4. Go to court
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CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario / Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario)
Ministry of the Attorney General
Department of Justice
Who will my child live with?
4. Go to court
If you and your partner still cannot agree on living arrangements for your child even with the help of a family law professional, or if this is not the right option for you, one of you will have to start a family law court case.
Going to court can be a complicated process and it can take a lot of time. It can be stressful and expensive, but it is sometimes necessary to decide your issues. This family law court process flowchart explains each step in a family law court case.
A judge looks at the facts of your situation and the best interests of the child test to make decisions about custody, access, and parenting. Judges usually assume it’s better for a child to have a relationship with both parents after they separate or divorce.
Some of the things a judge looks at are:
- the relationship between each parent and the child
- the emotional ties between each parent and the child
- how long the child has lived in a stable environment
- each parent's plan for the child's care and upbringing
- each parent's ability to care for the child
- in some cases, the child's views and wishes
- if there has been abuse against any family member or any child
The judge also wants to know:
- how old your child is
- where your child goes to school or daycare
- what your physical living space is like
- how close you and your partner live to each other
- your work hours
- who can care for your child when you are at work
- whether anyone else lives with you
- whether your child has any special needs
You can talk to a lawyer who can help you understand your rights and responsibilities toward your children, and help you through the process.
If you can't afford to hire a lawyer for your whole case, some lawyers provide "unbundled" or "limited scope" services. This means you pay them to help you with part of your case.
If you can't afford to hire a lawyer at all, you may be able to find legal help in other places.
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Reviewed: July 15, 2019