Ask for custody in court or not?

Ask for custody in court or not?

For many single moms, the first contact they will have with the justice system in their lives is the day they go to seek legal custody of their children. But, is it the best choice to make or family mediation could be better indicated?

Often, the problem is that we wait too long before seeking legal or legal aid and these weeks, months or years are taken into account by the judge to decide on custody. “We have what we call the status quo. So, when we decide to go to court, during the whole process before having a judgment, what will have to remain is the situation already in place. And to modify these custody conditions, you will have to have a really serious reason, ”explains Me Chloé Faucher-Lafrance, lawyer and family mediator.

Two scenarios are common according to her. In the first, custody has been established amicably for a long time, but suddenly a conflict arises and we want to have a judgment. “In this case what has been taken as an arrangement before will be taken into consideration since the parents' ability to care for their child should not suddenly be called into question.”

In the second case, the separation is recent and one of the two parents prevents the other from seeing the child for X reasons. account because it has never been clearly established for what reasons contacts would be prohibited or controlled”, explains the lawyer.

In all cases, the main criterion which will be taken into account by the judge to decide the custody is the interest of the child.

The only way to control the judgment is to do it yourself -same. There are different ways to do this. For example, by going through a mediator to establish an agreement which will then be ratified by the court.

Chloé Faucher-Lafrance, lawyer and family mediator

Get along before you-can't-get-anymore

It is therefore easier to establish an agreement between the co-parents before certain events upset the situation. “A lot of things will impact the deal between the co-parents. For example, the arrival of a new spouse in the decor of either parent. This can suddenly create a disagreement on the level of involvement of the step-parent, a sudden desire for freedom or to demonstrate that one is a good parent, etc.”

The subject of child custody is definitely a very emotional one for most parents. “Each parent goes into protection mode and justification mode. As much as we want to protect the child, we want our lives back. When the parents are not at the same stage, it can lead to conflict. But we must always remember that it is not because we are separated that we are no longer parents.”

The role of the judge or the mediator will therefore be to bring the rational, not emotional decisions. And although joint custody is in fashion, it will not be chosen outright by the judge. We must therefore know how to put our emotions aside to really think about the reasons that lead us to want to go to court because the judgment that will emerge will not necessarily make us happy.

“I therefore strongly advise people not to wait for the conflict to arise before seeking advice and information,” concludes Me Faucher-Lafrance.

Tools at your fingertips

A group information session on parenting after a breakup is offered free of charge by the Ministère de la Justice.

It allows parents to be better equipped to deal with the breakup and settle the terms of their separation, whether in family mediation or before the courts.

People wishing more information on this subject can go to the website of the Ministry of Justice.

*To contact Me Faucher-Lafrance:,   Siskinds Desmeules, avocados.

More and more mothers are raising their children alone in Quebec.  Challenges for single mothers is aimed at these women and aims to help them meet their particular challenges.

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