Divorce and separation can be a difficult and emotional time for everyone involved, especially when children are involved. Some of the most contentious issues in a divorce or separation are parenting, custody, and access to children of the relationship. Many parents wonder if they can legally prevent their children from seeing their other parent in Alberta. In this article, we will explore this question and provide some guidance on what you can do if you are facing this situation in Alberta.
The Best Interests of the Child in Alberta
In Alberta, the best interests of the child are the most important consideration when it comes to parenting, custody, and access issues. These decisions must be made with the child’s best interests in mind. In general, the courts believe that it is in the best interests of a child to have a relationship with both parents, unless there are compelling reasons to believe otherwise. While maximal contact with both parents is a goal, it is not the sole criteria for determining best interests of the child.
Legal Custody vs Physical Custody in Alberta
It is important to understand the difference between legal custody and physical custody in Alberta. Legal custody refers to the right to make major decisions about a child’s life, such as decisions about education, healthcare, and religion. Physical custody, on the other hand, refers to where the child lives on a day-to-day basis. An award of sole legal custody to one parent is uncommon in Alberta.
Even if one parent has sole legal custody of a child in Alberta, this does not necessarily mean that they can prevent the other parent from seeing the child. The parent with sole legal custody may still be required to facilitate contact between the child and the other parent, provided it is in the best interests of the child, which typically is the case.
Restraining Orders and Emergency Protection Orders in Alberta
In some cases, it may be necessary to obtain a restraining order or emergency protection order to prevent a parent from having contact with a child in Alberta. These orders are granted in cases where there is evidence of abuse, violence, or a risk of harm to the child, as set out in the Protection Against Family Violence Act. The courts may order that future parenting time be supervised. If you are concerned for your safety or the safety of your child, you should contact the police or a lawyer in Alberta immediately.
Enforcing Custody and Access Orders in Alberta
If a parent is preventing the other parent from seeing their child in Alberta, the affected parent may be able to obtain a court order for custody and access. The court order can be enforced through the court system in Alberta, and the parent who is preventing access may be found in contempt of court if they do not comply with the order.
It is important to remember that preventing a child from seeing their other parent without legal justification can have serious consequences, both for the child and the parent who is preventing access. If you are facing this situation in Alberta, it is important to seek legal advice from a lawyer who specializes in family law to understand your rights and obligations under Alberta law.
Written by Gary Kirk