Child Custody

How To Prepare for a Child Custody Hearing

Going to your first child custody hearing can be scary, especially for parents who are unfamiliar with the child custody process. Nevertheless, with just a little planning in advance, you can present a convincing case and win child custody. In addition to working closely with your child custody lawyer, use the following resources to prepare for your custody hearing.

Sad girl hearing her parents arguing in a kitchen

1. Know the Law

Child custody laws vary from province to province. Therefore, one of the first things you should do is become familiar with the child custody laws in the governing jurisdiction the child resigns. Reading the fine print can be tedious, but it will help you to find out for yourself what you’re up against before attending your child custody hearing. Reading up on the latest laws can also help you prepare a list of questions to ask your lawyer as your court date approaches.

2. Understand What It Means to Be The Better Parent, and The Best Interest of The Child

Being the better parent is not a competition but rather a standard that comes in to play when a parent is requesting for sole custody. Essentially, the onus is on you to convince the judge that you are better than your spouse, or the mother. To best prepare for your child custody hearing, be sure to look at what the court’s are often looking for and consult with your lawyer about how to show yourself to be the best caregiver for your children.

3. Bring All The Necessary Document To Court

Work with your lawyer to determine what documents to bring to your child custody hearing and whether your own personal records will be admissible. Your lawyer will suggest you bring in anything that is relevant to argue your point.

4. Learning Proper Courtroom Etiquette

Parents who hope to win child custody must behave appropriately in court or they are risking losing the child custody hearing. Discuss proper courtroom etiquette with your lawyer to get a better understanding of what is expected, as well as any pitfalls you need to be on the lookout for. In addition, do some role playing with your lawyer in advance, if possible , and make sure that you understand the expectations outlined prior to your court appearance.

5. Know what to Expect During Your Child Custody Hearing.

Child custody hearings tend to be less adversarial or combative than other types of court cases. Parents seeking to win child custody should know what to expect in advance so that they can best be prepared and anticipate each step of the process. Your case will be presented in front of the judge, and he or she will make decisions and issue a child custody order.

6. How to Dress for Your Child Custody Hearing

Dress to impress. Seriously, parents who hope to win child custody should prepare to make a positive first impression. Proper courtroom attire should never be overlooked. You only get once chance to make a good first impression on the judge. Before the judge hears your case or even knows your child’s name, he will form an opinion of you based on appearance. So talk with your lawyer about what to wear and make sure you present yourself in the very best light at your child custody hearing.

Divorce Law

The Matrimonial Home

The matrimonial home is afforded special treatment under the Family Law Act (FLA). Part 2 of the FLA deals entirely with the matrimonial home: what it is, how it is treated in the equalization process, and who has a right to possess it. For many couples, the matrimonial home represents the largest and most significant asset, and it is also a place of great emotional and personal significance. One must mention that only married or formerly married spouses are granted rights under legislation. This includes same-sex couples who have legally married. It is important that couples properly understand how this home is treated under the law.
What qualifies as a “matrimonial home”?
Section 18(1) of the FLA defines a matrimonial home as every property in which either spouse has an interest and which is currently, or was at the time of separation, “ordinarily occupied by the person and his or her spouse as their family residence.” Under this definition, more than one home can qualify as a matrimonial home. If the parties have a cottage that they also use regularly as a family, and were using at the time of separation, the cottage will be a second matrimonial home. But if the cottage was for the most part used only by one of the spouses, it may not be considered a matrimonial home for the purposes of the Act. It is important to note that a married couple may have more than one matrimonial home: their main residence, cottages, chalets, condominiums, etc. can all qualify simultaneously. The dwelling must be used at the time of marriage breakdown as a matrimonial home, and its use need not be full-time but must be consistent with normal use of such property, such as summer long weekends for a cottage, winter getaways to the condo in Miami, and so on.

Protection given to the matrimonial home
Neither spouse can sell or encumber an interest in a matrimonial home, except by court order, unless the other spouse has consented or released their rights to the home in a separation agreement. If one spouse does “alienate” the family home in this way, the court can set aside the transaction upon application of the other spouse. This is the case unless the person who purchased the house did so in good faith and was not aware the home was a matrimonial home (FLA s. 21(2)). Often the sale or encumbrance requires the consent of the other party as per the lender’s requirements. Therefore, it will rarely get done without the consent of the other side.

Advancement of the Law
From the Supreme Court of Canada down through all courts, the last 10 years has seen a series of decisions that have extended spousal rights to common-law couples and to same-sex couples. The major limitation remains the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Walsh v. Bona, which at least for the foreseeable future, means that common-law couples of whatever sexual orientation will not have statutory property rights nor equitably obtained similar results.