It doesn’t matter whether you’re suing for custody or being sued. The prospect of losing your ability to see your children on a regular basis is terrifying.
Place your trust in the dedicated, skilled, and experienced child custody lawyers at Merchant Law. Decades of family law practise and experience means we know how to help you put your best foot forward in your custody case.
Child Custody Basics
One thing that’s important to understand is it’s very rare to lose all access to your children. Judges prefer to foster a relationship between both parents and their children wherever possible.
Even in scenarios where you are being accused of being unsafe with the kids you can expect to have some access. You would just have specified access, wherein a third-party professional, usually a social worker, oversees the visit. And if you can prove your circumstances have changed you may be able to receive a variance which allows you unspecified access to your children in the future.
The default arrangement is usually for both parents to have joint legal custody, which means both parents have the right to information about their child, and the right to make medical, financial, legal, and educational decisions for the child. One parent then takes primary physical custody, which means the child lives in his house or her house most of the time.
Sole custody arrangements, wherein a single parent has both primary physical custody and sole legal custody are rare. The court would have to find there is significant proof that one parent does not have the capacity or ability to parent your child safely before it would take this step.
One arrangement that’s becoming more popular of late is a shared custody arrangement where parents each spend roughly 50% of the time with their children. Some even use the “bird’s nest” arrangement, where the child always lives in the home and the parents rotate in and out of it.
Rare as the sole custody arrangement is, most of the child custody cases we handle involve cases where one parent is suing another parent for sole custody. Often this is due to issues with abuse, alcohol, or drugs. Occasionally it happens because the other parent is feeling vindictive. Whatever the reason, our team is here to protect your right to be in your child’s life.
How Judges in Saskatoon Determine Custody
The standard for awarding child custody is “the best interests of the child.” The judge evaluates this on a case-by-case basis. The court is not allowed to favour one parent over the other, nor is the court concerned with parental wants.
It is safe to say that the family law is an area of Canadian law which gives judges of the courts perhaps the widest discretion to assess relevant facts and then make whatever permanent order or temporary arrangements as the judge thinks best—therefore your lawyer’s advocacy skills are vigorously tested in a family law court hearing. The best advocate is usually the victor in family law cases when they do go to court for a determination. This is down to the details in preparing the evidence which your lawyer feels is vital to advance in order to prove your position to the court and to counter any evidence put in by the other side. So this is where a good family law layer’s mettle is rightly tested.
The court will make the “best interest” determination based upon a number of different factors. These can include the parent the child has the closest relationship with (i.e. the parent who has done most of the day-to-day parenting), the psychological, social, mental, and physical needs of the child, the environment the child would be growing up in, the financial situation of either parent, and the parent’s mental and physical fitness to care for the child.
When the courts deem the child to be mature enough to make a determination, the judge may also consider the stated preferences of the child. However, the child’s preferences are not a “slam dunk” for a custody award. It is one of many factors the judge will take into consideration.
Partnering with Merchant Law means getting outstanding advice about how to provide evidence of your role in your child’s life, and how to put your best foot forward in a custody hearing.
In the meantime, make sure you’re taking advantage of all of your awarded access, and make sure you focus 100% on being involved in the child’s life. For the most part, unless there is a proven safety issue at play, the courts want to hear about how you can be a good parent, rather than listening to you throw accusations that the other parent is a bad parent.
How to Get Help with Child Custody in Saskatoon
If you are facing a child custody proceeding, don’t delay. Call (306) 653-7777 to set up a face to face meeting.
You can also stop by our office at 224 4th Ave. S., Saskatoon, SK S7K 5M5. You’ll find us between 20th and 21st Street. We’re in the same building as the First Nations Bank of Canada and are across the street from the Court of Queen’s Bench. There is an Impark lot right next door to our offices should you need it. We look forward to representing you.