If you are in a shared custody situation with your ex-spouse but aren’t quite sure how to navigate this new chapter in your life, read on – we are here to help!
SO, WHAT’S THE REAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SOLE AND SHARED CUSTODY?
In Quebec, shared custody is when a child spends between 40% and 60% of the time with each parent, that is, between 146 and 219 days each year. Today, if both parents are capable and if it is in the best interest of the child, the courts tend to favor shared custody arrangements.
For shared custody to be in the best interest of the child, both parents must be able to give the child the stability he/she needs to develop properly, they must be able to take care of the child, communicate with each other without arguing, and live close enough to one another.
In a shared custody, both parents are involved in raising and rearing the child as the child spends a significant amount of time with both parents. Both parents have the parental authority to make decisions for the child about health, education religion, and upbringing.
It is essential that parents in shared custody make a conscious effort to co-parent their children. Parents must be able to cooperate and communicate with each other in order to make joint decisions about the care of the child. Parents should not criticize the other parent in front of their child and should take a genuine interest in the time spent with the other parent. Parents can ask how their children enjoyed their time with the other parent and be encouraging, saying things like “that sounds great, I’m so glad you had fun with mom/dad”. Do not be jealous or judgmental of the time spent with the other parent in front of your child.
In a shared custody, when the child is with one parent, that parent can make decisions alone about routine things that the child is doing. For example, what the child eats, what time they eat, when they go to the movies, what they do in their free time. However, the other parent has the right to object to these decisions if they put the children’s health, safety or development in danger. Important decisions must be made with the other parent. (https://educaloi.qc.ca/en/capsules/rights-of-parents-with-custody/ )
Another issue we see a lot at our firm is the relocation of one parent. In shared custody a parent does not need the permission to move houses with the child as long as they still live relatively close to the other parent not to hinder exercising custody. However, if the move affects the other parent’s visitation rights/complicates the schedule then that parent can object the move and petition the court.
Parents in shared custody have the right to start seeing someone new. Parents should sit down with your children and have an open conversation about a new change in their life and should remind their children that this new person will not replace their other parent.
(see our blog post on stepparents: https://www.spuntcarin.com/blog/6-helpful-tips-to-being-a-successful-stepparents/ ).
Parents in shared custody must respect the court’s decision with respect to schedule and child support. They must try their best to be on time for exchanges of their children and if this becomes a problem, they should communicate with the other parent. However, you need to be flexible and work together, for example, if one parent has a work trip out of town and needs to modify the usual schedule for one week.
Children are more perceptive than parents often realize and if their parents are being respectful towards one another and are properly co-parenting and communicating, children will feel more at ease and will adapt to a separation or divorce in a much healthier way.
Do not hesitate to contact us with questions or concerns!