When parents separate or divorce, determining child custody arrangements can be a challenging and emotional process. In British Columbia, the law prioritizes the best interests of the child when making decisions related to custody and parenting arrangements.
Family lawyers can provide guidance and support during this difficult time. In this article, we will discuss what to expect when determining a child custody arrangement in British Columbia.
Legal Framework for Child Custody Arrangements in BC
The legal framework for child custody arrangements in British Columbia is based on the federal Divorce Act and the provincial Family Law Act. Under these laws, the best interests of the child are the primary consideration when making decisions about custody, parenting arrangements, and access.
Types of Custody Arrangements
There are different types of custody arrangements in British Columbia, including sole custody, joint custody, and shared custody.
- Sole Custody
Sole custody means that one parent has the primary responsibility for making decisions about the child’s upbringing, while the other parent may have access rights.
- Joint Custody
Joint custody means that both parents make decisions about the child’s upbringing together, even if the child primarily lives with one parent.
- Shared Custody
Shared custody is when the child spends roughly equal time with both parents.
Factors Considered in Custody Determinations
When determining child custody arrangements, the court considers several factors, including the child’s needs and preferences, the parents’ ability to care for the child, the child’s relationship with each parent, and any history of family violence or abuse. The court may also consider the child’s cultural background, language, and religion.
In British Columbia, parents are encouraged to work together to develop a parenting plan that outlines custody, parenting arrangements, and access. This plan should be in the best interests of the child and can be submitted to the court for approval.
A parenting plan can address issues such as decision-making, communication between parents, and how to resolve disputes.
Mediation and Arbitration
Parents may also choose to engage in mediation or arbitration to resolve disputes related to custody and parenting arrangements. Mediation involves a neutral third party who helps the parents reach an agreement, while arbitration involves a neutral third party who makes a binding decision.
Mediation and arbitration can be less expensive and less time-consuming than going to court.
Enforcement of Custody Orders
Once a custody order is in place, both parents are legally obligated to comply with its terms. If one parent does not follow the custody order, the other parent can seek enforcement through the court system. This may involve filing a contempt of court motion or seeking a change in custody arrangements.
Alternative Dispute Resolution Methods
Apart from mediation and arbitration, there are other alternative dispute resolution methods that parents can consider to resolve disputes related to child custody arrangements. These methods include collaborative law, negotiation, and parenting coordination.
Collaborative law involves each parent hiring a lawyer to negotiate an agreement that meets the needs of both parties. Negotiation is a process in which both parents engage in discussions to reach an agreement without the involvement of a neutral third party.
Parenting coordination involves the appointment of a neutral third party to assist parents in resolving conflicts related to parenting arrangements.
Determining child custody arrangements in British Columbia can be a complex and emotional process. Family lawyers can provide guidance and support to help parents make decisions that are in the best interests of the child.
By understanding the legal framework for child custody arrangements, the types of custody arrangements available, and the factors considered in custody determinations, parents can work together to develop a parenting plan that promotes the well-being of their child.
If you are facing a child custody battle in the Fraser Valley area, don’t hesitate to contact us at Dreyer and Associates. Our child custody lawyers have an in-depth understanding of the legal system and are well-versed in family law. We will work with you to understand your unique situation and develop a personalized legal strategy to achieve your goals. Call us today to schedule a consultation!