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Can I Get Sole Child Custody in Ottawa?

For parents, divorce or separation can be especially challenging. Along with other things, you will have to work out custody and visitation. You may be wondering: Can you get sole custody of your children? The short answer is “yes”—but you must be prepared to prove that sole custody (or decision-making authority) is in the best interests of the child. Within this blog post, our Ottawa child custody lawyer provides a comprehensive overview of the key points that you should understand about seeking sole custody of a child in Ontario. 

What is Sole Custody?

Under Ontario law (Children’s Law Reform Act), child custody is defined as “decision-making responsibility” for the child. When parents have shared custody, they both have decision-making authority. However, when one parent has sole custody, only he or she has the legal right to make important decisions on behalf of the child. To be clear, decision-making authority includes choices about education, health care, and religion. 

The Best Interests of the Child Take Priority

In Ottawa—similar to everywhere else in Ontario— the child’s best interests are always the top priority. In other words, if there is a dispute over child custody or child visitation, a court will resolve that conflict with a focus on working out an arrangement that is best for the child’s health, their safety, their well-being, and their long-term social development. What is desired by the parents is not irrelevant, but it is certainly a secondary factor to the best interests of the child. 

You Have the Right to Petition for Sole Custody in Ottawa

You Have the Right to Petition for Sole Custody in Ottawa

Sole custody can be awarded to a parent if it is deemed to be best to protect the health, safety, and well-being of the kid. The bottom line: In Ottawa, you have the right to ask for sole custody of your child. To do this, you must petition the court or come to an agreement on consent. You need a top-tier lawyer on your side. Within your court application, you need to explain why sole custody is in the child’s best interests. You should be prepared to provide evidence and possibly witness testimony to support your case. Here are is an overview of some circumstances that could potentially justify an award of sole custody in Canada:  

  • Safety Concerns: If one parent poses a risk to the child’s safety, sole custody may be awarded to the other parent. Safety issues could arise based on domestic violence, child abuse, or parental neglect.
  • Substance Abuse: If a parent struggles with substance abuse issues, such as alcohol or drug addiction, and it impacts their ability to care for the child, the court may grant sole custody to the other parent.
  • Mental Health Issues: Serious mental health issues that impair a parent’s ability to effectively and safely care for the child can lead to the award of sole custody to the other parent. These cases can be especially complicated. 
  • Total Unwillingness to Cooperate: If one parent consistently shows an unwillingness or inability to cooperate with the other parent and it negatively impacts the child, sole custody may be considered.
  • Absence or Abandonment: In cases where one parent is absent for long periods or has abandoned the child, sole custody might be granted to the present parent.
  • Child’s Preference: Depending on the child’s age and maturity, the court may consider the child’s preference. If the child strongly prefers to live with one parent, this can influence the decision. It is somewhat uncommon for sole custody to be awarded on these grounds, but it is possible in some cases—most notably, with teenagers.

Get Help From Ottawa Child Custody Lawyer Today

At RPB Family Law, our Ottawa child custody lawyer is a skilled, effective advocate for parents. If you have any questions about seeking sole custody of a child, we are more than ready to help. Give us a phone call now or connect with us online to arrange your confidential case review. From our Ottawa law office, we provide child custody representation to parents throughout Ontario.