For many parents, managing time with the children and parental responsibilities are among the key concerns when ending a marriage. In British Columbia, both parents have equal rights regarding their children, unless otherwise decided by a court. However, it is still prudent for parents to take steps to preserve and cement their role in their child’s life immediately following divorce, especially if the other parent is challenging those rights. Here are a few things that can be done to help protect one’s parental rights:
- Ask a lawyer for specifics about the province’s child custody laws, and for advice on how to pursue and preserve custody rights in B.C.
- Try to discuss matters with the other parent; although things may be tense, having at least a temporary visitation and/or custody arrangement can help set things in the right direction and prevent miscommunication.
- Be present for the child by showing up to doctor appointments, school meetings and extracurriculars as much as possible.
- Put the best interests of the child first. Actions that seem petty, selfish or outside of what is best for the child may be seen by courts as an indication of a less-than-capable parent.
- Collect evidence of parental support of the child. This can include proof of enrolling them in activities, pictures they have drawn and given the parent, or photos taken together. If the bond between the parent and child is called into question, these can be helpful to have on hand.
Finally, knowing what a “win” would look like from one’s own perspective is very important when working out child custody. Those with more clarity as to their own preferences for scheduling, transporting between visits, school districts and so on are able to better approach these topics and make their case when a co-parenting plan is being negotiated. Having a trusted British Columbia family lawyer can help to guide someone as they approach these steps.