Child Custody


Either parent may make an application to the Court for custody of a child in the context of the breakdown of the relationship. Some parents ask for shared custody.


Parents have the rights and duties of custody, supervision and education of their children.


Regardless of which parent has custody of a child, in Quebec parents jointly exercise parental authority. This means that even if one parent agrees that the other will have custody of a child after a separation and the other parent will have access rights, both parents still have the right to be involved in the important decisions of the child's life.


Whether the custody of a child is entrusted to one of the parents or a third party, the father and the mother retain the right to supervise the maintenance and the education of the children, and are bound to contribute to their maintenance in proportion to their means.


People traditionally think of one parent having custody and the other parent having access rights. Access rights can be as few or as much as the parents agree or the Court decides. Many parents believe that shared custody where children split their residence between both parents is the best for children, while others feel strongly that shared parenting is hard on children. Some parents want their children to live mainly in one home but agree that the other parent should have the children for extended access periods, such as from Thursday night to Monday morning, every other week.


What is important in decisions relating to custody is to consider what will work well for a particular family and the children of that family. Talking to a child psychologist can be helpful for parents who want to make the best decision possible.


Many parents decide custody in mediation. Some cannot resolve custody even with the help of a mediator and ask the Court to determine custody in their favor. Custody cases can be very bitter and things can be said which are not forgotten for a long time. Nonetheless there are instances where the Court's intervention is required to decide what is best for the children when parents cannot agree and are each convinced their position is the right one.


In some child custody cases parents will hire experts to do psychological evaluations of the children in order to help the Court decide. The Court has a free service but in order to use it, both parents have to agree, and a judge has to have heard some evidence that an expertise is necessary.


The Court provides free co-parenting courses and they are highly recommended. To obtain further information on these courses you can find more information at the Montreal Courthouse under family mediation.


The most important thing in a situation where parents disagree on custody is not to involve the children in a fight and never to talk badly about the other parent no matter how frustrating the situation.