The best interests of the children is the governing principle for determining all questions relating to their parenting. Many parents are able to put aside their differences on the adult level and by concentrating on the children’s needs, work out the most suitable parenting plan in the circumstances. Sometimes they will need help from a family professional with a background in social work to better understand what their children are going through and to help them manage any emotional conflict that interferes with the discussion staying on track. Your lawyer can make a referral for this purpose. A prime consideration in the planning will be to determine how you and the other parent can continue to be involved with the children and remain a significant part of their lives. In circumstances where the relationship between the parents is too damaged to co-operate on the planning, some variation of sole custody to one parent subject to access by the other parent is usually negotiated or ordered.
Gary Joseph and Michael Stangarone are lawyers with Toronto’s MacDonald & Partners family-law firm.