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COVID-19 AND HOW TO NAVIGATE PARENTING SCHEDULES IN THE CRISIS

Momentous times we now live in. Even scary. But life goes on and family law issues will not just go away as Ontarians hunker down. What might be the implications of this virus for those embroiled with family law issues such as custody and access, division of parenting time and the like?

What custody schedule may work best for you and your kids?

It's common for Toronto family law judges to encourage parents to sort out a custody schedule among themselves. Many parents here in Ontario find deciding how to trade-off time with their child difficult to do. There are some popular custody schedules that you may be able to use in negotiating with your ex though.

Alternating weeks schedules are perhaps most common. Your child would spend an entire week at one parent's house then the following at the other's as part of this custody schedule. You may do tradeoffs on the weekends.

Putting your children's best interests first

If you're going through a divorce or a custody dispute, it is important to put the needs of your children before your own. You want your decisions to reflect their best interests.

How do you determine what their best interests really are? It's not just what they want, though you may want to consider that, especially with older children. Don't worry: The court also focuses on your children's best interests. Some of the things they consider include:

  • Your children's ages
  • Your children's genders
  • Any evidence from you or your spouse of criminal activity
  • Special needs that the children have
  • Who already provides most of the care for the children
  • Your physical health, along with that of your co-parent
  • Both parents' mental health
  • The school your children attend
  • The neighborhoods in which you live
  • The roles of your extended family members

    Civility During Divorce Proceedings

    Sometimes it can be difficult to remain calm during divorce proceedings. The reason for the divorce, whether it was an affair, poor financial decisions or whatever the case may be, generally does not have a major impact when a couple is dividing their shared assets.

    However, the feelings behind the grounds for divorce may sometimes show themselves during negotiations. The effects of these raised feelings may not create the best atmosphere for the separating couple, and it’s possible the negotiations may not turn out the way either party had hoped.

    How will a divorce impact your finances?

    Our readers may know friends or family members who have gone through a divorce and would describe the process with one word: difficult. There is no doubt that a divorce is life-altering; for many people, it can take years to move on from both the emotional devastation and the financial ramifications. So, how will a divorce impact your finances?

    Well, as a recent news article noted (caution to Canadian readers - the linked article is from the States; we do things a bit differently in Canada), the financial impact of a divorce can be hugely different based on one factor: whether or not the divorcing couple has children. If there are children involved in the divorce, issues like child support will be a part of the case. And, if one of the parents is ordered to pay child support to the other, that is a financial commitment that can last years. Falling behind on child support payments can lead to wage garnishment and other measures that can ruin one's finances.

    The basics of an Ontario divorce

    Getting divorce is never pleasant, but it can be simplified if the parties know what to expect. Removing the parties' anxiety about the process can help each of them deal with whatever anger they may feel for their soon-to-be ex-marital partner and focus on the issues that must be resolved.

    The following summary assumes that the parties have reached an agreement on material issues such as child custody, child support and alimony. The only issue in these circumstances, then, is obtaining a legal end to the marriage.

    Dedication to solving complex family law issues

    Ontarians who have ever faced a complicated family law issue know how emotional and trying the process can be. From high asset divorce cases to child custody issues, to fighting for a father's rights, the range of family law issues that might come up in any given person's life is expansive. When dealing with these issues, some people may feel compelled to take the, "stick your head in the sand" approach because they do not want to deal with the emotions involved. However, being dedicated to addressing the issues head-on, getting the best result possible and then moving on with life can be a better approach for most people.

    Divorce cases, for example, are, in essence, the division of a relationship or even an entire family. In many cases, years of animosity have led to the split or perhaps, even a single, explosive incident led to the divorce. Either way, people have hurt feelings and face uncertainty about what their lives will look like post-divorce. This is understandable at the very least, but also something to be expected.

    Will "virtual" visitation be part of your visitation plan?

    When Ontario couples who are parents of minor children get divorced, they oftentimes need to setup an arrangement by which each parent can spend time with the children. Sometimes, the parents will share approximately equal amounts of time with the children. However, in other situations, that simply is not possible, for any number of reasons. One creative way to maximize parent/child contact is to set up a form of  "virtual" visitation. Whether virtual visitation is part of a divorce settlement or order depends on the facts of each case.

    If the parties are up for it, and the family court judge approves, including virtual visitation in the overall child parenting plan in a divorce case can help give parents access to their children, even when they are not in the same place, physically. Virtual visitation includes interaction between parents and children via cellphones, texting, video messaging apps and other modern technology that allows the parties to see each other, talk and, in general, simply stay in contact more frequently.

    Understanding the basics about Canadian child custody

    Child custody can be one of the most contentious issues that comes up in a divorce case. For our readers, that is probably understandable, since parents only want what is best for their children. The problem that arises in child custody disputes is that sometimes, parents disagree on what, exactly, is in their child's best interests. Understanding the basics of child custody can help parents come to terms with how their specific legal arrangement will turn out.

    For starters, there are two parts of the child custody puzzle: "legal" custody and "physical" custody. Legal custody refers to which of the parents -- or both -- has the right to make important decisions about how the child will be raised, such as where the child will go to school, where the child will receive medical care and what type of medical care will be given and how the child will spend time in extracurricular activities. In essence, the parent with "legal" custody of the child gets to make the decisions that will have the biggest effect on the child's life. Most family law judges though, prefer that both parents have legal custody, thereby, having the ability to give input on these important decisions.

    ANXIETY MAY INHIBIT RATIONAL DECISION MAKING... BUT WE CAN HELP!

    by Jessica Cohen

    Physiological consequences of anxiety: Most of us know the dreaded feelings of anxiety. Even if you don't suffer from clinical anxiety, you may recognize how certain triggers make you more aggravated or worried. These triggers may affect our performance, body temperature, or ability to concentrate or remember information. When one feels anxious, he or she might act out and become very angry and defensive or might coil up and turn in - not being able to act or react at all.

    Contact Gene C. Colman for a customized legal strategy today.

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