How to Get Sole Custody in British Columbia

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Child custody is one of the biggest issues in family law matters. Divorcing couples often fight bitterly over custody, and the thought of enduring divorce court or crafting a sole custody case may seem daunting.

Don’t fret, we’re here to help! The team of family lawyers at Dhanu Dhaliwal Law Group have years of experience with sole custody cases, and can help you through this process if you are looking to become the sole custodial parent of your child or children.

And to help you out, here are some answers to commonly asked questions about getting sole custody in British Columbia.

How do I Get Sole Custody?

Sole custody is not the norm for divorce in British Columbia. Under the BC Family Law Act, both parents are assumed to be the guardians of their children and both parents are expected to share parental responsibilities.

If you’re looking to obtain sole custody, you will need to apply to the Court to get a declaration. This declaration will state that you will be the only parent making decisions for your child or children. It will also confirm that you are the parent with whom your children will reside.

A common misconception is that mothers automatically get sole custody of children. In British Columbia, as well as all of Canada, courts recognize that children need the care and love of both parents, in whatever capacity that entails.

The BC court system (as well as us at Dhanu Dhaliwal Law Group) doesn’t take kindly to petty squabbles, especially over custody. Many parents fight for custody for all the wrong reasons – maybe they’re mad at their spouse or they want to come out “the victor.”

We know you’re not the type to do something like that. There are many good reasons to seek sole custody, and it is crucially important that you show this to the court.

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Reasons to Ask for Sole Custody in BC

In some cases, it may be in the best interest of your children that you get sole custody. Cases like these include, but are certainly not limited to:

  •         If the other parent moved to or lives in another country
  •         If the other parent is addicted to drugs or alcohol
  •         If the other parent has abandoned your children
  •         You believe the other parent is abusing or has abused your child or children
  •         If the other parent became incapable of caring for your children due to a medical issue, injury, or other circumstance
  •         The other parent has passed away

What do I Need to Prove in BC to Obtain Sole Custody?

In order to get sole custody, you will need to prove in court that this is in the best interests of your children. You’ll need to show to the court that there is no other alternative that could be more beneficial, since by default, in BC courts expect both parents to have at least some custodial rights.

To do this, you will need to prove that:

  •         You are a good parent;
  •         You are (or should be) the primary parent to your children;
  •         The other parent is incapable of sharing custody or having custody of your children;
  •         It is impracticable or impossible to share custody

If your children are over the age of 12, you will also need to prove that they want to live with you full time.

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When Should I Apply for Sole Custody?

Timing is not as important as you might think when it comes to getting sole custody. You can apply for sole custody in BC at any point after separation, and this does not have any bearing on the validity or the court’s receptiveness to your case.

You might think you need to apply immediately, but this is not necessarily true. Situations often change – maybe the other parent was supportive and nurturing to your children after your separation, but became distant or abusive after time.

To answer the question of when, we would need to look at your situation specifically. Give us a call or fill out our form to get started.

What Rights Will I Have When I Get Custody?

As a parent who has sole custody of your children, you will have the following rights:

  •         The right to decide where your children will reside;
  •         The right to what religion or cultural upbringing the children will have;
  •         The right to provide medical and dental health help to your children;
  •         The right to make day to day decisions for your children such as what to eat and where to play;
  •         The right to apply for passports or licenses for your children;
  •         The right to sue others on behalf of your children;
  •         The right to obtain third party information relating to your children such as medical, doctor or dental notes;
  •         The right decide where your children go to school or what activities they can participate in;
  •         The right to have children reside with you

If you’re looking to get sole custody of your children, or if you’re in need of any other family law service, don’t hesitate to give us a call today! 

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