Family Law Blog

WIll I Have to Pay More Child Support or Spousal Support to my Ex if I Move In With My New Girlfriend (or Boyfriend)?

shapeimage_2_291If you have been separated from your separated or divorced from your ex for a while, he or she may still be bitter if you move in with a new partner. If you new partner makes a good income, then your ex may want to try to share in that.   Assuming the property matters between you and your ex are resolved, then the only option is to seek more support.  Your ex can go to a family lawyer or divorce lawyer and get help seeking change child support relatively easel.  However,  if your ex may have trouble getting more spousal support if you have not been paying it for a while. 

Regarding child support, unless you are somehow sharing income with your wife (you are paying her as subcontractor, have an arrangement with your employer to pay her instead of you, etc.) her income is not relevant for the child support calculation.... unless she steps into the place of a parent (meaning she becomes more that just a friend to your kids or a babysitter). If she becomes a parent, then she may be liable for child support.  Here is a brief article and I covered the issue of step parents having to pay child support at the end of this podcast (the beginning may also have information you want to know before you move in with your girlfriend.) If your income has gone up since child support was originally set, you may owe more child support as child support is reviewable, and changeable, every year. See this article.

John's Book:

Guide to the Basics of Ontario Famly Law - an easy to understand book to help with separation, divorce, family court, mediation, arbitration and child welfare

An easy-to-understand guide to Ontario Family Law for non-lawyers. Click on the cover above to purchase on Amazon.

Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law Available on Kindle
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Spousal support is more complicated. It should never be based on your new partner's situation (unless you are diverting your income to your new partner).  However, it may be possible for your ex to ask to start it up again. A lot may depend on how support ended and whether you stopped paying pursuant to an order or agreement that specified an end date. It may also depend on how long ago that the spousal support stopped. If your ex has not been receiving spousal support for a while, then he or she may be "self-sufficient", which is one of the goals of spousal support. If your ex has already achieved self-sufficiency, it may be difficult for him or her to ask for more support. But, to see if your ex might qualify for support again, read this post or watch this video. To get the most piece of mind, you should speak to a family lawyer  or a divorce lawyer who can apply the law to your situation. Also, this easy-to-understand best-selling book explains child support and spousal support, and how your new partner can become responsible for child support for your kids, in more detail.  It also explains what your spouse has to do to change the current support situation. It also explains the basics of almost every other family law issue.

Can Your Ex-Spouse Ask for Child Support, Even If You Separation Agreement Says No Child Support Will be Paid?


Unfortunately, while you can opt out of spousal support in an agreement, it is extremely difficult to opt out of child support (the agreement has to benefit the child more than the Child Support Guidelines to opt out of them.) Even then, child support is reviewable every year and can be changed on any change of circumstances. Also, child support is based on where a child lives, not on who has custody. If your child spends more than 40% of her time with your ex-spouse,  you will be liable for child support.  You may also be liable for child support if your child spends close to an equal amount of time with each parent, but you earn more. You may want to take your agreement to a family lawyer to see if it is possible that your agreement says what is necessary to get you of of child support, but unless you are providing for your daughter in a way that provides more for her than the Child Support Guidelines, that is unlikely. For more on child support see this article

Also, note that your ex can also seek child and spousal support from her common law husband (For an example, see this post.)  Note your ex having a new partner does not affect what you pay for child support as the biological father. 

John's Book:

Guide to the Basics of Ontario Famly Law - an easy to understand book to help with separation, divorce, family court, mediation, arbitration and child welfare

An easy-to-understand guide to Ontario Family Law for non-lawyers. Click on the cover above to purchase on Amazon.

Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law Available on Kindle
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Of course, if you have child that is living with you, or both parents, you may be entitled to some support as well - even if that child is over 18 years old. See this article.   If your other child  still shares time between both of you and your wife is, or could, be collecting spousal support from her common-law partner that, combined with her other income, is more that your income, she could owe you some child support. On the plus side, you should be safe from your ex seeking any spousal support from you now because of what the agreement says. For more on spousal support see this post on whether someone can ask for spousal support, and this post on the amount of spousal support.  For more information on all these family law issues, including an entire chapter on changing agreements or orders, and many other family law matters, you should get a copy of this easy-to-understand best-selling book on the basics of Ontario Family Law

Support issues can be tricky.  To make sure the right about of support is being paid in your circumstances, it really is worth it to see an excellent family law lawyer with lots of expertise in tough child support and spousal support cases.  You can contact John Schuman using the form below, or the phone number above. You can also use the form below to comment on this page.  Feel free to share this page on your social network using the buttons at the bottom.



As we do a lot of "uncontested divorces", we have helped many people who want a divorce, but have no idea where their spouse is.  Fortunately, in Ontario Family Courts, there are ways to get a divorce, even if you have lost track of your spouse.

After you start the divorce proceeding, asking for only a divorce, you can bring a motion, without notice, asking for an order that the wife be deemed to be served by sending her a message on facebook, sending court documents to her last known address or similar. That motion can be brought "in writing" using a form 14B and supporting affidavit, so there does not need to be an actual in-person hearing before a judge. You can look at Rule 6(15) of the Family Law Rules ( ).

John's Book:

Guide to the Basics of Ontario Famly Law - an easy to understand book to help with separation, divorce, family court, mediation, arbitration and child welfare

An easy-to-understand guide to Ontario Family Law for non-lawyers. Click on the cover above to purchase on Amazon.

Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law Available on Kindle

However, you may save time and frustration by getting a lawyer to do this for you. The lawyer will likely only charge a little bit more for doing this than he or she usually charges for an uncontested divorce). My firm charges $1500 for uncontested divorces. If you have to wait a few times in line at the court office while you get your paperwork in order, you may find that cost is worth it to avoid frustration. For more about uncontested divorces see this video: . The process for getting a divorce, and other family law matters, are discussed in more detail in this $20 easy-to-understand book on the Basics of Ontario Family Law :

What can I do when my spouse relentlessly pesters me to get more time with the kids?


Be warned!  That pestering may not just be to irritate you.  It may be a set up to get custody of the children! There are certain things you need to do!

In a divorce or separation, the best way to avoid conflict, unwanted communication, arguments and constant changes in the children's schedule is to  have a court order or agreement that sets out where the children are supposed to live at any given time. Then, unless there are problems with the arrangement such that it needs to be changed,  your ex should have nothing to talk to you about.  "Pestering" is not constructive communication and can lead to conflict.  Anyone involved with family law issues will tell you that conflict is what harms the children - not the separation or divorce.  For more on how parents should act after separation, listen to this Divorce Source Radio podcast.


If you do not have a parenting agreement or court order, you should visit a family lawyer or divorce lawyer and get one.  That should eliminate the conflict, and the possibility that this "pestering" is an attempt to set you up to look like a bad guy who will not cooperate with parenting or share the kids.  Your ex may use that as a basis to go back to court to get an order that is more favourable to her the current situation.  For more information about how judges decide what the parenting arrangements should be, check out this webpage or listen to this podcast.


John's Book:

Guide to the Basics of Ontario Famly Law - an easy to understand book to help with separation, divorce, family court, mediation, arbitration and child welfare

An easy-to-understand guide to Ontario Family Law for non-lawyers. Click on the cover above to purchase on Amazon.

If you wife really is pestering you and it is having a negative impact on you and the kids, then it may be  appropriate to get an order that restricts her contract with you and them or a restraining order.  Judges can be really skeptical of people who ask for these orders and may think you are just trying to get some sort of tactical advantage.  So, it is really important that you speak to a lawyer both to get an outside opinion of your circumstances and to make sure your evidence is compelling to a judge.


Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law Available on Kindle

All of these issues are covered in more detail, but still in an easy-to-understand way, in this $20 book on the Basics of Ontario Family Law: . It is likely a good investment for you.

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Should I give my ex a "travel letter" to let her leave the country with the kids whenever she wants?


One parent wanting to leave the country with the kids after separation can cause a lot of stress.  It is not uncommon for parents not to trust each other much after separation.  The parent who is not travelling may start wondering if the other parent intends to leave a never come back.  Fortunately, there are a number of Canadian and International Laws that are designed to stop parents from kidnapping the children by taking them to another country.  Most people have heard of the Hague Convention, which assists in getting court orders to bring the children back.  Note that not all countries have signed the Hague Convention, so if you are really worried, you may want to check out whether the destination country has signed on to that convention or not.  You can check to see if that country has signed the Hague Convention here: .  Those international laws require the parent travelling with the kids to have a letter from the non-travelling parent that says the non travelling parent agrees with the trip (and the kids are not being taken away from the non-travelling parent.)  Custom officials are supposed to ask to see that letter whenever children are non travelling with both parents.

If a parent wants a "blanket travel letter" that allows international travel at any time, that can certainly cause concern about what that parent's intentions may be.   It is understandable that one parent may want to know when the other parent is taking the children out of the country, and knowing where they are going to make sure they are safe.  Getting a travel letter every time, means asking the other parent every time.  That can be inconvenient and uncomfortable.  That is the reason why a parent sometimes asks for a letter allowing them to travel with the children at anywhere at any time.  That request can make the other parent also uncomfortable. The easiest way to avoid arguments may be to refer the other parents to what the Government of Canada says is needed to cross the boarder. This webpage has the letter that the Government of Canada recommends that everyone use when traveling with children: There is even a letter that you can fill out on-line and print out. That letter requires the itinerary of the trip and does not permit a “blanket letter" - especially if you use the PDF version. 

Parents should not be unreasonable about refusing consent for children to travel with the parent.  Most judges think that travel, and experiencing the world, is usually good for kids.  Obviously, there may be exceptions for missing lots of school or going to dangerous places.   However, always saying "no" is not a good idea.  The parent who wants to travel can go to family court and get a court order that allows him or her to travel with the chidden without the other parent's consent.  Then that parent only has to show that court order at the airport or customs office.

Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law Available on Kindle
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There can be a lot more that plays into custody and parenting problems such as this one.  Often these travel problems are only a symptom that there is a lot more that is wrong. To find out more about how to protect your children and yourself in custody, access and parenting issues, you should speak to a good family lawyer, like Certified Specialist, John Schuman. (Contact him using the form below or the number above.)  You may also want to get a copy of this easy-to-understand best-selling book on Ontario Family Law,  because it covers many more custody and access issues (as well as child support and other family law issues) and also explains how some people get into family law trouble, as well as tips to success in your child custody/access case.

If this page has been helpful, please feel free to share it on your social network using the buttons below.   You can comment on this page using the form below. 

Can My In-Laws Take Me To Court to Force Me to Let Them See My KIds?

granddaughter visiting grandfather for access

Grandparents and other extended family can cause a lot of strife, which is usually very bad for the kids. I have done a number of these cases and it is almost always the case that the personality traits that causes the grandparents to go to court over access is the personality traits that caused the custodial parent to worry that contact with the kids was not good in the first place. 

With regard to the question of going to court, the Grandparents do have the right to do that. The Children's Law Reform Act allows any person to apply for custody or access to any child - not just parents. You can also expect to hear from judges that it is very important for children to have a relationship with their extended families as it is fundamental to the children developing their identities. However, not all contact is "good' or "helpful" and the court will look at whether the access is in the child's best interest. To see the factors that the court considers, listen to this podcast: and read this webpage.  

However, in the end, when it comes down to it, the law gives a lot of weight to what the custodial parent wants. As long as the custodial parent is trying to act in the child's best interest, it is up to the custodial parent as to how the children are parenting and who the children see. The exception to this when the children are on your ex's time.  Then it is up to your ex  to decide who the children see when they are with her. If you feel your ex is harming the children, then you should speak to her about the issue, try to involve a parenting professional (social worker or child psychologist) to assist with the issue and if your wife is not cooperative and you feel you need to deny access, then you should go to court to get the court's blessing - otherwise you may be in contempt of court. 

John's Book:

2012 edition book cover

An easy-to-understand guide to Ontario Family Law for non-lawyers. Click on the cover above to purchase on Amazon.

Although this blog addressed grandparents' rights to visit grandchildren when the parents are separated, the law is not much different when the parents are not separated.  In that situation, the court will hear from two custodial parents that there are reasons why the court should not order access.

For more on this issue, you can pick up a copy of this book (click on the book go to Amazon to purchase a copy):

Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law Available on Kindle
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If you need help with dealing with your in-laws, you can contact Certified Specialist in Family Law, Toronto Lawyer, John Schuman by using the contact form below or the phone number at the top of the page.  You can also use that contact form to comment on this article.  If you found this page helpful, please use the buttons below the contact form to share this page on your social network.


Can we save money using one mediator instead of two lawyers through our family law matter?

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Many separated spouses want to save money working out their affairs and getting their divorce.  Some have heard mediation is a way to save money, which it often is.  However, a mediator supplements the parties each having their own lawyers, it does not replace lawyers.  This blog explains why.

Separated spouses need one of two things to formalize the settlement between them: a separation agreement or a court order.  Most separated spouses resolve matters through a separation agreement as going to trial to have a judge resolve the matters is time consuming and both emotionally and financially draining.  The alternatives to court are: negotiation, collaborative practice, mediation or arbitration.  All of these alternatives will result in a separation agreement.

Separated spouses always want their separation agreement to be a deal that lasts forever so they can move on with their lives.  The alternative of repeatedly re-engaging a former spouse is not desirable because it prevents the spouses from becoming independent from each other, which is the point of divorcing.  Certainly, a separated spouse does not enjoy having their former partner drag them through the whole process repeatedly.  These are some of the reasons why courts like to respect separation agreements.

One thing that mediators cannot do is draft separation agreements.  The Solicitors Act says that the only professional that can draft a separation agreement is a lawyer.  Mediators can only write a Memorandum of Understanding, which is not binding.  The separated spouses must turn that Memorandum of Understanding into a separation agreement, which usually means getting lawyers to write up the agreement.  It is difficult to have a separation agreement that will last without having a lawyer put it together.

The Family Law Act sets out circumstances when the court does not have to respect a final separation agreement.  The first of these is that either of the parties did not fully understand the nature and consequences of the separation agreement.  This means not only understanding the terms of the contract, but also each spouse’s legal rights in the circumstances.  Spouses must not only understand what they are getting but also what they are giving up.  As Family Law is fairly complex, the courts have held that to really understand the separation agreement, each party must have had independent legal advice.  That means that each spouse must have met separately with a separate lawyer to have their legal rights and the separation agreement explained to them.  Mediators are also not allowed to give legal advice to one or both spouses because the mediator is working for both sides and cannot keep one spouse’s concerns or interests secret from the other spouse.  Linked to fully understanding the separation agreement is the second requirement that the parties exchange full financial disclosure (For more see this blog).  Lawyers are trained not only in how to exchange financial disclosure but also how to spot “red flags” that suggests that the other spouse is not being entirely forthcoming.  A mediator cannot accuse one spouse of hiding financial information while still keeping the objectivity that is required for mediators.

Finally, the Family Law Act and the cases about enforcing separation agreements say that not only must terms of a contract not violate any of the Law of Contract, which lawyers ensure, but also that the parties must negotiate those terms in “unimpeachable circumstances.”  This means that there cannot be a power imbalance between the spouses and neither spouse must be taking advantage of the other spouse’s situation.  It also means that each spouse has the time to properly consider the agreement before signing.  In addition, during the negotiations the parties must consider all of the factors that the courts expect the parties to consider when negotiating a separation agreement.  From a practical standpoint, ensuring the negotiations of the separation agreement meet the standards requires the help of lawyers.

Both collaborative practice and arbitration require that the spouse’s sign agreements just to use them.  The essential terms of those agreements explicitly require the parties to have lawyers.

Mediation does save a lot of money and heartache for the separating spouses.  It does that by avoiding the long and very expensive court process.  Working out a separation agreement through mediation costs a small fraction of the cost of fighting out the issues in court.  However, to create a lasting separation agreement, the mediation process requires the involvement of lawyers, it does not replace the lawyers.  Generally, the earlier the parties consult with a lawyer to learn their legal rights and obligations, the better the mediation process works (because both parties know what the proper settlement range is), and the more long lasting is the separation agreement.

Book - Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law

You can learn a lot more about the alternatives to court by listening to this podcast.  You can learn even more about those alternatives, and how court works, as well as a lot about many of the family law issues that come with a separation, by picking up a copy of this easy-to-understand best-selling book on Ontario Family Law.

Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law Available on Kindle
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If you would like to discuss your situation in more detail with Certified Specialist in Family Law, Toronto Family Mediator and Arbitrator, John Schuman, please use the form below or the phone number at the top of the page to contact him.  You can also use the form to comment on this page.  If your found this article helpful, please feel free to share it with your social network so that others will understand these matters better.  Use the buttons below the contact form.

Can you lose half your house because you married someone (for a short time)?

Matrimonial Home that a spouse can loose after a short marriage

The short answer is yes.  A lot of people unnecessarily loose a lot of money after a short marriage due to a "quirk" in Ontario law.  However, it is not a hard problem to avoid.  Unfortunately, most people do not take the necessary steps and unnecessarily loose hundreds of thousands of dollars to an ex-spouse.

In Ontario, married spouses do not get an actual legal interest in each other properties. Your house is still 100% yours. He spouse still owns his/her assets. In Ontario, the way property division works, is each spouse shares the value of the growth of his or her net worth with his or her spouse. You take your net worth now, subtract your net worth on the date of marriage and come up with a number. Your spouse does the same thing. Then one spouse makes a cash payment to the other to make the numbers the same. The effect of this is to make the growth of your net worth during the marriage the same. You do not have any right to your spouse's assets, but he or she may have to sell some assets or transfer them to you to make the payment. For more on this see this webpage: 

HOWEVER, and this is very important, if the house you lived in when you separate is the same house as you owned on the date of separation, you get absolutely no credit for bringing it into the marriage. It is as if you bought the house after the date of marriage withe money that you earned after the date of marriage. This essentially means that your spouse is entitled to have of the equity in the house, even if you brought it into the marriage fully paid for. See this video: and so does this podcast. It is only half of the equity (the value of the house minus the mortgage) that your spouse shares with you.

There are a few ways to make the impact less devastating on you.  The best things to do have to be done before or during the marriage.  You can get a marriage contract that gives you credit.  If the marriage contract is done properly, which requires the help of a lawyer, then judges usually think that giving a spouse credit for bringing the house into the marriage is fair.  The other choice is for both you and your spouse to designate one property as the matrimonial home on title.   If both parties sign the marriage contract, then all other matrimonial homes cease to be matrimonial homes.  If the house you brought into the marriage is not the one that is designated as the matrimonial home, you will get full credit for bringing it into the marriage. 

Book - Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law

There may be other things you can do (as discussed on the video and the podcast), but you really do need to speak to a family lawyer. That appointment may save you thousands of dollars. If you want some general information, or you want more of an explanation of these concepts, here is a easy-to-understand best-selling  book on Ontario Family Law that covers them and a whole lot more: .

Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law Available on Kindle
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Are male thongs grounds for divorce?

A blog by John's law clerk, Brooke.

Male Thong - Ground for Divorce?

In Canada, we have what can be effectively termed “no fault” divorce.  This means that a Court does not have to find one spouse or the other is at fault for the breakdown of the marriage.  

Section 8(2) of the Divorce Act lays out the grounds upon which a couple can seek a divorce.  Simply put, you are entitled to a divorce after a separation of one year.  This is the most common ground upon which people in Canada are divorced.  You do not need to establish that one spouse behaved badly in order to secure a divorce on the basis of a one year separation.  

The other two grounds for divorce are much more difficult to rely on:  you can seek a divorce on the grounds that your spouse committed adultery, or treated you with such mental or physical cruelty as to render continued cohabitation intolerable. A divorce on either of these grounds is available less than one year after separation.  However, you must prove these grounds, unless your spouse is willing to admit to this behavior.  For obvious reasons, not many people would admit to treating their spouse so poorly.  

So, are male thongs grounds for divorce?  While you could make a case that wearing such an item of clothing is mental cruelty that makes continued cohabitation intolerable, if this is the “straw that broke the camel’s back” in terms of your relationship, it may be easier to wait out the one year, and seek a divorce on that basis. 

Ontario Family Law Podcast

To learn more about what divorce means, and how to get one, listen to this podcast.

3 - What is a divorce? How do I get one?

As a side note, remember that divorce is the legal end to a marriage.  People who were never married (or never believed that they were married) cannot get a divorce.  Common Law relationships are very different when they break down. For more information about issues related to common law relationships, click here.  


To learn even more about the law of divorce in Canada, you may want to get a copy of this best-selling easy-to-understand book on the basics of Ontario Family Law as a paperback, or as a $9.99 e-book for KindleKobo, or iPad/iPhone/Mac.   You can also use the search on the right to find lots more articles about marriage and divorce.

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Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law Available on Kindle

If you are getting divorced, it is really important to consult a family lawyer - as early as possible to avoid making some critical family law mistakes that could really cost you. Contact Certified Specialist in Family Law (and author of the book to the left), John Schuman, by emailing him, calling 416-446-5869, or using the contact form below.  We answer all inquiries promptly and we can arrange for you to come in quickly for a consultation (charged at a reduced hourly rate).  

Many thousands of people get family law assistance from this website everyday.  If you have found this page useful, please share it on your social network using the Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest buttons at the bottom of the page.

Feel free to comment on this page in comments section below.

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How Do Judges Decide Which Parent Gets Custody of a Child?


When parents cannot agree on how they are going to raise their children after separation,  judges or arbitrators have to decide which parent should have custody.  That is unfortunate because judges usually have a very limited amount of time to spend with the family.  They may not see the children at all, and yet the judge is making critical decisions about the rest of the children’s lives.  It is almost always better for the parents to decide what plan will work best for their children because they know the children and themselves better than a judge will ever likely get to know them.  Arbitrators can sometimes get to know families a little bit better, especially when they act in the role of mediator/arbitrator.  But still, their knowledge of the family will never be as good as that of the parents. 

When deciding which parent should have custody, judges and arbitrators give almost no weight, perhaps no weight at all, to what the parents want.  The law requires that when a judge or arbitrator makes a decision in relation to a child, the only thing that matters is what is in the best interest of the child.  That is often obvious, but sometimes it requires a greater analysis. 

When the court must undertake a full analysis of what is in the best interest of a child, there are certain specific factors that it looks at.  First are the love, affection and emotional ties between the child and each of the people claiming custody to the child, usually the parents, other members of the child’s family who reside with the child, most commonly the child’s siblings, and persons involved in the child’s care and upbringing, such as extended family, friends or maybe even professional caregivers, teachers or healthcare providers. 

Another factor that the judge must consider is the child’s view and preferences, if they can be reasonably ascertained.  This means that the child must be making a clear statement of what he or she wants.  It is not up to the parents to go and try to elicit this from the child.  This child’s opinion must be on that the child developed on his or her own.  For more on what role a child’s views and preferences play in child custody cases, watch this one minute video on the role of children in divorce:

Yet another factor that must be considered is the length of time that the child has spent in a stable home environment.  This can be an important factor in custody and access cases because what the court looks at is where has the child been living, for how long had they been living there, and have things been working out.  So if a child has been living in one place for a period of time, and everything has gone well, the court is reluctant to change things for the child.  The situation in which the child is living is often called the “status quo”.   Judges are very reluctant to change the “status quo” if things have been going on well.  Further, the longer things have been going on well, the more reluctant judges are to change them. 


Judges must also consider the ability of each of the parents to provide for the child.  Judges look at which parent can best provide the basic necessities of life, and also provide education and guidance for the child.  Where a child has special needs and one parent can provide for those special needs better than the other, that is another important factor that the judge takes into account. 

To take into account all of the above considerations, each parent has to put together a plan for how he or she is going to care for the child. Judges, when considering who should have custody, also consider the plans that each parent puts forward.  So when a parent is going before a judge to decide who has custody, he or she should have a plan that addresses all the considerations described above. 

Judges are also required to consider the permanence and stability of the family unit in which it is proposed that the child lives.  So a parent who has a transient lifestyle, or who has a number of partners going in and out of their life, will have a harder time getting custody. 

Judges also care about each parent’s ability to act as a parent generally.  Judges frequently think that someone cannot act as a good parent if that person cannot support the children’s relationship with the other parent.  To find out more about this factor, and how being unsupported of your ex’s parenting can cause you to lose custody, listen to the radio segment below:

Finally, the court is also required to consider the child’s relationship by blood, meaning DNA, or through an adoption order between the child and the people who are applying for custody.  This gives biologic or adoptive parents a slight advantage over other people who are not as closely related to the child. 

Judges are also specifically required to consider the issue of domestic violence.  If a parent has exposed a child to domestic violence, then that parent will have a much harder time getting custody of the child, possibly even getting time with the child. 

Note, that in all these factors the judges and arbitrators are required to consider in custody access cases, what a parent wants is not one of them.  A parent’s schedule, or financial circumstances, or other needs are not factors that the judge must take into account.  All that is important is what is in the child’s best interest.  In court, parents should be focussing on their child’s best interests.  However, often when parents are in family court on custody or access issues, they have not given any thought to their child’s interests at all.

John's podcast photo

7 - Custody of the Children - what it means and how it is decided

17 - Sole Custody, Joint Custody, Shared Custody- How do Judges Decide?

To hear more about how judges decide child custody cases, you may want to listen to this podcast.  It also explains what the term custody actually means.  The legal meaning for “child custody” is quite different than some people think, so you may want to hear about that to decide what is really important in your relationship with the children. Once you listen to that podcast, for an even more in-depth discussion of parenting choices after separation, listen to this podcast.  That second podcast goes more in-depth into the differences between sole custody, joint custody, split custody, shared parenting and parallel parenting.  It includes a discussion of the written laws and court decisions that set out the factors judges use to determine which type of child custody situation will be best.

Also, judges do not care what people say about the above issues, they care about what people can prove about the children and the children's needs - and who is the best parents.  You need evidence to prove your case.  If you can't prove what you think, what you think does not matter.  Watch this video about proving your case in family court.

In addition, the case may just be about who gets custody, but what type of custody.  To understand the different types of custody orders, and when they are appropriate, watch the following video:


Also, check out this page for information and tips regarding children in separation and divorce.

If you and your spouse are working out the parenting of your children after separation, without going to court, then you are probably coming up with a better plan for your kids that a judge could figure out with limited knowledge of your family and you are likely really helping you kids by keeping them away from the conflict that is associated with Family Court.  Still, if you want your “parenting plan” to stand up of time, then you need to follow the rules for creating legal and enforceable separation agreements, which you can find out about by listening to this podcast, or watching this video, or reading the excellent book on Ontario Family Law, described below.

Book - Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law

For more information on the law as it relates to child custody, the family court process, and the alternatives to family court, get a copy of this easy-to-understand book on Ontario Family Law. The paperback version is available from Amazon and the $9.99 ebook is available for Kindle, Kobo, and from iTunes for iPad, IPhone and Mac. It also includes several tips on how to get the best possible result for you and your kids. 

Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law Available on Kindle
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However, the best way to protect your kids, and your relationship with them, is to see a good family lawyer who has lot of experience in child custody and access cases.  Certified Specialist in Family Law, John Schuman, is known for his concern for children in separation and divorce and has won many child custody cases.  To contact John, call 416-446-5869, email him, or fill out the form below. You can use the same form to comment on this page. 


Paperback available from:


Thousands of people have found this page useful and have shared in on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest or Tweeted about it. To share this page with those around you, please use the buttons at the bottom of the page.  It may help make sure that a parent gives the judge the right information to get the best Court Order for the Child.

You can add your comments on this page using the comments section at the very bottom.


Scott D:

Thanks for this page! It gives me a better understanding of the courts and what they are looking for! I've been frustrated for 2 years now and only seeing my son for 4 days a months has taken it's toll on me! I have a good (not great)lawyer now and I've given him lots of ammunition to fight for me. I pray that I get a judge who sees the big picture! Once again, Thanks!

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW:

I wonder if parents appreciate though that the judge often relies upon information provided by parents either directly or indirectly through assessments/evaluations. In view of that, parents who seek redress through court are apt to trash each other to then position them self as the more deserving or better parent. This is tragic for the child who must live through the carnage and aftermath. Perhaps we need to do more to inform parents of the harm imposed through the court process to more encourage participation and utilization of services such as Collaborative Practice and Mediation.

Hazel Wright, Partner, Family law, Hunters Solicitors :

In England, we have the Children Act 1989, and under it, when a court has to make Child Arrangements (under the Child Arrangements Programme which has now replaced the language of custody, visitation, residence and contact). The judge has to apply the :The Welfare Checklist - section 1. Among the things the court must consider are:

a) The ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in light of his age and understanding);

b) His physical, emotional and/or educational needs;

c) The likely effect on him of any change in his circumstances;

d) His age, sex, background and any characteristics of his, which the court considers relevant;

e) Any harm which he has suffered or is at risk of suffering;

f) How capable each of his parents and any other person in relation to whom the court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting his needs;

g) The range of powers available to the court under the Children Act 1989 in the proceedings in question.

© John P. Schuman and John P. Schuman, Professional Corporation - 2012-2021