Child Custody Lawyers in Strathmore, AB Helping Clients in Need
There are often many complicated factors to a divorce, especially if the two do not part amicably. However, things can turn bad or worse when the two share a child. Most parents want what is best for their children, but occasionally there are disagreements about what that is or the right way to get there while considering what’s in a child’s best interests.
If a parent seeks sole custody (sometimes called “full” custody), they must usually have an excellent reason to do so. It can be complicated to convince a court that being separated from one parent for the majority of the time is what’s in a child’s best interest.
There are many types of custody, some of which may work better for different situations. We’ll cover:
- What it means to be granted custody
- The differences between physical and legal custody
- The advantages and disadvantages of joint custody
- To whom to turn to get the process started
What Does It Mean to Be Granted Custody of a Child?
First, what IS child custody? There are four types of custody:
- Physical custody
- Legal custody
- Sole custody
- Joint custody
Physical vs. Legal
When the average person thinks ‘custody,’ they are most likely considering physical custody. Physical custody regards whom the child spends the most in the direct care of, as well as with whom the child will live.
Legal custody is regarding what person makes critical legal decisions concerning the child, medical care, schooling, or other matters.
We will go into more detail below.
Sole vs. Joint custody:
Joint custody is when two parties share custody over the child. While it is rarely an exact 50/50 split, both parents are meant to receive the same amount of time with the child and have equal input on their well-being and significant life decisions. The courts in Alberta intend joint custody to be the default arrangement.
Sole custody is when a child resides primarily or permanently with one parent or guardian.
What is Physical Custody?
Physical custody concerns where the child will reside and who will provide child care daily. If the court grants both parents joint physical custody, the child will stay with each parent for roughly 50% of the time. Often it is impossible to ensure both parents’ time with the child is split precisely, though the parents should make their best effort to do so.
If only one parent is granted custody, the court can choose between the two by considering several factors.
- Age of the child; whether a child is old enough to make their own decisions
- Relationship between a child and each parent
- Where will the child be going to school
- The location of a child’s siblings
- The mental and physical well-being of the parents
- Parent’s caretaking capabilities
- Which parent can provide the most stable environment for children
- Distance between homes
- Living accommodations, including if a parent is living in the home where the parents raised the child while they were together
- Many other factors
What is Legal Custody?
Legal custody of a child determines the principal decision-maker in the child’s life. If both parents are granted joint legal custody, they must cooperate in co-parenting their children properly. If a significant decision, such as education, healthcare, or other, is to be made, then both parents must be notified and allowed to weigh their views on the matter.
When granting sole legal custody, a judge ultimately decides which parent will give the child a more likely road to success. The deciding factors could be several things:
- A parent’s criminal, stability, or drug-/alcohol-abuse history
- History of abuse toward the child or other parent
- Amount of time the parent can reasonably attend to the children
- Ability to communicate with another parent on child-related issues
- How willing each parent is to facilitate a relationship with the other parent
- Child’s mental/physical health
- Several other factors
What Are The Advantages and Disadvantages of Joint Child Custody?
A joint custody agreement is what the court strives to establish. It is not a perfect situation, but equivalent or nearly the same amount of time spent with both parents (if both are able) is what the consensus refers to as “the child’s best interest.”
A benefit of co-parenting is that the child can receive care, love, and influence from both parents. In a joint child custody situation, the court allows each parent to have equal input while mutually making decisions. This scenario enables each parent to have a meaningful role in the child’s upbringing, allowing for a more well-rounded experience for the child.
In some cases, concerning parents who have had a divorce, a joint custody situation can help reduce leftover friction between the divorced parents. Not to mention the stress reduction; having a co-parenting relationship allows each parent a second party to take responsibility during situations. No matter the case, raising a child can be a difficult task. If it takes a village, having one more person in your court that loves and cares for the child is an undue advantage of a joint child custody arrangement.
While an amicable relationship between two loving parents can sound idyllic, there are some harsh realities to a joint child custody situation. Even in the most cooperative co-parenting relationships, children easily find the constant move between parents’ houses very stressful. Some children, especially those with some types of neurodivergence, can find it challenging to adjust to lifestyle swings. Small children are especially resistant to constant and sudden changes, preferring stability as they grow and learn the routines that will help them navigate their lives.
While some divorced couples find that the common ground of co-parenting a child can help their relationships, others will find that more issues and fights arise. Often, in this case, a child can feel pulled between two adults who care for them. The bickering between two people who care for them very much can confuse and upset children of any age. Also, in the struggle to communicate with each other, a child’s individual needs may go unnoticed by the adults unhappy with their situation. A child may feel undue pressure to keep their own needs quiet for the risk of upsetting each parent and their moments of stability.
What Do I Do Next?
There are several benefits to hiring a lawyer as a third party to represent you during your divorce and help you in your custody arrangements.
A lawyer with a history of family law will be able to file the necessary paperwork, keep your goals on track, and allow you the peace of mind of knowing that you have been represented professionally in an environment that can be challenging. If you’re ready to schedule a consultation with a family law lawyer, call (403) 934-2500 to speak with Getz Collins and Associates about a consultation today.