Who gets Sole Custody?

As a family lawyer, I am consulted every day by clients wanting to fight for sole custody of their children. Custody and access litigation is the main focus at Coyne Family Law. We represent parents in London/St. Thomas and surrounding areas.

Parents may want sole custody because the other parent is neglectful of the children. The other parent may be a poor decision-maker or they may have never shown any interest in sharing decision-making for the child.

It is important to have reasonable expectations about the likely result of your custody and access litigation. Let’s start by defining some terms.

What is “Custody?”

Most people think of “custody” as referring to the geography of the children. In other words, the children live with the parent who “has” custody. Not true. Custody has nothing to do with the child’s living arrangements!

“Custody” refers to Decision-Making Authority.

In Ontario, family law, the default principle is that both parents have an equal right to guide and raise their children. In many scenarios, even though the relationship between the parents has broken down, there is a history of joint decision-making for the child. Evidence of historical decision-making is important when it comes to determining decision-making authority for children.

London Child Custody Lawyer

Parents who have “joint custody” have an equal right to make important decisions about the child. Important decisions are decisions about education, religion & culture, and medical care. Where a court makes an Order for joint custody, parents are expected to consult with each other and they are expected to reach joint decisions.

For example, a child could visit one parent every other weekend in a joint custody situation. 

Who gets custody of the children?

Courts place a high value on each parent’s contribution to the child’s upbringing. However, in some relationships, the conflict between parents makes joint decision-making impossible. The court will ask, what was the pattern of decision-making throughout the relationship?

Turn your mind to the evidence of the pattern of decision-making. Think back – did you choose your child’s daycare or school together? What about the doctor or dentist? Who took kids to appointments? What about sports registrations or dance? Who arranged the baptism?

At Coyne Family Law, the focus is on custody and access litigation. If you need help making a case for custody, Reach out. We can help.


This Web site provides general information on family law related matters and should not be relied upon as legal advice. If you would like to retain COYNE LAW to give you legal advice, please contact London/ST. Thomas Family Lawyer Rebecca Coyne, I would be pleased to discuss whether or not the firm can assist you.

Leave a Reply