Child Custody & Access

The law requires that child custody and child access matters be determined upon what is considered to be in the best interests of the child. Generally the court is concerned with the established ties the child has with the person claiming custody or access, the existing arrangements, the child's wishes, and the plans for the child.

To help decide custody and access cases the court will sometimes appoint a lawyer to represent the child's views. In other instances a court may order an assessment of the child and the parties by special trained professionals who then provide a report to the parties and the court. The report is not binding on the court although it is often very persuasive.

Some couples can negotiate a written Parenting Plan which is a comprehensive written arrangement the parties have made for the care of their child, and in which various responsibilities can be assigned to one parent, the other, or both.

If the parties have joint custody of the child, both of them together will make the decisions relating to the child's health, education and life in general. If one party has sole custody and the other party has access, the custodial parent has the sole right to make the important decisions concerning the child. The access parent still has a right to be informed of the decisions. Whether the parties have joint or sole custody arrangement, the child may reside primarily with the custodial parent, or the child's residence could be also be shared.

Perhaps the most typical form of access for a non-custodial parent consists of a visit every second weekend from Friday evening to Sunday evening, as well as a share of holidays and other special occasions.