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Overview of the Child’s Best Interests in Ontario Family Law


If you are a parent involved in a divorce, separation, or other legal matter impacting your child, you may already be familiar with the best interests of the child standard. The concept comes from the Canada Divorce Act as opposed to Ontario or provincial laws, and it is applied whenever a court decides child custody or enters other parenting orders. The child’s best interests generally refers to the child’s physical safety, emotional needs, and well-being. To guide judges, the law includes a set of 11 specific statutory factors to review when assessing child custody.

Because it plays such a central role in any legal proceedings involving a child, parents should become familiar with the best interests standard. A Mississauga child custody lawyer will explain the details and how they function in your case, and you can count on support with your court case. Still, an overview of the child’s best interests in Ontario is useful.

Factors for the Child’s Best Interests: The 11 items listed in the statute address the parent-child relationship, history, conduct, and other topics. As a summary, the judge will review:

  • The child’s needs, based upon age and development level;
  • The nature of the relationship with each parent, siblings, grandparents, and other relatives who are involved with the child’s life;
  • History of the parents caring for the child;
  • Each parent’s plans for child care, which they can submit to the court in a parenting plan;
  • How well a parent can support the child’s relationship with the other parent;
  • The child’s wishes, when appropriate based upon age and other circumstances;
  • Whether parents can communicate and cooperate on matters affecting the child; and,
  • A history of family violence or court cases that affect the well-being of the child.

Impacts on Child Custody: These factors are involved with any family law cases involving children, but you should understand the specific effects for child custody. For instance, the child’s best interests will be part of initial determinations on allocation of parental decision-making, and parenting time. The court will also review these factors when a parent seeks to make modifications or relocate with the child.

 Agreements on Child Custody: The child’s best interests are only applied when there are disputes between the parents, and the court must make decisions on child custody. However, the parties are encouraged to agree on a parenting plan. If they can reach a compromise on child custody, the parents will not need to go to court and prove why each is more suited to meet the child’s best interests. You will also not deal with the uncertainty and risk that come with a contested hearing.

Discuss Solutions with a Mississauga, ON Child Custody Lawyer

While the child’s best interests are always a primary consideration, it is reassuring to know that you still have options to agree on child custody. To learn more about your rights as a parent, please contact Zagazeta Garcia Lawyers LLP to set up a free consultation. Individuals in the Peel Region can call 905-232-0398 or go online to reach our offices in Mississauga, ON.



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