Overview of how child custody works in British Columbia

When two parents get a divorce the matter of child custody is determined under the Divorce Act. There are three different forms of custody that a judge may order. These types include sole, joint and split custody.

When a parent is awarded sole custody, that parent is the only one legally responsible for taking care of the child. They are legally permitted to make all of the decisions regarding the child, and generally the child also resides with this person. Parents who are awarded joint custody share in these responsibilities, and the child may also live with one or both parents. A type of joint custody, shared custody, means that both parents are legally liable for the child a minimum of 40 percent of the time. In split custody situations, two or more children are involved. When there are two children, one child lives with the mother while the other child lives with the father.

A judge determines the type of custody for a divorcing family based on the best interests of the child. This means considering factors such as the child’s needs and health, as well as the child’s emotional, physical and psychological safety. The best interests of the child should also be the priority for parents who try to agree on custody without the interference of a judge.

Outside of divorce, unmarried parents who seek a decision in Provincial Court on who is legally responsible for caring for their child are applying under the Family Law Act. Some situations, however, could make it difficult for the parents to understand how the law applies to a particular case. Some individuals seek professional legal help under these circumstances. A lawyer could help a client throughout negotiations regarding child support and custody disputes.

Source: Family Law in British Columbia, “Custody“, November 25, 2014

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