What is Access
Access, or visitation rights relate strictly to the time a child spends with each parent. Access, or visitation rights have nothing to do with custody, as it does not relate to decision making power.
Changing Trend in Access Orders
Historically, fathers saw themselves being awarded alternate weekend access, plus a few hours, or an overnight visit, on his off week. This trend is becoming less and less popular.
Increasingly, courts are finding that it is in a child’s best interest to spend as much time with their father as they do with their mother, after the date of separation. That said, it will be difficult for a parent, who has historically had little involvement in the child’s life to seek an order for equal time sharing, or ‘shared custody’, also known as ‘shared parenting’.
Today’s reality for many families is that both mom and dad work outside of the home, have careers, bring the children to doctors appointments, to daycare, extra-curricular activities, and so on.
Both fathers and mothers change diapers, feed the children, make lunches, cook meals, and give physical and verbal affection.
Because the traditional roles in the Canadian family have changed, so have the standard court orders. Judges are increasingly, considering both parents as suitable custodial parents, which often results into joint custody orders, with equal time sharing, or shared custody.
That said, for children aged 0-5, many courts are finding it to be in a child’s best interest to primarily reside with their mothers. In such circumstances, short but frequent visits are often recommended.
In circumstances where a parent has no prior relationship with the child, or in cases of substance abuse, violence, or evidence that the child may be at risk, it may be appropriate to implement supervised access visits. The visits can be supervised at the ‘Supervised Access Centre’, or by a suitable third party. Such cases may require the involvement of the Office of the Children’s Lawyer.
In the most extreme circumstances involving severe substance abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, violence, or neglect, no access may be appropriate. Such circumstances may require the involvement of the Children’s Aid Society, and the Office of the Children’s Lawyer. Each and every case is determined on its unique set of facts.
Please feel free to contact me in order to schedule a free, confidential, initial consultation: 613.841.9099 ext. 1.