1. What rights does a fourteen-year-old have in a family custody dispute?
For some people, getting a divorce is as easy as acquiring a lawyer and signing some papers. However, for individuals who have children this is unfortunately not the case. Adding children to the equation makes the process of going through a divorce a lot more complicated and stressful. Custody disputes are often hardest on children, the very people for whom the disputing parties claim to advocate on behalf of. The debate over the rights of a child to choose which parent they want to live with during a custody dispute has been raging for decades. The questions it generates involve whether a child should have a choice and at what age do they possess the mental capabilities to make such a choice? Canada does not set out a specific age at which a child may determine the parent with whom she lives. Instead, the desires of the child are considered with numerous other factors. All children, however, have a right to competent, non-abusive caregivers.
Many people are confused as to what exactly child custody means as it is also frequently used to indicate a child’s “residence”. “Custody” means decision making ability. Thus, If you have custody of your children, then you are legally entitled to make all the important decisions regarding your children’s lives. These are decisions about education, religion, medical treatment, etc. For example, while parents may have “joint custody” (joint decision making ability) the children may actually reside primarily with one parent for most of the time and a child’s residence is determinative of who will be the Payer or Recipient, of child support. When dealing with Child Custody in Canada our courts focus on one thing: The best interest of the children. In some situations the decision of child custody can be amicably decided by parents at the time of separation. If this is the case, then it is important that the couple ensure their agreements are properly documented in a legally binding separation agreement and in many cases, the parents agree on joint custody. However, there are times where a parent may want sole custody of children. For example, where a parent has never been involved in a child’s life, is unable to parent, or where a parent must leave the country permanently. In these cases it may make sense for one parent to have sole custody.
If an agreement between the two parents is not possible then deciding who will get custody and what type it will be, gets determined by the courts. This decision is never made lightly and divorce law sets out some basic principles for a judge to follow when making this important decision. When determining child custody i...