Child Custody and Support in Ontario: What Parents Need to Know

By
The Tabuchi Law Team
November 15, 2022
5
min read
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Child custody and support are two of the most critical issues to consider when separating or divorcing in Ontario. Child custody refers to the legal right to make decisions about a child's upbringing, while child support refers to the financial payments that one parent makes to the other parent to help cover the costs of raising a child.

This blog post will provide a comprehensive overview of child custody and support in Ontario. We will discuss the different types of custody arrangements, how to get child custody and the child support guidelines. We will also cover other essential topics such as changing child custody, moving with a child, and child custody and domestic violence.

Unraveling the Complexity of Child Custody

If you are going through a separation or divorce in Ontario, one of the most critical issues you must address is child custody and support. Child custody refers to the legal right to decide about a child's upbringing, such as where they will live, what school they will attend, and what religion they will be raised in. Child support refers to the financial payments one parent makes to the other parent to help cover the costs of raising a child.

Types of Child Custody in Ontario

Ontario has two main types of child custody: sole custody and joint custody.

  • Sole custody: Sole custody means that one parent is primarily responsible for making decisions about the child's upbringing. The other parent may have visitation rights but will not have a say in significant decisions about the child's life.
  • Joint custody: Joint custody means both parents are responsible for deciding the child's upbringing. This can be done on various schedules, such as equal time, alternating weeks, or alternating months.

How to get child custody in Ontario

If you and your partner cannot agree on child custody, you can apply to the court for a custody order. The court will decide on a custody arrangement in the child's best interests.

When making a custody decision, the court will consider several factors, including:

  • The relationship between the child and each parent
  • The child's wishes
  • The child's needs
  • The child's physical and emotional well-being
  • The ability of each parent to care for the child
  • Any history of domestic violence or abuse

Child custody laws in Ontario

Ontario's primary law governing child custody is the Children's Law Reform Act. This law states that both parents have an equal right to custody of their children. However, the court may award sole custody to one parent if it is in the child's best interests.

Calculating Child Support in Ontario

Child Support Calculator Ontario

The Child Support Calculator Ontario tool can help you estimate how much child support you should pay or receive. The calculator considers many factors, including your income, the number of children you have, and the cost of living in your area.

Child Support Guidelines Ontario

The child support guidelines in Ontario are a set of rules that the court uses to calculate child support payments. The guidelines are based on the income of the payor parent and the number of children they have.

Child Support Enforcement Ontario

If the payor parent is not making child support payments, you can apply to the Family Responsibility Office (FRO) for enforcement. The FRO can take several steps to enforce child support payments, such as garnishing the payor parent's wages or seizing their assets.

Changing Child Custody in Ontario

If you want to change a child custody order, you must apply to the court. The court will only change a custody order if it is in the child's best interests.

Moving with a child in Ontario

If you want to move with your child outside of Ontario, you must notify the other parent of your intention to move. The other parent may object to the move; in this case, you must apply to the court for permission to proceed.

Child custody and domestic violence Ontario

If you have experienced domestic violence, you should tell the court about it when you are applying for a child custody order. The court will take domestic violence into account when making a custody decision.

Child custody and mental health Ontario

If you or the other parent has a mental health condition, the court will consider this when deciding custody. The court will want to ensure the child is in a safe and supportive environment.

Child custody and special needs Ontario

If your child has special needs, the court will consider this when deciding custody. The court will want to ensure the child can access the necessary resources and services.

Additional factors that the court may consider when making a child custody decision

  • The cultural and religious background of the child
  • The child's attachment to each parent
  • The child's stability and security in their current home
  • The impact of a change in custody on the child's relationship with each parent
  • The impact of a change in custody on the child's education and other activities

How to prepare for a child custody hearing

If you are going to have a child custody hearing, it is essential to be prepared. Here are some tips:

Gather evidence. Evidence can support your case for custody and help the judge decide. Some examples of evidence include:

  • Parenting plans
  • Child support agreements
  • Medical records
  • School records
  • Character references from friends and family members

Be organized. Bring all of your evidence to the hearing and have it organized in a way that is easy to access. This will help you to present your case effectively.

Be honest and truthful. The judge will be able to tell if you are not being honest, which will hurt your case. Be truthful about your situation and your relationship with your child.

Be prepared to answer questions about your parenting. The judge will want to know how you plan to parent your child and what you can offer them. Be ready to answer questions about your parenting style, discipline techniques, and availability.

Be respectful of the court. The judge and other court personnel deserve to be treated with respect. Dress appropriately and be on time for your hearing.

Here are some additional tips that may be helpful:

Talk to your lawyer. Your lawyer can help you prepare for the hearing and can answer any questions you may have.

Practice your testimony. You may want to practice your testimony with your lawyer, trusted friend, or family member. This will help you feel more confident when testifying in court.

Be patient. Child custody hearings can be stressful and time-consuming. Be patient with yourself and with the court process.

  • Remember that the judge's primary consideration is the child's best interests. Be prepared to present evidence and testimony that demonstrates that you are the best parent for your child.

Putting Your Child's Best Interests First

Child custody and support can be complex issues, but it is essential to understand your rights and options. You should speak to a family lawyer if you have questions about child custody or support in Ontario.

Seeking Expert Advice is Crucial

There are absolutely crucial reasons why it is necessary to consult a lawyer when dealing with child custody and support in Ontario. Here are a few of the most important:

  • To understand your rights and obligations. Child custody and support law is complex, and it is crucial to understand your rights and responsibilities under the law. A lawyer can explain the law to you and help you know how it will apply to your situation.
  • To protect your child's best interests. The court's primary consideration in child custody matters is the child's best interests. A lawyer can help you advocate for your child's best interests and ensure their needs are met.
  • To negotiate a settlement. If possible, it is best to try to negotiate a settlement with your ex-partner regarding child custody and support. A lawyer can help you negotiate a fair and equitable settlement that meets your and your child's needs.
  • To represent you in court. If you cannot settle with your ex-partner, you may need to go to court to resolve your child custody and support issues. A lawyer can represent you in court and help you to present your case to the judge.

Here are some specific examples of how a lawyer from our expert team at Tabuchi Law can help you with child custody and support matters in Ontario:

  • Help you to develop a parenting plan. A parenting plan is a document that outlines how you and your ex-partner will share parenting responsibilities. A lawyer can help you develop a parenting plan that meets the needs of you, your ex-partner, and your child.
  • Help you to calculate child support. Child support is a financial contribution paid by one parent to the other parent to help with the costs of raising a child. A lawyer can help you to calculate child support based on the Income Support Guidelines.
  • Represent you in court if you need to go to court. If you cannot agree with your ex-partner regarding child custody and support, you may need to go to court. A lawyer can represent you in court and help you to present your case to the judge.

If you are dealing with child custody and support issues in Ontario, I encourage you to consult with an experienced lawyer to discuss your options. They can help you to understand your rights and obligations under the law, protect your child's best interests, and negotiate a fair and equitable settlement.

Additional tips for parents

Communicate with your ex-partner. One of the most important things you can do is communicate with your ex-partner about child custody and support. Try to be respectful and cooperative, even if you are going through a difficult time.

Be flexible. Things don't always go according to plan, so being flexible and willing to compromise is essential. This will help you to resolve any disputes that may arise.

Put your child's needs first. It is important to remember that child custody and support are about your child's needs, not your own. Make decisions that are in the best interests of your child.

If you are going through a separation or divorce, please know you are not alone. There are many resources available to help you and your family. Please get in touch with a trusted friend, family member, or professional such as a lawyer or social worker.

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