As a parent, you must decide upon where your children are going to live, who has access to them and at what terms when you are processing your divorce. These decisions are emotionally charged and fraught with legal requirements. Deciding on custody and guardianship, place of residence, discipline, education and consent to medical treatment are just a few items that must be addressed and agreed upon before you can finalize your divorce.
Sole Custody vs. Joint Custody
When one parent has sole custody or guardianship, that parent makes all the decisions with respect to the child. If both parties share custody, they must agree upon these decisions.
If married or divorced parties cannot agree on the parenting and custody issues they may apply for a Custody And Access Order under the Divorce Act. Common law couples will need to apply for a guardianship and parenting order under the Alberta Family Law Act. In both cases, a judge will review the case and make a custody order after reviewing:
- The best interests of the child
- How to ensure that the child maintains contact with both parents, if in the best interest of the child
- The past behaviours of the parent, insofar as it reflects their ability to parent.