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*We are expecting some changes to the wording of the term custody effective March 1, 2021 due to changes in the divorce act.  Please contact us for further information.

Divorce is one of the top 10 most stressful life events. If you are currently going through a divorce, you undoubtedly know how stressful it can be. Making divorce even more stressful is if you have children and need the courts to determine custody.

Who your child lives with and who gets to make decisions about their upbringing is extremely important, and if you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse can't agree, you may need the courts to step in to determine the custody arrangement. If this is the case, you should hire a child custody lawyer to represent you through the process.

A child custody lawyer understands how the courts work and what your rights are. To learn more about this process, the different types of custody, and how the courts determine custody, read on.


In joint custody, both parents make decisions about the child and their day-to-day care. Typically, the child resides with one parent more than the other, and that parent is said to have "primary care and control." The other parent has access to the child, though.

Both parents need to agree to this and work together to make sure that this can be successful. When there is an amicable divorce, this type of arrangement is likely to be successful.


In a sole custody arrangement, the child (or children) live with one parent who also has the authority to make the day-to-day parenting decisions and bigger decisions, such as schooling. The other parent has access, is typically financially responsible, and will often be given the right to have input on certain decisions.

The court may say that the sole custodial parent cannot move with the child without the other parent's consent, for example, or order that both parents must agree on certain decisions.


A shared parenting arrangement means that the children live with each parent at least 40% of the time. In many cases, parents have a joint custody arrangement and a shared parenting arrangement. Both parents have nearly equal time with the child or children, and both parents have equal input on the daily decisions regarding their care.


Split custody only applies if there are multiple children. In a split custody arrangement, each parent has custody of one or more children. This might occur with older children who are given a say in which parent they want to live with. The other parent still has access and sees the child, but they live with one parent the majority of the time.


Ideally, the parents or guardians will come to a mutually agreeable decision on the custody arrangement. If this is not possible, a judge will need to decide what is best for the child or children. To make this decision, the judge will consider a variety of factors, including:

  • The child's age

  • The child's psychological, physical, and emotional well-being and needs

  • Who has been the primary caretaker thus far

  • The child's wishes (when they are old enough)

  • The plans for the future that each parent has

  • Family violence

  • The relationship between the child or children and each parent

  • The ability of each parent to care for the child

  • What each parent wants to happen

Judges will consider this information in accordance with the Alberta Family Law Act to decide the custody type that serves the best interests of the children.


It's wise to have a child custody lawyer to help you work your way through the family law system. They can help ensure that your children’s best interests are kept in mind and help you fight for what you think is right for your kids.

If you need an experienced family law lawyer in Northwest Calgary, contact us at Dukeshire Law today. Our lawyers have experience in all aspects of family law.


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