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Relocating children may pose dilemma in Ontario child custody

Children don't come into the world with manuals outlining their needs and instructions on how to care for them. Parenting is a continuous learning experience, particularly when life's changing fortunes challenge Ontario divorced couples to prioritize their child's needs. When child custody has been awarded, each parent takes on a legal status as either custodial parent or access parent.

The distinction has always been an important one since the environment in which the child of divorced parents lives is, in the eyes of the court, crucial to the child's best interests. Yet a generation ago, courts viewed a custodial parent who intended to relocate with a child or children as having the right to do so, a presumptive right attached to the status of custody. This is no longer the case.

Consequently, the intention to relocate can initiate a slate of concerns between the access parent and the custodial parent. Their perspectives are likely to be widely divergent with one anxious to maintain the custody arrangement in place, and the other equally keen to alter the current arrangement to accommodate the move. An Ontario family law practitioner experienced in such serious child custody issues may assist in clarifying the deciding factors the law would take into account.

First and foremost, the court makes the child's welfare its primary concern, not that of the parents. A recognized need for children to have ongoing access to both parents as well as the effects of displacement from familiar social and educational milieus are only two of many other considerations. Since child custody legislation varies from province to province, a case involving relocation would require the knowledge of an Ontario family law lawyer, whether on behalf of the custodial parent or the access parent.

Source: findlaw.ca, "Can custodial parents move their children", Miriam Yosowich, Accessed on Sept. 4, 2017

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