Unless parties can agree on these issues, this area of often presents one of the greatest challenges to settlement of a case. In addition, the needs of children change as they mature and this means that the optimal plan for their care can change over time.
Ultimately the legal standard applied to determine child care arrangements will depend on the court’s determination of the child’s best interests. The imprecision involved in determining those interests frequently results in high conflict between parties. In the event of a trial or motion, decisions will be based on findings of fact. This in turn will depend on the credibility of parties and their ability to muster evidence in support of their positions.
There are various ways of describing custody and access. Legally there is a distinction between joint custody, where both parents participate in major decision making, and sole custody, where one parent is primarily responsible. I advise clients to take a child focused approach to these questions.
More recently, the courts have sought to avoid these often polarizing concepts, preferring instead to describe child care arrangements by establishing primary residence and scheduling time with the non-residential parent.
Each case involving custody and access is unique and fact specific. Please contact us should you require further information.