Worried about what your relationship with your children will look like after your Leduc, AB divorce?
The team at Merchant Law is here to help. We understand the stresses, fears, and concerns you’re carrying. We can help you resolve all the major issues associated with child custody, access, visitation, and child support.
Types of Custody in Leduc, AB
First you must understand that legal custody is separate from physical custody. Legal custody is the right to make decisions for the child such as medical, legal, religious, and educational decisions.
Physical custody refers to who has care and control of the child at any given time.
You can have joint legal custody but sole physical custody.
Physical custody is further divided into different types of custody such as shared custody, split custody, or sole custody.
Shared custody, or joint physical custody, means that each parent is with their child anywhere from 40% of the time to 50% of the time. Joint legal and joint physical custody is by far the most common custody arrangement in Alberta.
Split custody refers to a rare arrangement wherein the family has multiple children, and some children live with one parent while the other children live with the other parent.
Sole physical custody means that the child lives with the parent the majority of the time. It is by far the rarest form of custody in Alberta. The judge evaluates arrangements based on what is in the best interests of the children. Numerous studies have taught us that it is better, in most cases, for the child to have a strong relationship with both parents.
Sole physical custody is only awarded in cases where the other parent presents some kind of a danger to the child. You would have to prove abuse, alcoholism, drug abuse, incarceration, or some other issue which would make the sole physical custody award appropriate. If you truly need to protect your child from your spouse we are happy to help you gather that evidence.
Even if you get sole physical custody, the judge will usually order access. Access is the right of the other parent to spend time with the child. Access is also known as visitation. You will usually draw up some sort of co-parenting schedule outlining when the other parent will be spending time with the child. If the other parent is a danger to the child, the judge will usually order supervised access, which means that a professional provider of access supervision services will need to be present during visitation time.
How Access Works in Leduc, AB
Access will be backed by court order. Neither parent may deny the other parent access, and neither parent may deny the other parent their court-ordered time in a shared physical custody arrangement. This is true even if a parent is behind on child support: child support is decoupled from access.
The child cannot decide to simply stop going to see the other parent.
Parenting orders should usually include an outline of who will pay travel expenses, when and where pick-up should take place, and what the expectations are at pick-ups and drop-offs. These orders should also contain provisions for birthdays, holidays, and other special days.
If one parent denies the other parent access, they may take the denying parent to court to “show cause” for the denial. Denying access can backfire, as it can result in the judge awarding sole custody to the other parent.
Grandparent’s Rights in Leduc, AB
For the most part, grandparents cannot sue for custody in Leduc. There are exceptions.
Only a child’s guardian may sue for custody. By default, the child’s parents count as guardians. However, Alberta allows you to apply to become a guardian if you live with a child for more than six months.
If there is a case where neither one of the parents will take care of their child then the courts may award custody to the grandparents.
It’s far more common for grandparents to be awarded the right of contact. Contact means they may see the child physically, call them on the phone, converse with them via email, video call, or instant messenger, or write letters. It does not guarantee physical time with the child, but does guarantee that neither parent may cut off a grandparent from the relationship completely.
How Child Support Works in Leduc, AB
The parent with access pays the parent with physical custody if one parent has primary physical custody of their child.
If the parents have a shared or joint custody arrangement, then the court looks at the amount of child support either parent would have been responsible for. The smaller amount is then subtracted from the larger.
The higher earning parent then pays the lower earning parent the difference between the two amounts.
All child support amounts must be, at a minimum, in line with the Federal Child Support Guidelines. However, there are times when it is necessary to negotiate higher child support amounts, such as when the child has special expenses. There are also times when the parental income is unclear, requiring intervention from a Leduc, AB child support lawyer in order to ensure that the child support award is set properly.
Modifying Parenting Orders in Leduc, AB
There are numerous circumstances which might make it necessary to modify orders. Parental travel and work schedules can change. Either parent may experience a health crisis, or a change in their incomes.
When this happens, parents may either modify orders with an agreement between the two of them that is then communicated to the court, or they may return to court to seek a judge-adjudicated modification. As your Leduc, AB family lawyers we are happy to help you make your modification case.
Get Help Today
We’ve helped thousands of Leduc residents resolve their child custody, access, and child support cases.
Our top-notch legal team has 20+ years of experience with divorce and family law, and are passionate about helping you get a fair deal as your marriage comes to a close. We’re responsive, empathetic, and tough.
Schedule your first appointment by calling (780) 474-7777 now. We’re here to help.