Parenting after separation or divorce can be challenging. Here are the basics of legal custody in BC.
What is custody?
Legal custody is the right to make decisions about your child’s care and upbringing. This includes day-to-day decisions as well as major decisions regarding the child’s religion, education, health, and medical treatments.
What are the different types of custody arrangements?
A parent with sole custody has unilateral authority to make decisions about his or her child. In most sole custody arrangements, the child will live with that parent for all or most of the time.
Parents with joint custody must share the rights and responsibilities of parenting. Joint legal custody means both parents have an equal say in decisions about the child. Neither parent has the right to unilaterally make major decisions about the child’s care or upbringing. If you have joint legal custody, a variety of living arrangements are possible. Your child may live mostly with you, or your child may live with both parents in what a known as a shared custody arrangement.
What is shared custody?
Shared custody is a type of joint legal custody. If you have shared custody, it means your child spends at least 40% of the time you and at least 40% with the other parent.
A shared custody arrangement will impact child support obligations. Generally speaking, if one parent has sole custody or the child lives primarily with one parent, the other parent is obligated to pay full child support. In a shared custody arrangement, child support is typically only paid by the higher-income parent. The amount of child support is the difference between what each parent would pay to the other if the other parent had sole custody.
What is split custody?
For families with two or more children, split custody may be an option. Under a split custody arrangement, the children are “split up” so that each parent has one or more of the children living primarily with them. Split custody arrangements are not common but may be used if it is in the best interests of the children.
How is access different from legal custody?
Access—which is sometimes called “visitation”—is when the child spends time with the parent they do not primarily live with. For example, in a sole custody arrangement, a non-custodial parent may have visitation rights (access) but not decision-making authority (custody).
What legal custody arrangement is best?
Each family is unique. Reach out to our child custody lawyers for advice on your custody rights and the best legal custody arrangement for your children.