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If I don’t get custody, will I get to see my child?

Depending on the parenting agreement and best interests of the child, the answer could be yes. Custody does not prohibit a parent from seeing a child. Custody is about who gets to make decisions about raising the child.

Child-raising decisions include items like education and religion. It does not include the living arrangements of the child. It’s possible for one parent to have sole custody, but the child is allowed to split time living with both parents.

As outlined on Ontario's Steps to Justice page, a parent can have sole custody, or parents can have joint custody. In a sole custody situation, the custodial parent would:

  • Make the important decisions regarding the child’s upbringing
  • Inform the other parent of what these decisions are
  • Be the final say on issues that were up for debate

In a joint custody arrangement, both parents would have a say in making the final decisions for their child.

If there is any danger to the safety or well-being of the child, a parent may not be permitted access to his or her child. However, in cases where it is reasonable for both parents to develop a meaningful relationship with their child, they can discuss a co-parenting plan and living arrangements.

A parenting plan outlines how parents can arrive at decisions for their child. It can include issues such as which holidays each parent gets to spend with the child right down to, for example, how parents will decide when is the right time for their child to date.

What’s important to note is that parents don’t have to have all the answers when discussing how to parent their child at the time they separate or divorce. But it is important that parents arrange a way to communicate with each other when issues do arise.

If you have questions about custodial rights or parenting plans, it’s best to consult with an experienced family lawyer. He or she will be able to identify solutions customized to your specific family dynamic.

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