When a couple gets separated or divorced the issue regarding child custody and support is top of mind. The courts will handle this as a part of the family law proceedings. So when a couple is in the course of this separation, typically both parents want to have maximum time with their children. Depending on work schedules, et cetera, arrangements need to be made.
The courts generally want to encourage maximum parenting time with each parent. But it has to be in the best interests of the children. The parents’ ability to get along, one with the other, may be a factor. Sometimes separations can become caustic. This should be avoided and psychologically is highly detrimental to children, particularly children of tender years. Courts do not like it. But sometimes it is an unavoidable reality that the parents have separated under disagreeable circumstances.
In any event, whatever parenting time agreement, access and visitation with the children, between the parents is going to agreed upon, or ordered in the absence of agreement, have to be approved by the Calgary family courts. Any agreement has to be in the best interests of the children. The court will look at the facts and make whatever order the court thinks is best for the children.
In some cases, the parents do not want the other parent to see the child at all. Maybe one parent is abusive, that can be verbal abuse as well as physical abuse. In some cases, it may be that the police should be involved. Where one parent does not want the other parent to even see the child, this is a tough situation and it does arise. The Merchant Law Calgary family law team handles cases on both sides where a parent either is being refused access or parenting time or where a parent is refusing the access. We are on your side, that is to say we are on the side of our client. If there are reasons why access should be limited, or there should be no access at all, we can fight that case for you. Conversely, if you are being refused access or being limited inappropriately to seeing your children, we are on your side. We are always on the side of our clients and we argue these cases for our clients on both sides of the debate. You can count on our lawyers to advance your interests to the best of our capacity and ethical standards.
These cases are totally fact driven. Sometimes we get evidence from psychologists. If there are issues of drugs, alcohol, anger management, all of these things can come into play. Neglect, abuse, past behaviours. Speak to a Calgary Family Law Lawyer about your case to help you navigate through the legal minefield. Outcomes depend on the facts and evidence that the lawyer puts forth. And a good lawyer is going to not just regurgitate the evidence that you provide him or her, but rather will be active in obtaining the best evidence for the argument you wish to make, having regard to the highest professional and ethical standards as is required of any Calgary Family Lawyer.
If all your lawyer is going to do is regurgitate the facts that you have said, without anything further, you may as well be unrepresented! A good lawyer is going to be active in gathering evidence to support the position you wish to advance. And the courts, as a general rule, will encourage maximum contact with both parents if that is in the best interests of the children, which, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, ought, rationally speaking, to be the case. Children benefit from contact with both parents in the absence of some evidence that that is not being of benefit to the children, such as abuse, neglect, alcohol and drugs, et cetera.
The Calgary family law courts will settle issues as to parental visitation and parenting time. The standard test is “what is in the best interest of the child?”. The courts look at the physical, emotional, and fundamental development of the child, especially in situations where there is disagreement between the parents. The court will look at the reasons for the disagreement. Your lawyer’s job is to advocate your side and have the court see the facts your way. In order to do so, your Calgary Family Lawyer has to put in sufficient and appropriate evidence before the Court.
Alberta family law courts also look at various factors such as each parent’s emotional ties with the child and the child’s emotional ties with the parents. Can the parent provide the children with a safe, stable, and nurturing home environment? Can the parent support the children financially? Is one parent providing a better circumstance with more opportunity for growth for the children? We are speaking about intellectual, spiritual, emotional, or artistic growth; activities such as the arts, sports, things that the children like to do; time with other siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, and extended family. All of these things may be relevant. The lawyer’s job is to paint a picture for the courts where you are providing the best circumstance for the nurture and growth of the child and anything and everything may be relevant. Things that you may not think are relevant, your lawyer will extricate and put into evidence after a lengthy questioning to elucidate the best evidence which is something that you organize with your lawyer patiently through communication once you have hired an appropriate Calgary Family Lawyer whom you trust to get the job done for you.
The children desire to spend time with one or other of the parents is also a relevant consideration for the court. But it is not determinative. Maximum parental visitation or parenting time will be encouraged by the courts. The child’s education is also important and the courts will not disrupt the child’s schedule for schooling or other education, extracurricular activities such as sports, the arts, et cetera.
When do I Need to Hire a Calgary Family Law Lawyer?
Sometimes parents cooperate and make arrangements between themselves which are great for the children and cover off their best interests. However, in all too many cases, especially when we are dealing with the hurt feelings and emotional issues which understandably may come from the breakdown of a formerly loving relationship which now the love is gone, one or both parties may be hurt and upset and unable to deal rationally and objectively with the issue of children. One or other of the parties may even use the children as a weapon in the disputes.
This could happen in all sorts of legal cases where one or other of the parties is not really thinking logically any longer and is just weaponizing everything in the court battle. This is where a dispassionate and competent, experienced lawyer will really serve you best. And in family law cases it is amplified because of the prior emotional bond between the spouses that is broken so that so often one or other of the spouses is almost at the point of going crazy, particularly when the marriage or relationship first breaks down and immediately following separation.
But this is exactly when the issues of child parenting time, access and visitation, need to be addressed, and it is at the same moment when the spouses are least likely to be thinking rationally and are most upset about the divorce or separation.
If this sounds familiar, it is time to get a lawyer. Furthermore, even if you are thinking rationally and logically, if you are not getting a fair hearing and are not getting a fair hand dealt to you, it is time to get a lawyer. You may want to limit the access of the other spouse to your children or you might not be getting sufficient access and parenting time, in either scenario, the best thing is to get some legal advice. Hire a lawyer whom you trust to do a good job for you. It is a good idea to speak to more than one lawyer in Calgary and hire the best family law lawyer for you. There are many to choose from. There are many who are very good. It is such an important decision that it makes sense to speak to more than one and find the one in whom you feel the most confidence.
How to Get More Parenting Time/How to Limit Parenting Time?
When we are dealing with a separation situation, the parenting time with the children is an issue which needs to be immediately addressed. Indeed, it is so critical because the initial parenting time structure is likely to become the permanent parenting time structure. The court may be approached to make an interim order, but that first interim order is going to guide the courts going forward and it is so critical to get the desirable outcome in the first instance because that is likely to remain and become permanent.
The court is concerned with the best interests of the children so the evidence that your Calgary Family Lawyer puts before the court needs to paint the picture for the court that you want to convey. Your Calgary Family Lawyer needs to advocate on your behalf to show that your position is demonstrably the best for the children.
You may want more visitation time, more access, more parenting time. You may be getting denied parenting time by your former spouse. We need to show that this is unfair. But this is not to show that it is unfair to you, but rather that it is unfair to the children. Every psychologist says that the children will benefit from seeing both their parents. Separation and divorce is already detrimental to a child. The child should see both parents as much as possible. The other spouse has to have a reason to deny parenting time. If there is evidence of abuse, neglect, et cetera, that evidence needs to be refuted if you are the party seeking more parenting time.
Conversely, when we have a client who wishes to limit the parenting time of the other spouse, then the evidence that needs to be put in is exactly the evidence of abuse, neglect, bad parenting, anger management issues, drugs and alcohol, or what have you. Maybe one parent is just emotionally unstable or absent mentally. Spending time with the child but not nurturing or fostering their emotional and intellectual growth, can all be a factor.
Parenting time is not a given right for either spouse. The court looks at it from the child’s perspective and says “what is in the best interests of the child?”. So there is no limit to the evidence which may be relevant and it is your advocate’s job to put the best evidence forward to prove whatever fact situation you are trying to impart upon the court to see it in that light and make the appropriate order in the best interest of the children. There has to be a good reason why a parent should be denied access and parenting time. But there also must be a good reason why a parent should be awarded access and parenting time. These cases are all driven by the facts and the evidence put forward by the family law lawyers.
Finding yourself in the middle of a family law problem can be stressful and emotional. You may need legal support in these trying times. It is a good idea to get the advice and assistance of an experienced Calgary Family Law Lawyer.
Family law, separation, and divorce matters can involve a great variety of circumstances and issues. Speak to your lawyer about anything on your mind. But your lawyer will also guide you with considerations you may not have even considered. Experience in family law makes your lawyer more valuable to you. Your lawyer may have seen hundreds of divorce cases and will retain that experience and make it work for you. You have gone through maybe one separation, your lawyer may have seen dozens and will retain that knowledge and make it serve you.
On the other hand, you may just be entering into a new relationship and you may wish to speak to a lawyer about the ways to protect your income and assets or limit your responsibility with respect to the debts of your partner. We can help.
You may have been involved in a common-law relationship or have been married and are going through a separation. We can help.
You may have children from a prior relationship. You may be about to have children with someone and need legal advice. Whatever your circumstance is, contacting a Calgary Family Law Lawyer can be a valuable tool and can help you navigate the legal system and to figure out your legal options.
Merchant Law has offices throughout western Canada and is strong in family law. There are many other law firms which are equally strong and experienced. We can help.
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