While it is true that spending time with both parents best serves a child’s interests, that does not mean courts in Ontario always award equal parenting time and decision-making responsibilities to both parents. If you do not have primary parenting time with your child, your right to see them and spend time with them may instead take the form of visitation rights, which can be tricky to understand and enforce in certain situations.
Whether you want to enforce an existing parenting time order or pursue rights you do not currently have, help from an Ottawa visitation lawyer could greatly improve your chances of achieving a positive case result. Visitation rights can sometimes be contentious and legally complex, but a knowledgeable parenting time lawyer stands ready to advocate for your and your child’s interests.
The provincial laws that govern visitation rights vary depending on the relationship that two parents had prior to separating. The Divorce Act applies in situations where a child’s parents either divorced or are legally married but pursuing a divorce. The Children’s Law Reform Act, on the other hand, applies to cases where a child’s parents are legally married but separated, living together as a common-law couple, or were never married and are currently not cohabitating after having had a child together.
In both scenarios, visitation is referred to in the context of parenting time, which is the term used to describe a parent’s legal right to spend time with their child and/or care for them on a daily or regular basis. If one parent is granted primary parenting time, the other parent will typically be granted visitation rights with the child, either according to a set schedule or on specific occasions.
Ottawa family courts generally place greater importance on younger children—especially those under the age of five—having frequent short visits with their non-custodial parent on a regular basis compared to older children. However, any history of criminal misconduct, drug or alcohol abuse, or any other behaviour which might negatively impact a child’s wellbeing may prompt a court to reduce the amount of parenting time one parent has, impose restrictions on their parenting time, or in extreme cases, deny them visitation rights altogether. A visitation rights lawyer in Ottawa could discuss how certain circumstances may impact child visitation orders in more detail.
Court orders addressing visitation remain in effect until they expire upon the child reaching a certain age or becoming emancipated. That being said, Ottawa courts can and do alter the terms of such agreements, often in response to petitions filed by one or both parents, if they determine that circumstances have changed so much that the old order no longer serves the child’s best interests.
In rare situations, a parent may receive additional visitation time in response to the primary custodial parent refusing to abide by the existing agreement’s terms and/or trying to alienate their child from their other parent. A lawyer serving the Ottawa area could discuss your options for changing or enforcing visitation rights in your case.
Spending time with your child through a court order can be a high-stakes and legally complex endeavor, especially if you and your child’s other parent do not agree on an appropriate division of parenting time. Even if you both want the same order put into place, convincing a court to accept your proposal may require a compelling documentary and testimonial evidence.
Put simply, assistance from an Ottawa visitation lawyer could be crucial no matter what your goals are for a legal proceeding of this nature. Call at any time, 24 hours a day, to schedule a meeting and learn more.
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