Friend of the Court Program

 

Criteria to be considered when determining custody/parenting under
"BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD" criteria

In disputes involving parents or family members or other third parties an agency or third party, there will be no presumption of custody/parenting in favor of any of the parties.  Under the Friend of the Court Program, ALL of the following factors (and their subcategories) which have significance in any decision, will be considered by any person(s) or agency involved in providing recommendations relevant to matters of custody/parenting.  The Family Justice Review Committee will not endorse any final recommendations as to custody/parenting unless all of relevant criteria have been considered.

Where it has been determined through a careful analysis of information that both parents are able to reasonably satisfy the criteria for custody/parenting then, in applying principles of fairness fairness and equality, both parents shall be equally granted the opportunity of shared or equal custodial parent status. Note that the factors are not listed in any order of importance.

Criteria to be considered:

(a) The love, affection and ties that exist between the child and each person to whom the child's custody is entrusted, each person to whom access to the child is granted and, where appropriate, each sibling of the child.

(b) The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to give the child love, affection, and guidance and continuation of the education and raising of the child in its cultural and religious heritage.

(c) The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to provide the child with food, clothing and shelter.

(d) The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to provide the child with medical care or other remedial care recognized and permitted under the laws.

(e) The capacity and disposition of the each parent to work cooperatively, in a friendly and non hostile manner, with the other parent and/or other family members towards the best interests of the child.

(f) The potential and likelihood of the parent to abuse the power and control which would be granted to them, should circumstances warrant them to have sole custody status.

(g) The likelihood of each parent to respect and to comply to the best of their ability, all orders of the court or any mutual agreement between the parties.

(h) The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory home and community environment and the importance of this when compared to all the factors which are considered relevant to the best interest of the child(ren).

(i) Previous history of child abuse by any of the parties against the children and where confirmed abuse has been a factor in the past, the likelihood that this abuse will continue in the future.

(j) Previous history of conflict between the children and the parent and the liklihood that this conflict will continue in the future.

(k) The capacity and willingness of each of the parties to encourage and maintain a child's relationship with their family and friends.

(l) The capacity and willingness of each of the parties to involve themselves in their children's school.  (Studies have shown that parents involvement in their children's school has a direct and significant impact on their children's performance at school.

(m) The capacity and willingness of each of the parties to involve themselves and members of their family in community activities and events.  It is recognized that a parent's involvement in such activities helps to foster a sense of community and sets a good role model for the child(ren) which are important factors in the child's development and future opportunities.

(n) The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes.

(o) The moral fitness of the parties involved.

(p) The mental and physical health of the parties or their current spouses as it relates to their ability to provide for the care for the child(ren).

(q) The home, school, and community record of the child.

(r) The wishes and preferences of the child, if it is determined that the child is of sufficient maturity and awareness to express their wishes and preference.

(s) The willingness and ability of the parties to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent and the other parent's extended family and to reasonably share with the time and costs of transporting the child(ren) between the parent's homes.

(t) Exposure to domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against, or witnessed by the child, as well as the likelihood that the child may be exposed to further incidents of violence while in the care of a parent.

(u) The integrity of the parties.

(v) Any other factor considered by the community to be relevant to the custody of a child in any particular child custody dispute.

(w) The capacity and willingness of each of the parents to work cooperatively and in an accountable way with those in the community who are trying to assist their family resolve their difficulties and ensure that the best interest of the children are being protected.

(x) Any other rights of the child or parents as defined and ratified by the committee which may not be specifically referenced in the above providing that these rights do not conflict with the factors listed under (a to w).