Nova Scotia Child Custody Lawyers
There are many complex challenges to navigate during a separation between married couples and common-law partners. One of the key subjects that have to be faced when separating is determining parental custody over children. A Nova Scotia child custody lawyer can help you negotiate your parental custody agreement, parenting access and visitation plans.
At Kimball Law, we are here to help parents (both mothers and fathers) in determining child custody and access arrangements. Services we provide in this field of family law matters include:
- Custody agreements
- Parenting plans
- Visitation schedules
Beyond the division of assets and property and other numbers that can be put on paper exist essential family matters that need to be resolved when a couple separates. Our Nova Scotia family lawyers are here to help you navigate this complicated process to get the most time with your children and support the role of parenting their lives and development. Call (902) 542-5757 to book a consultation.
How Does Custody Work in Nova Scotia?
Custody is often used as a general term that describes where the children will live, who makes decisions and when about the child’s upbringing, development and who has responsibility for the child’s care.
In Nova Scotia, child custody and parenting arrangements are governed by the federal Divorce Act or the provincial Parenting and Support Act. These pieces of legislation set out the rights and obligations of children and parents, the power of the Courts to intervene in matters of child custody, and the factors to be considered by the Court when doing so.
In most cases, a child has a right to have a relationship and spend time with both parents, provided it is in their best interest to do so, and no parent can deny access to another parent without the permission of the Court. When it comes to how much time each parent will spend with a child, custody arrangements can take many different forms. In such cases, a Nova Scotia family lawyer may be needed to help determine which arrangement works best for you.
At what age can a child decide which parent to live with in Nova Scotia?
In Nova Scotia, there is no official age at which a child gets to decide what parent to live with. However, the older and mature children are, the more likely the Court is to take their wishes under consideration. Parents can present certain documents that set out the child’s preferences on parenting agreements.
When parents want the Court to know their children’s wishes, a Voice of the Child Report or Children’s Wishes Assessment may be conducted to provide the Court with an understanding of the child’s preferences. These documents only report the child’s views and wishes in relation to parenting agreements and the Court may ignore them if such preferences are not in the child’s best interests.
Types of Child Custody in Nova Scotia
A custody or parenting order can take many forms, and there is no “one size fits all” approach to child custody in Nova Scotia. In any case before the court, a judge will focus solely on the best interests of the child.
Section 16(3) of the Divorce Act provides a list of factors the court should consider in making its decision, but all factors may not apply to all cases, and other factors not listed may also be considered.
A few of the factors that may be considered when determining the best interests of a child include, but are not limited to:
- The relationship between the child and the parents
- The history of care for the child
- Any history of family violence
- The child’s expressed preferences
- The ability of each parent to care for the child.
Some of the more common arrangements for custody and parenting are as follows:
Shared parenting or shared custody in Nova Scotia exists when a child is with each parent for at least 40% of the time. For example, a child may have a “week on/ week off” schedule, in which they move between households once a week, or else they may move between households more frequently, on a 3-4-4-3 schedule or any other schedule that works for the child and the parents.
An example of a 3-4-4-3 schedule would be: Mom has the children 3 days and Dad has the children 4 days. On week 2, Mom has the children 4 days and Dad has the children 3 days. In essence, they flip the days during week 1 and 2.
Shared parenting is often confused with joint custody, which is discussed below. Shared parenting refers to the amount of time spent with each parent, while joint custody refers to decision making responsibility.
In Nova Scotia, joint custody refers to joint decision-making responsibility, and is very common, even in situations where there is not shared parenting. Under a joint custody order, both parents are involved in making any major developmental decisions for a child, including decisions about education, medical treatment, religion and culture.
If a parent has sole custody, this means they are responsible for making all of the major developmental decisions for a child. The court in Nova Scotia will generally make sole custody orders where they are not satisfied that the other parent will act in a child’s best interests, or when it is evident that the parents will not be able to work together, for whatever reason, in making these decisions. Often, an order for sole custody (also called sole decision-making responsibility) will include a requirement to keep the other parent informed.
Sole custody is not the same thing as primary care. Primary care refers to the child living with one parent for the majority (60% or more) of the time.
Primary care is when the children live with one parent primarily (more than 60% of the time). Unless otherwise ordered, when one parent has primary care, both parents continue to make joint decisions about issues like the children’s education, health care and religious upbringing (if applicable). However, day-to-day decisions are made by the primary care or custodial parent.
Child Custody in Nova Scotia & Covid-19
The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic caused a great deal of confusion for parents, as well as for Nova Scotia family lawyers and courts. By now, it is clear that in most circumstances, the pandemic is not an excuse to stop following a court order involving custody, or to deny parenting time. However, it is important for parents to work together to figure out how they can mitigate risks for their child, while encouraging a strong relationship with both parents.
If you and your child’s other parent disagree on the appropriate measures to take in the face of Covid-19, including disagreements about non-essential travel or socializing, vaccinations, or extra precautions to be taken if a child or parent is immunocompromised, a family lawyer can provide you with guidance on the current state of the law, and help you do what is best for your child.
Do I Need a Child Custody Lawyer
Not all matters involving child custody will require you to go to court, or to retain the ongoing services of a lawyer. However, even in the simplest cases, booking a consultation with a lawyer experienced in child custody matters can provide you with insights and advice that will help you determine your next steps.
If you are in a disagreement with your child’s other parent about custody matters, hiring a family lawyer has many benefits, including:
- Explaining the Canadian and Nova Scotian laws that apply to your situation, and how they will impact your matter;
- Advise you on, and assist you with, alternatives to litigation, to avoid a lengthy and potentially expensive court battle;
- Should your matter proceed to court, a family lawyer can help you navigate the Nova Scotia justice system, prepare documents, and make submissions in court to give you the best chance of getting the result you are hoping for, and the one that is best for your child.
Speak to Our Family Lawyers in Halifax
Kimball Law has over 40 years of experience helping Nova Scotians with their particular family legal issues with a personalized approach. Our team of experienced family lawyers will help you not only pilot through the family law system, but empower you with legal advice and help you identify what types of custody might be appropriate for your particular situation and keeping the best interests of your children in mind.
We understand the many issues that may occur through your family matter case and how they may impact your custody agreements. Our top priority is representing our clients and their interests regarding their family law matters. To learn more about child custody agreements and how we can help, call us at (902) 542-5757 to book a consultation with one of our Nova Scotia family lawyers.