If you are a separated father, you are certainly not alone. Statistics Canada estimates that approximately one third of all Canadian marriages eventually end in divorce. For fathers with young children, going through a divorce or separation can be especially difficult. You may be wondering: Can a father get sole custody in Ontario? The short answer is that sole custody can be awarded to a dad—but some form of joint custody or custody is more common and fathers face some unique challenges in family law disputes. In this article, our Ontario child custody lawyers highlight the most important things to know about a father’s right to seek sole custody in Canada.
A Father Must Establish Paternity to Access Parental Rights
In Ontario, a father’s parental rights are linked to paternity. Without paternity, a father cannot lawfully claim any custody or visitation rights for a child, let alone sole custody rights. That is not to say that establishing paternity is an issue for all fathers. Indeed, paternity is presumed in a number of different situations – the most common example being a dad who is married to the child’s mother at the time of the birth. If you were married to the child’s mother and you subsequently got divorced, you are presumed to be the lawful father. On the other hand, a dad who is unmarried and separated may need to take additional action to establish paternity, potentially including seeking DNA testing.
Fathers Have the Right to Seek Custody, including Sole Custody
In general, Ontario’s Children’s Law Reform Act requires courts to resolve custody & visitation matters by determining what is best for the child. The statute notes that the “paramount consideration” in these types of cases “shall be the best interests of the child.” The law does not automatically preference mothers. Quite the contrary: both fathers and mothers technically have equal rights under the law.
Notably, courts tend to presume that it is best for a child to have a positive, ongoing relationship with both parents. As such, joint custody or shared custody is usually the favored resolution. However, when it is in the best interest of the child, an Ontario court can award sole custody to one parent, including to the father.
Fathers Face Some Unique Challenges in Custody & Visitation Cases
As noted previously, the child custody and visitation laws are gender neutral. Mothers do not have stronger parental rights than fathers. At the same time, fathers face some challenges in asserting their rights. The official records show that mothers are far more likely to get exclusive custody. A recent report from the Department of Justice Canada found that mothers are nearly 13 times more likely to have sole child custody than fathers. Nonetheless, the law is clear: Fathers have the right to petition for full custody to protect the health and well-being of their kids. If you are a father seeking sole custody in Ontario, you need a passionate legal advocate in your corner. Contact our Oshawa child custody and visitation lawyers for immediate help with your case.
Call Our Ontario Child Custody Lawyers for a Confidential Legal Consultation
At Carmichael Law Professional Corporation, our Ontario family lawyers have extensive experience handling complex child custody and visitation cases. Our legal team is effective, dedicated, and focused on the best interests of clients and their families. If you have any questions about fathers rights’ and child custody, we are here to help. Contact us today for a confidential initial consultation. With an office in Oshawa, our lawyers represent parents throughout the Durham region, including in Pickering, Ajax, Uxbridge, Whitby, and Clarington.