Child Custody, Access and Parenting

In a divorce, the term “custody” refers to both where the children will reside and how the major decisions for the children will be made.  If the children reside primarily with one parent, that parent is said to have primary custody and is often called the “custodial parent.”  The other parent’s time with the children is referred to as “access.”  If both parents have the children an equal (or approximately equal) amount of the time, they have “shared custody.”  In terms of decision-making powers, if both parents are involved in the decision making for the children, they are said to have “joint custody.”  Parents can both have joint custody of the children even if one parent has the primary care of the children.  If one parent is responsible for all of the decision making, that parent has “sole custody.”

If the parents are not married, their matters are dealt with pursuant to the Family Law Act.  The Family Law Act sets out how time with the children is to be divided and how decisions for the children are to be made, by first determining who the children’s guardians are.  In many instances, both parents will be guardians, but this is not always the case.  The roles and intentions of each parent both before and after a child’s birth are taken into account in determining who is, or who is not, a guardian.  Someone who is not initially a guardian of a child may later become a guardian, by either agreement between the guardians or by court order.   Parenting time is the term that refers to how time with the children is divided between guardians and can be arranged with one parent being the primary parent (having the children most of the time) or as shared parenting, where each guardian has the children equally.  Decision making can likewise be shared between the guardians or can be the responsibility of just one guardian.  A parent who is not a guardian can still have time with the children.  This is called “contact.”  Non-guardians who are not parents (for example, grandparents) can also have contact in certain situations.

photo of a young boy and his father, spending time together during regularly scheduled periods of child custody

There is a multitude of factors to be considered in determining the best interests of children, including what arrangement best addresses the children’s physical, emotional and psychological needs, what arrangement will best foster a relationship with each parent and, in certain situations, what arrangement is preferred by the children.  The children’s best interests may be difficult to determine and may change over time.  Other practical concerns also need to be taken into account, such as each parent’s work schedule or the location of each parent’s residence.  We at Capital City Law can help you through this difficult and often times confusing process, and find a solution that works for the children and the parents.

photo of Edmonton Family Lawyer Jordan Bienert of Capital City Law

Contact Edmonton Family Lawyer Jordan Bienert

To speak with Jordan about your child custody questions, please contact our office today at (780) 462-4321 or contact us online.

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