Child Custody and the Stability of the Family Unit

May 28th, 2015 by John Schuman

Toronto area family law expert John Schuman was recently asked the following question: “My partner recently separated from her husband 2 years ago. We dated for 6 months and then I moved in for 1 year. She is saying that if I leave there is a chance the ex-husband can get primary custody of the children stating he provides the stability. Is this true? I am not sure I can live with her losing her kids!

There are specific factors that judges must consider when deciding custody cases.  You can read about them here.  One of the factors is the “stability of the family unit in which the child is to live.”  Where a parent has multiple partners, or is always changing partners, or has a “transient lifestyle” – meaning that the parent changes homes frequently – that can have an impact on whether a judge decides to change custody.  However, as you can see from that page, there are several other factors that the judge considers as well.   The decision is based on what is overall in the best interest of the child.  The strength of the connection with each parent, and the stability for the child in NOT changing homes are also factors the judge will consider.  Generally, if the children are doing well in a home, and have been there for some time, judges are reluctant to move things around in case it makes things worse.  But, a LOT depends on the particular factors of the case, so your partner should see a good family law lawyer to get answers that are specific to her case.

One thing you should be consider, is whether you will have a child support obligation to your ex-partners kids.  To learn about that, listen to this podcast. You may want to speak to a family law lawyer as well.

Lots of people make avoidable family law mistakes because they do not know enough about how family law impacts their lives. You can get a lot more information about Ontario Family Law issues, including a further explanation of family court process by downloading this $9.99 e-book for Kindle, Kobo, or iPad/iPhone/Mac or ordering the paperback version.  But, to keep out of trouble, it is always best to speak with a good family law lawyer.


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