Custody/Parenting Orders & Access

How to understand and use the new terms in order to reach sound decisions and protect the future of your children.

Howard Nightingale Professional Corporation will guide you through the procedures for custody/parenting orders and access so that you will be fully informed at every step. We explain the laws, legal procedures and your rights and entitlements, so that you fully understand your legal options. As well, Howard Nightingale carefully listens to your priorities and concerns, so that we can accurately articulate your wishes and address your concerns during negotiations and in court. We can help you to reach the sound decisions that will protect the future of your children and your relationship with them.

Parenting Orders

The term, “parenting orders,” is Bill C-78’s new terminology and which will likely be employed by Family Court, as part of its attempt to harmonize family court matters with modern sensibilities.

The word “custody” is sometimes used to mean the essential physical custody and day-to-day care of the child. At other times, it is used in a broader sense to mean the full bundle of rights and responsibilities of a parent to a child. Custody is the control and guardianship of a child given to an adult by the court or as established by a separation agreement between parents.

This generally includes physical care of the child and the legal responsibility to make decisions for the child regarding education, religion and health care, as well as to provide the child with food, clothing and shelter. There are two types of custody: joint custody and sole custody. In brief, joint custody provides for the participation of both parents in making the decisions affecting their child’s life and well being. Sole custody, as the term implies, makes one person responsible for these decisions. While joint custody is preferred, if parents can neither agree nor compromise, then the court will appoint one parent to act in the best decisions of the child.

For more information about the difference between joint and sole custody or to receive individual legal advice, please contact Howard Nightingale Professional Corporation.

Parenting orders and Access/Visitation

Please note that access differs from custody, Access or visitation, can be regarded as a form of temporary care of the child. Whereas access was presumed to be a parental right, the concept of parenting orders tries to redefine it as being a right that belongs to the child, so that the child may have contact and maintain a relationship with a parent or other person seeking access. It is intended to facilitate a meaningful, continuing, post-separation relationship between the child and the non-custodial parent.

Family court seriously regards this refocus from the parent’s wants to the child’s needs and rights as a significant development, so much so, that as well as with custody, the court will provide “parenting orders,” to ensure that all decisions are in the child’s best interests.

With that in mind, the court will ensure that parental and family visits take place at the convenience of the child’s schedule, and in accordance with the child’s age and stage of development. An access schedule can be increased as the child grows older and more independent from the custodial parent, yet it is always preferable to have some form of written schedule that both parties have agreed to follow. The written access schedule can be flexible and changed from time to time, if both parties agree.

At Howard Nightingale Professional Corporation we can negotiate a comprehensive access schedule for you, taking into consideration your child’s needs, annual holidays, long weekends, your family’s religious observances and school vacation periods. Howard Nightingale will assist you in resolving any inappropriate issues involving access as established by parenting orders.

Variation of Custody/Access Orders

Even with the new concept of parenting orders, custody and access are not carved in stone. Family law takes into account that parents’ and children’s circumstances and schedules can change over the years. Accordingly, a parent who wishes to vary a custody or access parenting order can apply to the court for a change, based on the condition, means, needs or other special circumstances of the child or parent.

Ontario family law regarding custody and access parenting orders applies equally to common-law, same-sex and traditional, married parents, to negotiate or apply for custody and/or access orders from the court. The court’s primary concern for its orders regarding custody or access proceedings is to uphold the best interests of the child.

By staying focused and up to date with the new laws and their concepts, Howard Nightingale Professional Corp can determine the needs of our clients to better advise and represent them.


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