Custody battles are some of the most frightening, emotional legal battles you’ll ever go through. The outcome is uncertain and your child’s future hangs in the balance, as does your future relationship with your child.
Our team of lawyers helps both those who are suing for custody and those who are being sued. We will help you put your best foot forward in court.
How do I get sole custody in Alberta?
While it is common for one parent to have “primary care and control” of a child in Alberta, “sole custody” is rare. Sole custody means you have guardianship over your child as well as primary care and control.
Guardianship is the right to make decisions for the child including their day to day care, medical decisions, educational decisions, religious upbringing, and deciding where the child should live and with whom. Usually both parents retain guardianship regardless of who has primary care and control. Having sole custody does not mean the other parent will lose access to the child.
Generally, the only time a parent might lose guardianship of a child is if they are an unfit parent. Even an “unfit” parent will be given access to the child in most cases, even if it’s supervised access under the watchful eye of a third party. Access may be removed only when the parent poses a clear and present danger to the child.
What is an unfit parent in Alberta?
An unfit parent is a parent who is incapable or unwilling to provide a child with guidance, care, and support. Alcohol use, drug abuse, and domestic violence are the most common reasons why a parent may be declared “unfit,” but there are others.
The courts look at several factors like:
- Does the parent set age-appropriate limits? For example, do teenagers have a curfew or are they allowed to roam at all hours? Is an elementary-aged child being allowed to watch gory horror movies, or shows with lots of sexual content?
- Is the child responsive to the child’s needs?
- Is the parent physically, mentally, and emotionally capable of taking care of the child?
- Is the parent willing to help the child foster a relationship with the other parent?
- Has there been evidence of alcohol abuse, drug abuse, or child abuse?
- Does the parent have a history of mental illness? Is it under control?
- Is the parent capable of supporting the child’s need to engage in social activities?
- How does the child feel about the parent?
You will need a case that focuses on your strengths as a parent if you want to demonstrate that you’re not an unfit parent. If you’re trying to prove the other parent is unfit, you will need a lot of evidence. Either way, you’ll need an experienced family law lawyer by your side.
Can my child decide which parent they want to live with?
The child’s input will be considered, but it is one of many factors a judge will use. A child’s preferences alone won’t determine how the case goes. There is also no magic age at which a child’s input may be considered. It matters, but not as much as people might think.
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