In Ontario, custody rights work a little differently for married parents vs. unmarried parents. With married parents, both parents automatically have presumed equal rights to the child before a custody order is in place. However, with unmarried parents, the mother is considered to have sole legal custody of the child until a court order is established. This means that the mother has the sole decision-making responsibility for the child and can decide when or even if the child visits the other parent.
If you aren’t married and are concerned about having access to or custody of your child, your first stop should be with a family law lawyer. Our firm can help you determine what your rights are and what legal options may be available to you.
What Rights Does the Other Parent Have?
When the parents are unmarried, the mother has assumed sole custody of the child. This means that the other parent doesn’t have any inherent rights to the child. If the mother allows the other parent to see the child, the other parent can get access that way, but this also means that if the mother stops allowing visits, the other parent doesn’t have any legal rights to the child until they go through the courts.
How Can a Custody Order Be Established?
A custody order is established through the family courts. When the parents are unmarried, paternity may need to be established before any custody order can be pursued. This may be true even if the father signed the birth certificate. Once legal paternity is established, the courts can put forth orders related to the child, including both custody and support orders.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Get Custody?
It is possible to pursue getting a child custody order in place without having to go through a lawyer. You will need to file the correct paperwork with the courts and pay any associated fees for the filing. You will also need to cooperate with any court orders, such as those mandating a paternity test. However, this process can be overwhelming and emotional, and it can help to have a lawyer to handle everything for you so you can focus on your needs and the needs of the children.
Whether you are a parent trying to get custody of your child or are an unmarried mother wondering what your rights are, we can help. The family courts can be challenging to navigate on your own, but our firm is ready and available to help you understand your options and how to get legal orders finalized. Call our Toronto office today at 647-933-2397 to find out more.