Parenting Issues

When the parents of a child or children do not live together, someone needs to determine where the children will live (“residence”), how much time they will spend with each parent (“access”), and how decisions about their upbringing will be made (“custody”).

When separation issues are dealt with through the courts, these decisions are made by a judge according to his or her analysis of what would be in the child’s best interests. When parents are able to work together to negotiate a solution, they can create a Parenting Plan based on their own consideration of the child’s best interests. The Parenting Plan may be incorporated into their Separation Agreement, and act as a blueprint or guide for how the parents will work together to raise their child or children now that they are living apart.

There are many misconceptions out there about the laws that apply to separated parents. For example, many people think that “custody” refers to which parent a child lives with. In fact, “custody” refers to the right to make major decisions about how to raise the child. It is not directly related to where the child lives or how much time the child spends with each parent. It is possible to have “joint custody” even if a child lives most of the time with one parent. On the other hand, a child can live 50% of the time with each parent under a “sole custody” arrangement – in that case, one parent would be responsible for all of the major decisions even though the child’s residence is shared.

Explore your process options


Here you will find links to articles to help explain the issues and options around family law.

Separation agreement paves path to well-structured divorce


By Jennifer Brown, Senior Editor Couples might be tempted to skip the separation agreement when they split, but it is an essential first step […]

Separation agreement not the final word on spousal support


By Staff A separation agreement is not always the final word on spousal support, says St. Catharines family lawyer and mediator Sharon Silbert. In a […]