Common Questions about Family Law
How do I get custody of my child?
Many people do not realize that “custody” means having the authority to make major decisions for the child, about where they will go to daycare and school, taking them to the doctor and dentist, and deciding whether they will learn about religion. It is now recognized that children will do better if they have the benefit of both parents in their lives, so it is very important to try to get along with your child’s other parent so that your child will have a chance for a normal life. This includes getting along with new step-parents in their life, and grandparents on both sides.
If you can succeed at this, joint custody may be the best option. Joint custody can work well if the parents can communicate and treat each other with respect. Courts will give sole custody to one parent if there is evidence that the other parent is not capable of being a good parent. This is very hard to prove, and would only happen in cases of violence, drug use, neglect, and general bad parenting. Sometimes courts will give custody to the parent who shows that they will encourage the children to have a good relationship with the other parent.
My ex is not letting me see my child. What can I do?
First, you should send your ex a letter or email saying exactly how often you want to see your child. If they ignore this request, or say no without giving a good reason, you probably need to start a court application to protect your child’s rights to have a relationship with you. It is very important that you get a lawyer to help you with this.
If they are saying that you are not able to care for your child, you may need to prove that you are able. You can take a parenting course offered in your community and get proof that you attended the whole program and that you completed it.
You can try to set up supervised access for a while, if possible with one of your family members or friends who is already a parent. This means that you would have your visits with your child as often as possible with this person present. Once you have done this for a few months, you can ask to have this reviewed by the court, so that you can start having unsupervised access.
If the other parent does not agree to this, you can apply to the supervised access centre in your community and go to this program for a few months. The benefit to this type of program is that there is a witness present and they will take notes to show that you are acting properly with your child. You should always bring healthy snacks, drinks and activities to do with your child to the visits.
If the local child protection agency is involved, it is important that you do everything that they require. This might include attending counseling, anger management programs or rehab programs if you have problems with alcohol or drugs. Sometimes they may require that you attend school or get a job to show that you are responsible.