Child Custody and Access in Ontario

Kimberley Wilton, B.Sc. (Hons.), B.A., J.D.Custody and Access, Divorce, Family Law, Separation0 Comments

What is Custody?

Custody refers to the ability of parents to make major decisions concerning health, education, and religion in their children’s lives.

Types of Custody Arrangements in Ontario

Sole custody means that one parent makes most of the major decisions in the children’s lives. However, the non-custodial parent usually has the right to be given information and make inquires about the welfare, health and education of the children.

Joint custody means both parents share the ability to make major decisions in the children’s lives. For joint custody to be successful, parents need to be able to cooperate and communicate with each other. With joint custody, the children may primarily reside with one parent or the children may live equal amounts of time with both parents.

Shared custody is a form of joint custody where the children spend at least 40% of their time with each parent. The children have a legal home in each parent’s home. Share custody arrangements can impact child support as the Child Support Guidelines treat this form of custody differently.

Split custody is when one parent has sole custody of one of more of the children and one parent has sole custody of the other children. Split custody is not very prevalent and is most common when dealing with older children and teenagers.


Custody is often confused with access. Access is also called “parenting-time” and refers to the physical time parents spend with their children. Access can be on a fixed schedule or a flexible schedule. A typical access schedule is where the children primarily reside with one parent and the other parent has access to the children on alternate weekends or during the week. Often, holidays and other special events are shared between the parents.

Access can be supervised or unsupervised. Commonly, access is unsupervised, meaning there is no third-party present during the time the access parent and the child are together. There are differing levels of supervised access. While many factors are considered when determining an access schedule, the best interests of the child is always the most predominant consideration.

Do you need assistance with choosing the right type of custody and access arrangement for your family? We can help. At Gilbertson Davis LLP, our family law lawyer advises and represents clients in child custody and access disputes.

Brief informational summaries about insurance litigation, commercial litigation and family law litigation matters in the courts of Ontario and Canada are periodically published on our website. Please note that our website content is for informational purposes only, and should not be construed or relied upon to provide legal advice. If you require legal advice, please request an initial consultation with Gilbertson Davis LLP using the Request Consultation Form on this webpage or by contacting our Intake Coordinator on (416) 979-2020, ext. 223 (both subject to the Terms of Use described on our Contact page).

About the Author
Kimberley Wilton, B.Sc. (Hons.), B.A., J.D.

Kimberley Wilton, B.Sc. (Hons.), B.A., J.D.

Kimberley practices exclusively in family law, from contentious custody and access disputes, child and spousal support claims, to complex property division, adoption applications, and mobility issues. Kimberley is a skilled litigator and experienced in alternative dispute resolution. Bio | Contact

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *