single parent information in ontario family law

Misconception of Sole Custody

First, it is important to have a clear understanding of what exactly sole and joint custody is. Custody does not mean the physical care, or the amount of time spent with the child but rather how decisions are being made and who can make them. Sole custody allows one parent the exclusive decision-making authority regarding the major decisions, such as education, health, special and extracurricular activities and religion. Joint custody on the other hand, allows both parents to make important and major decisions about the child together.

There are definitely a few misconceptions regarding sole custody. A common misconception is regarding access to information. A custodial parent must provide information regarding the child to the access parent. The access parent has the legal right to information about the child such as educators or health care professionals even though they do not have the right to provide instructions or make major decisions about the child.

Another misconception is regarding mobility and the right to move a child’s residence. A custodial parent cannot relocate or travel with the child without obtaining the consent of the access parent, especially if the move will impact the access parent’s scheduled parenting time with the child. The access parent may not have the legal right to make major decisions regarding the child, but they do have a right to know where the child is residing.

Consent also extends to the enrollment of the child in activities. The custodial parent must obtain the access parent’s consent if the scheduled activity interferes with the access parent’s time or if they would be required to contribute financially.  Sole custody does not eliminate consent in this regard.

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