Navigating Child Custody and Access Issues in British Columbia

mother and child

The well-being and future of your children are of paramount importance when separating or undergoing a divorce. As such, addressing child custody and access issues can often prove to be one of the most complex and emotionally charged aspects of family law proceedings. In British Columbia, it is crucial to comprehend the unique legal landscape, relevant terminology, and factors considered by the courts when determining child custody and access arrangements. Partnering with experienced family law professionals can help ensure that your parental rights are protected and your child’s best interests remain at the forefront throughout the process.

In this article, we will explore the critical aspects of child custody and access in British Columbia, including the difference between guardianship, parenting time, and parental responsibilities, as well as the key factors that influence the courts’ decisions in determining these arrangements. We will also provide insights into the role of legal professionals in effectively advocating for your rights, presenting relevant evidence, and collaborating with you to develop a comprehensive parenting plan that meets your family’s unique needs.

At Dreyer and Associates, our compassionate team of experienced attorneys is committed to supporting clients as they navigate the often challenging custody and access landscape. Our client-focused, results-driven approach ensures that we provide tailored legal services, addressing your specific circumstances and concerns while protecting both your child’s best interests and your parental rights.

With a comprehensive understanding of the complexities surrounding child custody and access issues in British Columbia, you can feel confident in your ability to navigate this sensitive process with the professional guidance and support of the expert team at Dreyer and Associates. Whether you are in the early stages of separation or involved in ongoing custody disputes, our dedicated attorneys are here to help you achieve the best possible outcome for your family.

Understanding Key Terms in Child Custody and Access

1. Guardianship

In British Columbia, guardianship refers to the legal status that conveys the authority and responsibility for a child’s care, upbringing, and overall well-being. A guardian typically has decision-making powers regarding various aspects of a child’s life, such as education, healthcare, and religion. By default, both parents are regarded as guardians of their child, except in certain situations, such as when the child is born outside of marriage and the father’s paternity is in question.

2. Parenting Time

Parenting time is a term specific to British Columbia that refers to the time a guardian spends with the child. This time is allocated based on the best interests of the child and takes into consideration factors such as the child’s age, needs, and compatibility with each parent’s schedule. Essentially, parenting time aims to ensure that both parents have the opportunity to maintain a meaningful relationship with their child.

3. Parental Responsibilities

Distinct from guardianship, parental responsibilities are the specific duties and authority a guardian has concerning their child. Parental responsibilities can be shared equally between the parents or divided unequally based on the child’s best interests. These responsibilities can include aspects such as making decisions on healthcare and education or authorizing extracurricular activities.

4. Access

Access, also known as contact or visitation, refers to the time a non-guardian parent or person, such as a grandparent, spends with the child. Access orders can be granted by the court based on the assessment of the child’s best interests. Access arrangements can be customized to fit the child’s specific needs, schedules, and requirements.

Factors Influencing Custody and Access Decisions

1. Child’s Best Interests

In British Columbia, the child’s best interests are the paramount consideration when determining custody and access arrangements. These interests include factors such as the child’s emotional, psychological, and physical well-being, the child’s views and preferences, the relationship between the child and each parent, and the stability of the home environment offered by each parent.

2. Parenting History and Abilities

The court will take into account the history of a child’s care, the individual needs of the child, and each parent’s demonstrated ability to meet those needs when making custody and access determinations. This evaluation can include aspects such as each parent’s commitment to providing a stable, loving, and nurturing environment, as well as their ability to communicate and cooperate regarding parenting matters.

3. Siblings and Extended Family

The relationships between the child and their siblings, as well as other significant family members, may factor into custody and access decisions. Courts generally recognize the importance of preserving these relationships and may prioritize maintaining sibling bonds and connections with extended family when determining appropriate arrangements.

4. Safety Concerns

If there are concerns about a child’s safety or well-being due to issues of abuse, neglect, or substance problems with a parent, the court may limit that parent’s access or impose supervised visitation until the situation is resolved. In extreme cases, the court may revoke a parent’s guardianship or access rights entirely.

Strategies for Successfully Navigating Child Custody and Access Issues

1. Focus on Your Child’s Best Interests

During custody and access negotiations, prioritize your child’s best interests above all else. Ensuring a stable, loving, and nurturing environment for your child promotes their overall well-being and showcases your dedication and commitment as a parent.

2. Emphasize Collaborative and Co-Parenting Efforts

Demonstrating an ability to communicate effectively and work collaboratively with your co-parent can positively impact custody and access determinations. Evidence of a cooperative approach may include following a parenting plan, attending mediation or counselling together, and prioritizing your child’s well-being above personal disputes.

3. Maintain Thorough Documentation

Keep up-to-date records of your involvement in your child’s life, such as school activities, medical appointments, and special events. Such documentation can provide valuable evidence of your engagement and dedication to your child’s well-being and can be used to support your case during legal proceedings.

4. Seek Experienced Legal Representation

Retaining knowledgeable and compassionate legal representation will ensure you have the support, guidance, and advocacy needed during this challenging time. A skilled family law attorney can help you understand your rights, develop a comprehensive parenting plan, and navigate the complex legal landscape of child custody and access matters.


Navigating child custody and access in British Columbia can be an intricate and emotional process for all parties involved. With the support of expert legal counsel, like the team at Dreyer and Associates, your rights can be protected while maintaining a focus on your child’s best interests. 

Trust in the guidance and experience of our dedicated attorneys to help you successfully manage this challenging chapter in your family’s life. Contact Dreyer and Associates today to discuss your child custody and access concerns with a child custody lawyer in Langley, and let our skilled team support and guide you toward the best possible outcome for your family.





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