Parenting, Guardianship & Custody

“Your child’s best interests come first in any dispute over custody, access, parenting, and guardianship. Period.”

Our Vancouver Child Custody Lawyers

Put Your Children’s Best Interests First

Nothing is more important to a parent than their child.  Who the child will reside with and who will have the ability to make important life decisions relating to the child can turn into a very painful and emotionally heated dispute, even in amicable separations.  The most important part of any divorce is always the decisions relating to the care and well-being of children.

Our Vancouver child custody lawyers are committed to placing your child’s best interest first and helping you achieve a parenting arrangement that suits your child’s life and needs.  We understand that every family is different – we listen to your story and get to know you on a personal level to ensure a more positive result and settlement of custody issues, as quickly and cooperatively as possible.

The worst result in litigation is when children are used as weapons.  Our Vancouver child custody lawyers are highly skilled and experienced in ensuring that your child custody case is resolved as quickly and cooperatively as possible.  No one wants to waste years in the court system battling over issues of custody and access.  Our experienced child custody lawyers have resolved countless child custody disputes and enabled co-parents reach successful outcomes in a timely fashion, both inside and outside the courtroom.

Preparing for a Child Custody Dispute:

Case Strategy is Everything

If your fighting for custody of your child, there are many things you can do to either strengthen or weaken your case.  In the majority of child custody battles, the difference between these two outcomes is having the right legal expertise to formulate a successful case strategy from the outset.

At Nasser Allan, we work with you to help you develop a winning child custody strategy to deal with the issues you face from the outset.  We educate you so that you understand what is going through a judge’s head when that judge is making decisions relating to your children.  This in turn gives you the power to control your actions so that you can influence that decision maker’s ultimate decision in your favor. This is not only good for you, it’s an approach that’s good for your children, and your wallet.

Even in amicable separations, it is wise to approach a custody case as if you are preparing for court.  This not only keeps your bargaining position strong as your case is organized and on task, but it can also help save on your legal bills.

In the heat of separation, matters which should not end up in court often do, such as court applications to stop a barrage of unwarranted and unnecessary text messages which only weaken your case.  Handing you separation as if you are going to trial can help keep many of these behaviors in check and ensure you have the best chance of winning your child custody battle.

3 Things You Can Do Now to Strengthen Your Child Custody Case

(1) Control Text Messages

The first most important thing to do is keep text messages or any form of written communication between yourself and your ex short, sweet and to the point.  Don’t discuss separation issues and don’t attempt to “win” your case via text message.  Assume that everything you put in writing will be reviewed by a judge at a later point.

(2) Keep a Parenting Journal

The second thing you can do to help your case is to keep a detailed, written diary recording all the activities you do with yourself and your children. Record who is taking care of the children and when, together with details relating to your child’s day to day.

(3) Make Rational Decisions

The third thing you can do is avoid anger and make reasonable, co-parenting decisions.  This seems simple, but it often isn’t, as we are hardwired to protect our children and communication lines can break down during divorce and separation. It is important to stay calm and positive during your child custody dispute, for the sake of your children.  Seek professional help if your unable to do so, your counselling records should remain confidential, and do your best to act as a cooperative and reasonable adult.

3 Mistakes that Hurt Your Child Custody Case

(1) Do Not Get Arrested

One of the easiest ways to destroy your child custody dispute is by getting yourself arrested.  In the eyes of the law, you are no longer a fit parent if you have violent criminal law charges pending.  This can be the case regardless of whether those charges are later dropped – the damage may already be done.  You may be reduced to supervised parenting time with your child which in turn sets a status quo whereby you have limited contact with your child.  Resist the urge and seek profession help at all times if you have anger management problems or a propensity for violence – this action will actually strengthen your custody case, not weaken it.

(2) Do Not Disobey Temporary Custody Order

It is common for the court to make “interim” or temporary child custody orders at the outset of a family law dispute, which typically remain in place until a further court order, agreement, or trial.  One of the most damaging mistakes a parent can make is to disobey these orders.  If you disregard what a court says, do not expect a court to later decide the issue in your favor.  Disobeying a judge’s order effectively shows the court you cannot be trusted and therefore your children are not safe in your care.  If you don’t agree with an interim order, contact an experienced family law lawyer to vary it.  Do not take the issue into your own hands as it will only damage your case.

(3) Do Not Post on Social Media

Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are not the place to vent your frustrations or denigrate your co-parent.  Conversely, social media is not the place to display your newly single life.  Expect that everything you post will be used against you, even if your settings are turned to private.   Save your embarrassment and save your wallet – don’t post anything controversial online no matter how good it feels in the moment.

 Key Issues Affecting Child Custody

Alienation

When parents fight over children in high-conflict custody battles, the impacts on their children can be profound and long lasting.  Unfortunately during separation, one parents animosity and anger towards the other can be passed down to their children, who often are innocent witnesses to a parent’s negative comments and hostile behaviors.

The severe effects of alienation are akin to child abuse.  Every child has a need and a right to a close and loving relationship with both parents.  Children are the true victims of parental alienation and this harmful behavior can lead to negative outcomes such as anger towards the targeted parent, lack of self esteem or confidence in the child, depression, eating disorders and drug and alcohol abuse.

If you suspect your child is being alienation, you need expert advice from an experienced family law lawyer.  At Nasser Allan, we have years of experience identifying even subtle forms of alienation and the tools to shut this abuse down.

Examples of Parental Alienation

  • Preventing contact between one parent and the other or undermining contact with the other parent
  • Undermining the role of the other parent in the child’s life
  • Limiting contact with the other parent to no more than a couple of hours a week
  • Intercepting phone calls, text messages and emails from the other parent
  • Discussing issues of divorce and separation with the child, ie. comments regarding child support
  • Making disparaging comments about the other parent in the presence of the children
  • Creating fear around the other parent, ie. telling the child the parent is crazy or dangerous or unworthy of being a parent
  • Criticizing or belittling the other parent to the child
  • Acting hurt, betrayed, abandoned when the child wishes to see the other parent
  • Any behavior that causes the child to reject the other parent

Section 211 Reports

In deciding what parenting arrangement is in a child’s best interest, a court may order what is referred to as a “Section 211 Report”, or a Custody and Access Report written by a third party professional such as a psychologist, counselor or social worker.  The purpose of these reports is to cut through the otherwise acrimonious allegations of a lengthy he-said, she-said battle, and instead provide the court with information prepared by an independent professional trained to assess your child’s well-being and what parent is best suited to meet your child’s needs.

What is Involved in a Section 211 Report?

Section 211 reports are designed to get to the heart of parenting issues and can be a useful tool when dealing with alienating or narcissistic parenting behaviors.  Section 211 Reports involve an evaluation of both parents in terms of their ability and willingness to meet the needs of their children.  This process includes not only a psychological evaluation but also an observation of the parents interaction, including disciplinary styles, with their child.   The author of the report will often also interview collateral witnesses together with reviewing all affidavits, court pleadings or evidence otherwise presented to the court.  While Section 211 Reports can be criticized as “invasive” for these reasons, the court has referred to them as their “eyes and ears ” as often a trained professional who has observed behaviors first hand is in a better position to make determinations as to what is in your child’s best interest than a judge siting behind a bench.

How Much do Section 211 Reports Cost?

Section 211 Reports are comprehensive reports prepared by mental health professionals and due to their expertise, can cost upwards of $10,000.  These reports are time consuming and thorough and can be in excess of 50 pages, which contributes to their cost.

In some cases, a court will order a Section 211 court to be prepared by a family justice counselor, if either or both parties are of low income and unable to privately fund a Section 211 Report.  The disadvantage of a court ordered report is they are very slow and often take 1 or 2 years to complete.

Changing Custody Orders

Parenting arrangements that seemed reasonable at the time may become outdated and unreasonable as a child ages or grows accustomed to living between two homes.  You can apply to change or ‘vary’ a previous court order if you are able to demonstrate what is referred to as a material change in circumstances.  This means you will need to provide the court with evidence that something in your situation (or in your ex’s situation) has changed that warrants revisiting the original custody order.

Examples: Material Change of Circumstances in Child Custody

There are many examples of what may amount to a material change in circumstances warranting revisiting a existing child custody order.

A few examples include:

  • Relocation, such as one parent wishes to move out of province either with or without the child;
  • Substance abuse, family violence or likewise concerns that one parent has become unable or unfit to care and meet the child’s needs;
  • Age, development and views of your child – what may have be appropriate when you child was 5 may not be suitable at age 10;
  • Your child may express an opinion about what parenting arrangement he or she would prefer.

Vancouver Child Custody Lawyers

Vancouver Divorce Lawyers

Our Vancouver child custody lawyers use mediation and out of court methods to resolve custody and access issues as quickly and cooperatively as possible.

Where amicable resolutions are not possible, we are skilled and expert litigators and ensure your children are not used as weapons in the court system.

Contact us now on 604 620 8682.

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What Our Client’s Say

“Laura is an amazing lawyer.  She is extremely knowledgeable, caring and detail oriented. In court, she will aggressively defend your case and doesn’t drag matters out. Whenever I had questions, she answered them in a straightforward, honest manner.”

Client

“Nassim was extremely helpful, knowledgeable, friendly. I felt she genuinely cared about me and my situation. Nassim was very quick to action when needed and helped me reach an agreement with my difficult ex. I will be forever grateful for Nassim in allowing me to move forward and start a new chapter with my children.”

Client

“These last couple of months have been very stressful for me. Laura Allan has been very reassuring and patient. I found myself in the middle of a high conflict custody battle and I felt protected and taken care of the entire process. The emotional support and dedication to my case has been incredible.”

Client

“Nassim was an excellent Lawyer. She helped us settle our case with ease. The result was greater than we expected in such short time. She was knowledgeable, informative and an absolute pleasure to work with. I would recommend her to anyone looking to for a family lawyer to get the job done.”

Client

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