The decisions related to child custody and child access are often the most difficult to make in legal separations. As your lawyer, Brian Warrington understands that difficulty, and can help you navigate this emotional process with his expert knowledge of Alberta law as it pertains to child custody and child access. Brian will help put your mind at ease by providing an empathetic ear to listen to and address any questions or concerns you may have, with the knowledge and experience to back it up.
Brian follows the same guiding method as the courts of Alberta: what are the the best decisions for the child. The best interests of the child must always come first when making the most prudent decisions with respect to child custody and child access. Under the best of circumstances, both parents can work together towards making an agreement that is satisfactory to each of them and is in the best interest of the child. If this isn’t possible for any reason, Brian will use his expertise to defend the rights of his client in court.
Brian can provide expert counsel around all issues to be resolved in making a separation agreement, including:
- With whom the child will live:
- It may be that the child lives with one parent primarily while the other has certain visitation rights (referred to as child access, see below), or time is split between the parents (equally or otherwise). Under certain circumstances it is possible one parent is barred from having contact with the child altogether. What is in the best interest of the child is always considered before anything else.
- The terms of child access:
- If the child will primarily reside with one parent, the other parent will often be awarded certain visitation rights so that the child can continue to enjoy the benefit of a relationship with that parent. This is referred to as child access. The terms of these visitation rights can be made as an agreement between the parents; but if this is not possible then they can be mandated by the court as a regularly scheduled occurrence, the length and frequency of which are determined on a case by case basis. This includes time during the holidays. Under certain circumstances, the court may see fit to bar one parent from access or contact with the child (if it determines that this is in the child’s best interest). In extreme cases, the court will determine that neither parent can properly care for the child and will appoint someone else as a legal guardian. This person will often be grandparent, or a sibling of the one of the parents.
- Who will make decisions for the child:
- Common decisions to be made include education, religion, medical care, with whom the child can spend time, and sports/activities. In the case of joint custody, both parents will retain equal rights in making such decisions, even if the child is residing primarily with one parent. If full child custody is awarded to one of the parents, he or she will be given full decision making authority.
- Who will support the child financially:
- The terms of financial support are based on income and with whom the child is living.
How are these determinations around child custody made?
These issues must be resolved between the parents as part of a “separation agreement” before a divorce will be granted in Alberta. Ideally, both parents can work cooperatively and productively in determining the terms of custody and access within this agreement. As your lawyer, Brian will expertly inform you in this process with relevant information as the law pertains to your situation. If the parents are unable to reach an agreement on the necessary terms, Brian will vigorously defend the interests and rights of his client in court.