What is the best parenting arrangement for my child?

At Meiling Law Offices, our primary goal is for your child to grow up in the best possible environment. The BC Provincial Family Law Act states that the best interests of the child are the sole consideration when deciding issues such as custody, parenting time, visitation rights, etc. The following criteria will be considered when parents and the court decide what parenting option is in the best interests of the child:

– the child’s physical, mental and emotional health;
– the child’s own opinions (unless it is inappropriate, such as when the child is young);
– the love and affection between the child and other important people in their life;
– the child’s age and The need for a stable living environment during the developmental stage;
– the child’s past growth and care;
– the ability of parents or others who wish to gain custody, parent-child time to care for the child;
– any domestic violence for the child’s physical and mental safety, security and well-being –
whether it is appropriate to require both parents to consult and cooperate in the care of the child;

It is worth noting that even if the “child’s own opinion” is taken into account by the court, it is only one of many factors to be considered and not the decisive one. The amount of weight a court will place on a child’s opinion depends on a variety of factors, including the child’s age and maturity, whether the child has been improperly influenced, and how the child is presented in the least affected way, so this is a complex and sensitive issue. If you think the court needs to listen to your child, you need a lawyer to work out the best way for you to achieve the best possible outcome.

When arranging the best parenting plan for their children, parents should pay attention to the child’s growth environment and opportunities. Parents must ask themselves:

– Does my home or my ex-partner’s home provide the best living conditions for our children?
– What activities or schools in my area can benefit our children?
– Why would my child benefit more from living with me than living with an ex-partner ?
– Who has more time to spend with their children?
– Who can provide more support and stability?
– Who can be a better role model for children and why?
– What can parents do to be better parents so their children can thrive?
– Are there any other factors that make me think my plan is best for my child?

We recommend that parents think broadly, preferably with specific examples. Also, remember to avoid talking about your own thoughts or beliefs and instead focus on facts and examples. In BC child custody and support arrangements, parents must show the judge that they have carefully and objectively considered their child’s future and have a specific plan for their child’s growth that is child-centred: Make sure your child’s needs always come first.

What are the different types of parenting plans (custody) in BC?

BC’s Family Code revises some legal terminology to reduce conflicts between parents after separation and divorce. One of the terms “custody” is no longer in use. It is now known as “guardianship” (the power to make decisions for the child), “parenting time” (the time spent physically with the child), and the two are collectively known as the “parenting arrangement” ). A bill is currently under consideration in Parliament to revise the guardianship and visitation provisions in the federal Divorce Act to align with the language of B.C.’s Family Code.

There are several types of parenting arrangements in BC:

Sole Custody: One parent has the legal responsibility to care for and make all decisions about the child. Children live mainly with one parent.

Final decision : One parent still has the responsibility to negotiate and reach consensus with the other parent on all decisions (or part of the decision) related to childcare, but even if they try their best to reach consensus, they can make the final decision; The right to apply to set aside this decision.

Joint Custody Both parents share the rights and responsibilities for their children. Children may live with both parents, or mostly with one parent, and both parents make decisions about their children. One form of joint custody is average shared parent-child time, where both parents are responsible for at least 40% of the child’s time.

Household Custody : In rare cases where there are two or more children, one or more of the children live with one parent and the other child or children live with the other parent (i.e. the children are separated). Note that this approach is rarely endorsed by the courts as it is generally believed that taking children apart is not good for their upbringing.

In addition to the above typical cases, there are many other parenting programs. Parents can fully adhere to the principle of maximizing the interests of their children and make arrangements that are more flexible and more suitable for their own circumstances.

As above, having joint custody means that you should seek advice from the other party on major decisions affecting your child. Such decisions may include the child’s education, extracurricular activities, including the nature, extent, and location of the activities; religious, cultural, health care decisions, and the exercise of any other reasonable responsibility necessary to nurture the child’s development.

When disagreements arise, the court may decide on your behalf, or you may need the coordination and assistance of a professional such as a parenting coordinator.

How can I get more custody rights?

Everyone can say they are a great parent; however, if you want more rights, you must be able to prove it to the court. Family law court judges want to see concrete evidence that parents are actually involved in their children’s lives.

What is a specific instance? For example, you can say that you attend all parent-teacher conferences and take an active part in your child’s school activities. Do you know your child’s doctor, dentist and teacher?

We recommend that you use a journal or calendar to keep track of the good times you spent with your children, as well as your parent-child time with each other. For example; your child’s school report card and attendance records will show if another parent is not sending their child to school on time, or is missing too many days, or is declining in grades.

Also, don’t throw away Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, and birthday cards from your child, as these are expressions of your child’s affection for you. If the other person refuses your parenting time or misses your own time, you need to keep a record: if one parent skips parenting time with the child, it means that there is no interest in the child, or a lack of love. Furthermore, if one parent refuses to visit, it shows that the parent does not care about the child’s well-being and refuses the child’s parenting time with the other parent.

What if there is a security risk?

The BC Family Code requires courts to focus on preventing domestic violence. For children, building and maintaining relationships with both parents is critical to their development. However, it is equally important that all family members feel safe in their environment and those children must be protected from physical, sexual, psychological and economic abuse. Neglect is also considered a form of abuse. To protect your child from harm, it may be necessary to supervise parenting time or use court processes, such as obtaining a protective order.

We have extensive experience in obtaining protection orders, including the rare “lifetime protection order”. Our attorneys understand that cases involving child or spousal abuse are complex and sensitive, and have extensive experience handling false, malicious allegations, helping clients navigate lawsuits full of conflict and lies. Child custody cases involving abuse in BC can be very difficult for victims and children. Our lawyers screen for domestic violence and have zero tolerance for it. Please do not hesitate to seek help and protection from our experienced legal team on time.

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