Parents who have split up have equal rights of custody to their children until the courts decide otherwise. However, if only one parent obtains a legal order to take custody, the other parent can feel slighted. Therefore, both parents should obtain legal assistance when the separation isn’t amicable.
The family lawyer will take a position on the following when appearing before the court:
• The parent’s ability to provide financially and emotionally.
• The relationship each parent has with the child.
• The wishes of the child or children if they are old enough to communicate their wishes.
Lawyers will be aware of the following factors in making their argument:
• When there are two or more children born to the same parents, the court prefers to keep them together, rather than living in different homes.
• The court will try and minimize the disruption to the life of the child.
• The ability of the parent to spend time with their children in the future will also be weighed, as divorce results in increased financial burdens for both parents, frequently leading to increased working hours.
A lawyer will make the client aware of the situations favoured by the court:
• A devoted stay-at-home mother is almost always favoured over a working husband.
• The parent who has already taken control of the children before any declaration by the courts will typically find the status quo upheld.
• A parent that has been a primary caregiver for a child will find past experience supported by the court.
Working out a Conclusion
• Couples often agree on terms of reasonable access on reasonable notice, where the parents share the right to see, and receive information about, their children.
• Parents have to work out the days and times when they will each see the child.
• When there is reason to believe that a parent receiving access will harm the child, access can be arranged at a community centre, or another supervised setting.
Child Access versus Child Support
• The courts consider access and support to be separate matters. If one of those is being denied, the other parent is not allowed to retaliate by denying the other, as the child will suffer the most.
• A parent being denied the access or support provided for in an agreement or court order can bring further legal action, but their obligations must continue in the meantime.