Reasons to Withhold Visitation in San Bernardino Child Custody

Child Custody Law in Alberta

You should not ignore the wishes of your child when you and the other parent are working out custody. Your child’s feelings and opinions about which parent to live with are valid and worthy of recognition. Although a young person’s stated desire to live with only one parent does not override other concerns, a child benefits psychologically from being heard. Your child custody lawyer in Edmonton can advise you about how to communicate this information to each other or in court.

At What Age Can a Child in Alberta Decide Which Parent to Live With?

The law does not codify a specific age when a child can decide which parent to live in Alberta. Generally, children’s wishes have more influence once they reach the ages of 12, 13, or 14. Even so, this is not to say that a younger child’s preference would not have any influence.

The maturity level of the child matters in terms of how much weight parents or a court may give to the child’s preference. You may obtain an evaluation by an independent professional about a child’s maturity. Similarly, a court may pursue evaluations of this nature when considering child custody matters.

How Can I Talk to My Child About Custody?

When separating from your spouse or partner, your instinct as a parent will be to shield your child from difficult discussions about separation or divorce. You are correct to avoid involving your child in all of the details, but the child will certainly have concerns about living arrangements. You should gently broach the subject with the child and be attentive to what the child shares.

Parents have the option of coming to terms on their own regarding custody without going to court. Most parents start out this way and only leave the decision in a court’s hands when they cannot agree.

If possible, you and the other parent should speak with your child together. You could explain what custody arrangement you have in mind and then gauge your child’s reaction to it.

In some situations, it may be preferable to have a psychologist or social worker discuss the topic with a child. This gives the child an opportunity to express an opinion without fear of hurting a parent’s feelings face to face.

If a child custody dispute goes before an Alberta Court of Justice, the judge has some options for bringing the child’s point of view into the process. The court may:

  • Review a report from a qualified third party on the subject of which parent the child wants to live with.
  • Listen to an Edmonton child custody lawyer assigned to represent the child.
  • Have the judge interview the child.

In this way, the judge gets a clearer view of the child’s preference, which may or may not outweigh other factors related to the best interests of the child.

Will a Court Decide Custody Based on a Child’s Preference?

The family court system will not decide which parent a child lives with solely on the preference given by the child. The Alberta legal system makes custody decisions according to the best interests of the child. This is a complex standard that considers a young person’s well-being and the importance of parent-child relationships.

What Are the Best Interests of the Child in Alberta?

The Alberta Family Law Act aims to place children in safe, stable homes where their physical and emotional needs will be met. Typically, this results in a child dividing time between two parental households due to the importance of encouraging close relationships with both parents.

However, a court may decide that a child’s best interests are upheld by living with only one parent when:

  • The child lacks a relationship with one parent.
  • One parent has a history of family violence.
  • One parent struggles with a mental illness that undermines parenting abilities.
  • One parent struggles with addiction.
  • One parent has a previous criminal history or current criminal charges.

Can a Child Give Testimony in Family Court?

Family courts strongly prefer to never place children in the position of giving testimony in open court. Psychologists view this as too damaging to a child due to the potential need to give negative statements about one or both parents.

Because the input of a child has value, a court is likely to appoint a lawyer for the child. The lawyer will then interview the child privately and present the information in court. Alternatively, a court may assign an independent professional to assess the child’s maturity and opinion about where to live.

In very contentious child custody disputes, a court may require a Practice Note 8 Parenting Assessment. This is an extensive investigation that goes beyond what a child says. It collects information from parents and other third parties.

Can I Change Child Custody in Alberta?

Even if you establish a workable custody arrangement, a family’s needs may change as the years go by. A maturing child may want to know when a child can decide which parent to live in Alberta.

Whether driven by a child’s desire or other circumstances, like a change in employment, you have the option of modifying child custody. If both parents are in agreement, you can fill out the forms for a family court’s approval. If you are not in agreement, you may need to use mediation or have a child custody lawyer in Edmonton aid you with negotiation efforts.

An Edmonton Child Custody Lawyer Who Can Help Settle Disputes

At Kolinsky Law, we provide the support that you need to navigate the intensely emotional issues that accompany child custody. Let us look for efficient legal solutions that limit the chance of lengthy court battles.

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