard to make sure the right custody and co-parenting orders are in place to make your child’s life as smooth and as healthy as possible.
Want to find out if we’re the right lawyers for you? Just call us to set up a free consultation. We’ll answer your questions, get details on your circumstances, and help you plan next steps.