Which Parent Gets Custody?

When a marriage is ending parents worry most about what the future will look like for the kids. Clients dealing with divorce will always ask about child custody before addressing any other issue. As a divorce lawyer, I know that the kids are your top priority. Knowing what to expect in terms of custody of your children will help you to navigate your separation and prepare you for what lies ahead. 

What Is Meant by Custody?

It is commonly believed that the child will reside primarily with the parent who has “custody.” It’s usually assumed the custodial parent has the exclusive right to make major decisions about the child. In fact, this understanding is not reflective of the current legal landscape. Custody is no longer considered in terms of a win/lose contest between separating parents. The win/lose custody framework has been largely replaced by the concepts of “decision making” and “parenting time.”

Decision Making & Parenting Time

Custody can best be understood as a relationship with two basic aspects: the right to spend time with a child and the right to make decisions about a child. Determinations about these aspects of custody are made with reference to the best interests of the child. Courts approach the issue of custody from the position that, in low conflict situations, it is in the best interests of the child for parents to share both decision-making authority and parenting time.

Parents may also split decision-making authority, such that one parent has authority over some aspect of decision-making but not other aspects. For instance, one parent might have the authority to make educational and religious decisions, while the other parent retains the right to make medical and other day-to-day decisions. 

The default principle is that maximum contact with parents is in the best interest of a child. Therefore, parents will usually have an equal right to spend time parenting the child. However, maximum contact does not necessarily mean equal parenting time. A shared parenting time arrangement may involve a child spending alternate weeks with each parent, or 3 days/4 days, or alternate weekends, or any other combination that is in the best interests of the child. 

In some circumstances, a child’s best interests are not served by shared decision-making authority or equal parenting time. For example, in cases where there is a high degree of conflict between parents, where there is abuse, or where a child would be required to spend an unreasonable amount of time traveling, a court may make an order that diverges from the presumption. 

It can be difficult to reach an agreement with your spouse when making decisions about children. We can help you understand your legal rights and obligations, and help to create the best possible arrangement for you and your children. 

Give us a call at (226) 781-4100, visit, or click here to book a consultation today if you need a London child custody lawyer

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.

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