Who will the children live with? An overview of “access”

Written by Kara-Lynne Chapman


This is probably the most pressing question you will have once the decision to separate has been made. There are no hard and fast rules on this and what works for one family may not work for another. Your unique circumstances must be considered in determining the appropriate parenting schedule for your children. Research has shown that having a consistent, predictable schedule is important for children to successfully transition to their new family dynamic.

In many cases, the children will live primarily with one parent and will have “access” to the other in accordance with an agreed upon schedule. In some cases, the children will spend an equal amount of time with each parent, for example on a “week-about” basis. Finally, there is also a possibility for the children to be split up between the parents with some children living with Dad and others living with Mom; this is called “split custody”.

Many factors will need to be considered when determining your parenting schedule, including:

  1. Has one parent historically done the majority of the caregiving?
  2. How old are the children?
  3. Do either of the parents do shift work?
  4. Are there any safety concerns?
  5. Are the children old enough to have a say?
  6. Will the proposed primary caregiver facilitate access to the other parent?

The law says that the children should spend as much time with each parent as is in their best interest. We will assist you in negotiating the parenting schedule that will accomplish this.

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