Custody, parenting, and decision-making responsibility should always be made with the children's best interests in mind. In most cases, the best interests of the children is to have both of their parents present in their lives. While we discuss sole custody in this post, we generally do not advocate for it without extenuating circumstances.
Do Courts Grant Sole Custody?
While this method of custody is not preferred by family courts, it is an essential consideration if you are leaving an abusive relationship or are dealing with a former spouse that is regularly unavailable.
Importantly, in March 2021, the terminology of “custody” was removed and replaced with “parenting” and “decision-making responsibility”. Generally our clients still use the term “custody” which is what we’ll use in this blog post. When we refer to custody, we are referring to both parenting and decision-making responsibilities.
Your parenting situation might mean that you want to obtain sole custody of your children. In this blog post, we look at some of the reasons why you might want sole custody, and will look at the factors in determining who has custody of the children. In addition, we’ll look at what you can do to help your case.
How is Custody Decided?
In Alberta (Canada), most often both parents have equal rights of child custody. Importantly, custody laws differ depending on whether the parents are married or not. The Divorce Act and the Family Law Act govern child custody. While both the Divorce Act and the Family Law Act govern matters of custody for married couples, most often married couples will apply for custodial rights under the Divorce Act. The Family Law Act also applies if you and your partner are unmarried.
Canadian law focuses on the child in a custody situation, and the only applicable principle in the Court’s analysis of custody is the best interests of the child.
Custody will be decided by looking at factors like:
- The abilities of each parent to protect the child’s physical, psychological and emotional safety
- The abilities of each parent to meet the needs of the child from a physical, emotional, psychological, cultural and spiritual perspective;
- Each parent’s availability to parent the child;
- The child’s preferences, if the child is mature enough to express them;
- The nature, strength and stability of the parent-child relationships; and
- The willingness of each parent to work cooperatively in relation to parenting matters.
What sole custody means
Sole custody means that one parent is responsible for day-to-day care and will make decisions about where the child goes to school, their place of residence, what health care they receive and what religion they follow, if any.
The other parent - the parent without sole custody - will still normally have some level of access to the child.
Wondering about other custody arrangements? Read more about the different types of child custody in Alberta.
Situations where sole custody would be considered
Sole custody is a rarer form of custody which is granted in specific circumstances. These circumstances include situations where:
- A parent has shown no interest in being a part of the child’s life;
- A parent has exercised his or her decision making authority with respect to the child in a manner which is inconsistent with the child’s best interests;
- A parent abuses drugs or alcohol; or
- A parent has committed abuse or been neglectful
If you are looking to obtain sole custody of your children, speak to Richmond Tymchuk Family Law LLP who can provide you with advice specific to your situation.
How to obtain sole custody?
If you are seeking sole custody, you will need to present a strong case for why it is in the best interests of your child.
Always thinking about your child’s needs first and foremost will help you present evidence to show why you should have sole custody. You’ll want to show how and why you can provide a suitable home and upbringing for the child, as well as proving any elements about why the other parent is not suitable to have joint custody. This might include evidence like police records and long periods of absence in the child’s life. Your lawyer at Richmond Tymchuk Family Law LLP can help you with this.
Do I need a lawyer to get sole custody?
Not necessarily, however, to present the strongest case, you’ll want to work with a lawyer who has experience in these types of cases. Richmond Tymchuk Family Law LLP is an experienced family law firm who have won sole custody cases. Contact us today for an initial consultation.