In a child custody dispute, fathers can feel they are at a disadvantage in terms of securing parenting time and rights to be a part of their child’s life. Often, they feel like the deck is stacked against them because of procedural unfairness or because they have a less-than-perfect parenting history.
However, before you make any assumptions or concessions about your rights and legal options, you may want to consult others who can help you bolster your claim for access, parenting time, visitation or custody.
- Your family law lawyer: You may not be familiar with provincial laws or procedures, but you can work with a lawyer who is. He or she can explain rules and provide guidance. Your lawyer can also protect your interests and help you avoid costly missteps that further complicate your situation.
- Mediators and counsellors: When parents cannot agree on what is in a child’s best interests, a mediator or custody counsellor can provide critical insight for parents. They can speak on behalf of a child and suggest the type of arrangement that can be best for the child. Mediators and counsellors cannot legally impose any particular arrangement against a parent’s wishes.
- A private assessment: Some parents opt to hire a private professional to conduct a professional evaluation. These trained individuals come from various backgrounds, and they conduct interviews and prepare reports to make recommendations on child-related matters. A private assessment is not necessarily binding on the judge but judges tend to put a lot of trust in these assessments.
- Other professionals: In some cases, other professionals can be valuable in helping parents and courts make decisions on custody. For instance, medical doctors can provide information on a parent or child’s medical needs. Parents might even consult educators or coaches familiar with a child’s needs.
- Your child: Depending on your child’s age, he or she may have a strong preference for where they’d like to live. This opinion can hold increasingly significant weight as a child gets older, so it is crucial to consider what your child wants. The courts in some jurisdictions (such as Ontario) have means of getting a child’s views and preferences before the parents and if necessary, before the court.
Too often, parents feel they must confront custody, access, parenting time or visitation issues alone. However, numerous people can assist people facing legal challenges.
Thus, before you make any decisions about your legal options or parental rights, you might consider reaching out for help. Doing so can protect you from an unfair agreement stemming from bias, discrimination and misinformation. It is important to first discuss these options with your family law lawyer.