Ontario families are diverse, and as such, guardians come in many forms. Parents are not the only people who care for children, and in many cases, non-traditional families may want to add official legal status to their relationships. Fortunately, there are numerous ways to gain custody, which would give a person the ability to make decisions about health care, education and other vital aspects of a minor’s life.
Under the provisions of the Family Law Act, individuals who are not already guardians must submit formal applications to gain such status. These applications include court-mandated affidavits that incorporate criminal background and general records checks. If the children have been under the applicant’s care previously, courts may additionally require information about their living arrangements and other considerations. The court determines how evidence will be received and what kinds of reports are needed to accurately assess the child’s welfare.
Guardianship may also be assumed by appointment upon the death or incapacitation of a previous legal guardian; this status is generally conferred via a will or the Family Law Act Regulation’s Form 2. It is important to note, however, that in such cases, the new guardian will not be given more responsibilities than the previous one had the right to grant.
Although the Family Law Act makes provisions for many forms of guardianship transfer, each situation is unique. The rules one family has to follow may be markedly different from those another is bound by, especially when child custody changes follow potentially hectic events, like divorces, domestic abuse allegations or deaths. Many families choose to obtain case-specific guidance from legal advisers so they can avoid mistakes and pursue a favourable outcome.
Source: The Canadian Bar Association, “How are parental responsibilities and parenting time decided?”, October 16, 2014
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