There are few issues in a divorce that are more complex, emotional, and intense than child custody. It’s not uncommon for both parents to feel that they have the best interests of the child at heart, even if they have competing and mutually exclusive ideas about how custody, access, and visitation should be handled.
The team at Merchant Law has seen hundreds of clients through their custody arrangements and battles. We can help you create an agreement that truly protects your children’s interests, or argue for your children’s interests before the family court judge.
Types of Custody in Manitoba
Manitoba law talks about two kinds of custody. The first is physical custody. The person with physical custody is the person who has primary “care and control” over the child. A parent may also have access, or visitation rights. In some custody agreements, care and control is 50/50, meaning the parents have “joint physical custody” over the child. Courts prefer this arrangement unless it can be proven that one parent is a danger to the child.
The other type of custody is legal custody. This is the right to make medical, legal, and educational decisions on behalf of your child. Legal custody is almost always 50/50 unless having the other parent involved presents a clear and present danger to the child.
Decisions about custody and access are made in the court’s best estimation of the best interests of the child. They may consider the parent child relationship, the parent that did the most active “parenting,” family violence, alcohol, or drug use, the parent’s health, both mental and physical, the parent or the child’s schedule, the support systems each parent has access to, and the child’s special needs.
How do I get full custody in Manitoba?
The Family Maintenance Act of Manitoba says both parents have equal rights to custody and control of the child if they lived together after the child’s birth. This means that sole custody arrangements are rare.
To get sole custody, you would have to prove the other parent is unfit and poses a danger to the child. This can mean proving they’ve engaged in domestic violence, have drug or alcohol problems, have significant financial issues, or have significant mental illnesses that hamper their abilities to take care of the child. It may also mean that a live-in partner or second spouse has these problems.
Proving these issues isn’t easy, and you should only raise them if you know that you can prove them. The courts take a dim view of baseless accusations. It’s important to go over the facts of your situation, and your options, with your family law lawyer.
Can my child decide which parent to live with?
No, but the court will take your child’s wishes into consideration as one of the many factors they’ll be looking at when making their decision. Older children’s preferences are given more weight than younger children’s.
How is parenting time determined?
By the schedule laid out in your divorce or separation agreement, which should contain a parenting time schedule. This should cover weekends, weekdays, holidays, and birthdays. It should also include a method for resolving disputes, who pays for transportation, and what the rights and responsibilities of each parent are at pick-up and drop off.
Why choose Merchant Law?
Hiring a family lawyer from Merchant Law can help you preserve your relationship with your children. Our experienced lawyers are committed to making sure you get as much time with your kids as possible.
Contact us today to ask questions, get a free consultation, and learn more about what we can do for you.