The Best Interests Of The Children
What are the best interests of the children? Understandably, a question that we often get from our clients is about how the courts determine custody and access. The answer is that they will be determined on the basis of what is in the best interests of the child. This seems fairly straight forward but can be difficult in application.
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Best Interests Of The Children
The Supreme Court of Canada has articulated that evaluation as to the best interests of the children requires the courts to give consideration to the relevant circumstances. This includes the child’s needs and the ability of the parents to take care of them. In Ontario, the Children’s Law Reform Act applies. Further, it states that in giving consideration to the child’s best interests, the court will “consider the child’s needs and circumstances, including:
- the love, affection and emotional ties between the child and, each person, including a parent or grandparent, entitled to or claiming custody of or access to the child other members of the child’s family who reside with the child; and persons involved in the child’s care and upbringing;
- the child’s views and preferences, if they can reasonably be ascertained;
- the length of time the child has lived in a stable home environment;
- the ability and willingness of each person applying for custody of the child to provide the child with guidance and education. Further, to provide the necessaries of life and any special needs of the child;
Other things the family judge might consider are:
- the plan proposed by each person applying for custody of or access to the child for the child’s care and upbringing;
- the permanence and stability of the family unit with which it is proposed that the child will live;
- the ability of each person applying for custody of or access to the child to act as a parent; and
- any familial relationship between the child and each person who is a party to the application.
Read more: Discussing Separation With The Children
Best Interests of the Children- Toronto Family Law Firm
An important thing to remember is that determining custody and access is not based on the parent’s rights or interests. It is about the parent’s abilities to satisfy the best interests of the children. The court will not consider issues relating to the parent’s relationship or the conduct of one parent towards the other parent. This is unless the court is satisfied that the conduct is related to the parent’s ability to care for the child.
One piece of the puzzle that also adds to the decision of the appropriate custody and access award is the maximum contact principle. This principle promotes that any custody and access order should provide for maximum contact with both parents. Maximum contact is encouraged because it is typically to the benefit of the child. Further, the court will work to promote maximum contact with both parents unless it is inconsistent with the child’s best interests.
The determination of custody and access will be based on the parties’ individual circumstances of their unique case. You need to get a better idea of how custody and access may be determined in your circumstances. Speak to one of our family law lawyers in the Toronto office of ClearWay Law. We have experience assisting clients with custody and access issues and can provide you with your options. Our Toronto lawyers can help you answer what is in the best interests of the children.
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Hiring a Team of Professionals
If you find yourself in the middle of a separation or a divorce, the first step most people take is to hire a good lawyer. A lawyer will be able to provide you with advice about your legal rights. They can help you protect yourself throughout the separation process. However, lawyers have limits on the advice that they can provide outside of the law. So, once you have found a good lawyer that you trust, the next step is to seek out other professionals that will help you through your separation. Further, two professionals that all separating spouses should seek and retain are:
- A counsellor
- A financial advisor
First, a counsellor (or therapist, psychologist etc.) is an important member to add to your professional team. Lawyers acknowledge that going through a separation and divorce is emotionally exhausting. Our lawyers will certainly listen to your concerns and thoughts on the separation, as it helps us to give you the best advice. However, we do not have the same training as a counsellor to be able to help you work through the emotional aspects of a separation or divorce. In addition, we do not have the same tools or techniques that a counsellor will have to help you deal with the stress of separation.
Use A Counsellor For Divorce
A counsellor will be able to guide you through the emotional side of your separation or divorce. This will also put you in a position to make sound decisions in the legal process. A counsellor will also be of great assistance to any children going through the separation process with their parents. Separation and divorce can be very difficult for children. Further, a counsellor will be able to help them process their feelings and move through the process. Counsellors are a great professional to engage during the divorce and separation process.
Second, a financial advisor is an important member to add to your professional team. As lawyers, we do not have the same knowledge as a financial advisor in relation items such as investments, savings plans, or how to prepare for retirement. Also, a financial advisor will be able to give you advice on how to best handle your finances now that you are separated.
Best Interests of the Children- Toronto Family Lawyers
Most often one spouse has been left in charge of the finances throughout the relationship. This leaves the other spouse in the dark on how to properly manage their money. A financial advisor can step in to help that spouse ensure that their money is managed advantageously. It doesn’t matter if you have always handled the finances or never touched the finances. It is always good to connect just for a second opinion. The financial advisor should be consulted during a separation to ensure that your finances are protected.
Our lawyers are limited to providing advice on the law and frequently recognize situations that would benefit the help of another professional. Further, we are always happy to give recommendations for counsellors and financial advisors to help you. Are you going through a separation or divorce? Do you have questions about the best interests of the children?
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