Experience & Understanding
Family dynamics are changing. The modern family is seeing far more variation than the static nuclear family of the 20th century. Divorce and divorce agreements are changing as well to accommodate these paradigm shifts in family structure. Just a generation ago, divorce usually meant a custody situation in which custody was granted to the mother, with some partial custody or visitation going to the father. But it’s no longer a given that the father will work or generate the most income. Nor is it a given that the split will be fraught with hostility.
As a result of these changing family dynamics, of the 4 main types of custody in Canada – sole custody, joint custody, shared custody, and split custody – shared custody is becoming a much more common arrangement in Canadian divorce settlements. Like joint custody, shared custody splits custody and living arrangements between both spouses, but where joint custody can vary greatly in terms of the division of time spent with each parent, shared custody generally refers to an arrangement where both parents spend a minimum of 40% of the time with their children.
Ultimately, the best interest of the child is paramount. Custody arrangements should take into account not only the scheduling and flexibility of the parent, but that of the children. Schooling, doctor visits, sports, activities, all of these things need to be taken into consideration when making any determinations regarding custody and access. Routine is an extremely important part of childhood development, as it reinforces stability, and while it can sometimes be difficult for parents to confront, children’s preferences can impact their feelings of stability and security. Maintaining roles and routines as closely as possible to those prior to divorce or separation can be key. A full examination of schedules is required to determine the best case scenario for custody to maintain a happy, healthy daily routine for the children.
Modern variation and flexibility has also brought with it a change in the way custody negotiations are handled. It’s not uncommon for custody and access to be leveraged to affect child support. The logic being that if custody is shared almost equally, support payments should be too. With over 25 years of experience in divorce and custody disputes and as a certified specialist in Family Law, Jason P. Howie understands that children and their best interests are the most important factor in a divorce. He can be trusted to ensure that divorce proceedings never lose sight of that fact.
In Ontario, child support is determined based on a formula and is payable along with additional expenses that are not covered by the formula, such as the cost of day care, post-secondary education and medical expenses. Our clients often come to us with questions such as: Who will pay child support and for how long? These inquiries must be addressed on an individual basis, as the laws are not completely clear in every situation
While a lot of focus may fall on custody and/or support payments, some of the most stressful and difficult disputes revolve around the issue of relocations. A parent may relocate with children so long as the other parent’s access is not affected. Disputes most commonly occur when the distance of the relocation negatively impacts access. When one parent wants to relocate children, what should the expectation be with regards to custody and access? Does the existing custody arrangement allow for relocation? What is the motivation for relocation? Can the relocation be blocked or disputed? At what point do the wishes of the children themselves become a determining factor? How do issues of disruption of the child’s access to family and/or school impact the decision to relocate? An experienced lawyer like Jason Howie can help to answer these and other questions as they arise when relocation becomes an issue during or after a divorce.
To speak with an experienced Windsor family law lawyer about divorce and/or spousal support, call 519-973-1500 or contact us online. We serve clients in Windsor, Essex County and throughout the region.
Jason P. Howie, Professional Corporation
420 Devonshire Road
Windsor, ON N8Y 4T6
Serves clients in Windsor, Leamington, Tecumseh, Essex, Chatham-Kent, and throughout South Western Ontario.