Legal custody vs physical custody
The point is that custody refers to decision-making authority more than it means the physical care of a child. Child custody schedules vary from family to family. However when a parent has sole custody vs joint custody they will more likely than not have more parenting time than the other parent.
At Pathway Legal, when assisting a parent with getting custody of a child in BC, we prefer to use mediation for child custody. We believe this to be a helpful and useful process even if the parties have fundamental different views as to what is in the best interest of their children.
Getting custody of a child in BC - meet Elmo and Elsa - a case in point
In a case we had at our law firm recently, we were dealing with two parents who had diametrically opposed ideas as to what was in the best interest of their two children. We will call the Dad Elmo, and the Mom, Elsa.
Elsa and Elmo have two children. A boy, we will call him Damien of seven and a girl, we will call her Buttercup, of four. The one thing that Elmo and Elsa could agree upon was that Damien was a handful. He had behavioural challenges that included him climbing all over the table at dinner time, breaking things, screaming, and being sent home from school. Buttercup, all agreed, was a very pleasant young person and easy-going.
Elsa was the kind of parent that believed that disciplining children was equal to being abusive. Elmo, on the other hand, believed that their children, and Damien in particular, needed to have boundaries, and expectations.
Elmo thought Elsa was a terrible parent. Elsa thought Elmo was a terrible parent.
Elmo and Elsa each hired lawyers for child custody. Elmo hired our family law firm, and Elsa hired another law firm. Each of them came to their lawyers wanting to know the best evidence for child custody they would need so they could accomplish their goal of sole custody vs. joint custody. Each of them believed they were the better parent. Elsa not only wanted to have sole custody in terms of decision-making, she also believed she should have sole physical custody of Damien and Buttercup.
Both Elma and Elsa, when their lawyers first met with them, were 100% focused on finding out what they needed for their best evidence for child custody.
Here is the magical part. We were able to reach a child custody agreement without court. Elmo and Elsa agreed to attend mediation for child custody and resolved everything! How did they manage that you ask? The parties (and their lawyers, if we may say so ourselves) got really creative. Because Elmo and Elsa really believed in doing what is best for Damien and Buttercup, they hired a parenting expert. So, rather than fight about sole custody v. joint custody or getting custody of a child, they focused on what was working and what would work going forward for their kids.
They were able to agree upon a 60-40 custody schedule at first, but then have agreed to move into a 50-50 custody schedule once they meet with the parenting expert.
Talking to children about divorce
Deciding to separate and divorce is not easy. Talking to your kids about it can be even harder. The thing we always tell our clients is that the studies prove that children get over the fact of their parent’s separation and divorce, at least after an initial bumpy time. Kids get over it and adjust as long as the parents are able to handle the process properly and keep their kids out of conflict. Keeping kids out of conflict starts from your very first conversation with them about your divorce.
Best evidence for child custody
As we said, getting custody of a child in British Columbia is a big deal. The BC Family Law Act’s focus is on having both parents involved with their kids. At the same time, the child’s best interests are the only concern. So, if shared parenting is not in your child’s best interest, you have to have the evidence to convince a judge, mediator, lawyer, or arbitrator as to why. Getting sole custody of a child is not easy, and you must have very good reasons. If your kids are in an unfortunate situation where you need to have primary parenting and decision-making in order to keep them safe, discover more about the best evidence you will need.