How To Get Full Custody Of Your Child In BC? - Zukerman Law

Gaining Full Custody of Your Child: A Guide for Parents in BC

Child custody arrangements are often the most emotionally charged aspect of a separation or divorce. While shared custody is frequently the ideal scenario, there are situations where pursuing full custody may be in your child’s best interests. This blog post is designed to be a resource for parents in British Columbia navigating the complexities of seeking full custody.
Whether you’re actively considering full custody or simply seeking information, gaining a clear understanding of the process empowers you to make informed decisions for your child’s future. So, let’s embark on this journey together and explore the essential aspects of gaining full custody of your child in British Columbia.

The Path to Full Custody: Legal Steps and Building a Strong Case

The Path to Full Custody: Legal Steps and Building a Strong Case

Securing full custody of your child in British Columbia involves following a specific legal process and demonstrating that this arrangement serves your child’s best interests. Here’s a breakdown of the crucial steps involved:

  • Initiating the Sole Custody Application: The first step is formally requesting sole custody from the court. This application declares your intention to be the sole decision-maker regarding your child’s upbringing.
  • Building a Compelling Case: Simply requesting full custody isn’t enough. You’ll need to present evidence that convinces the court that this arrangement is in your child’s best interest. This evidence can include factors such as:
    • Your Fitness as a Parent: Demonstrate your ability to provide your child a safe, nurturing, and stable environment.
    • Your Role as Primary Caregiver: This strengthens your case if you’ve historically been the primary caregiver.
    • The Other Parent’s Capacity for Shared Custody: Evidence that the other parent is unfit or unable to share custody appropriately can be considered.
  • Understanding the Legal Landscape: The legal process for obtaining full custody can be complex. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, and the timing of your application can depend on your specific circumstances.
  • Importance of Legal Representation: Given the intricacies of family law, consulting with a qualified BC family lawyer is highly recommended. They can guide you through the legal process, explain your rights, and ensure your case adheres to the legal standards for obtaining full custody.
How to File for Child Custody in BC

How to File for Child Custody in BC

Taking the first step towards a child custody arrangement in British Columbia can feel daunting. However, the process can be navigated more effectively by understanding the key steps involved. Here’s a breakdown to guide you:

Choosing the Right Court: BC offers two primary court options for child custody matters: Provincial Court and Supreme Court. The appropriate court depends on the specific type of order you’re seeking. For instance, parenting arrangements and guardianship orders are typically handled in Provincial Court. Supreme Court is more common for complex cases or those involving significant assets.

  1. Completing the Necessary Forms: Each court has its own set of forms relevant to child custody applications. In Provincial Court, you’ll act as the applicant, while the other parent is the respondent. Supreme Court uses the terms “claimant” and “respondent.” Accuracy is important. Ensure all forms are completed thoroughly and include all required information.
  2. Finalizing Your Paperwork: Depending on your location, there may be additional steps. For example, some areas like Surrey or Victoria require an Electronic Filing Statement alongside your forms. Always double-check the specific requirements for the court where you’re filing.
  3. Submitting Your Application: Once your paperwork is complete, it’s time to file it with the chosen court. You can usually file in person at the designated courthouse location. Be prepared to pay the associated fees, which vary depending on the court and the type of application.
  4. Serving the Other Parent: An essential step is ensuring the other parent receives your child custody application. This legal process, known as service, informs them of the court proceedings and the orders you’re requesting. Proper service is necessary for the case to advance smoothly.

Following these steps empowers you to initiate the child custody filing process in BC. Remember, this is just a general guide, and the specifics may vary depending on your situation.

When to Consider Sole Custody in BC: Timing Your Application Strategically

When to Consider Sole Custody in BC: Timing Your Application Strategically

While the blog has focused on the legal process of obtaining full custody (sole custody) in BC, equally important is understanding the appropriate timing for such an application. Here, we’ll explore some critical scenarios that might prompt you to consider seeking sole custody:

  • Abandonment at the Time of Separation: If the other parent abruptly leaves the home and abandons all parental responsibilities, this can be grounds for immediate action. In such situations, you can apply to the BC Supreme Court or Provincial Court for a sole custody order. This order would grant you decision-making authority regarding the children’s upbringing and establish their primary residence with you.
  • Shared Custody Breakdown: Existing shared custody arrangements may break down due to various factors. Perhaps one parent develops a substance abuse problem, exhibits abusive behavior, or attempts to alienate the children from you. Pursuing sole custody may be necessary if shared parenting becomes impossible or detrimental to the children’s well-being.
  • Custody Disputes from Separation: Disagreements about child custody arrangements can arise right from the outset of separation. While sole custody may be your ultimate goal, a trial may be required to determine whether it’s in the children’s best interests. In these situations, you can explore the option of requesting an interim (temporary) custody order pending the court’s final decision. This temporary arrangement helps maintain stability for the children while the legal process unfolds.
Building a Strong Case for Sole Custody

Building a Strong Case for Sole Custody

While the legal process for obtaining sole custody in British Columbia is outlined in previous sections, establishing a convincing case hinges on proving one crucial element: that sole custody serves the child’s best interests. The court will meticulously evaluate all evidence presented, prioritizing the child’s well-being above all other considerations. Here, we delve into the key factors that influence the court’s decision-making process:

  • Fitness as a Parent: The court will comprehensively assess your ability to provide a safe, nurturing, and stable environment for your child. This evaluation encompasses factors such as your financial stability, living situation, and capacity to meet your child’s physical and emotional needs. Documentation supporting these aspects strengthens your position.
  • Primary Caregiver Status: Evidence establishing your historical role as the primary caregiver for your child can significantly bolster your case. School records, daycare arrangements, and medical documentation demonstrating your consistent involvement in your child’s upbringing can be highly persuasive.
  • The Other Parent’s Capacity for Custody: If the other parent struggles with substance abuse, exhibits abusive behavior, or has a documented history of neglecting their parental responsibilities, presenting such evidence can be crucial. The court will consider the other parent’s ability provide your child a safe and healthy environment.
  • The Child’s Wishes (For Children Over 12): While not the sole determining factor, the court will consider the expressed wishes of children over the age of 12. However, the court will also weigh these wishes against the child’s overall best interests.
  • Stability and Routine: The court prioritizes arrangements that promote stability and routine in a child’s life. If shared custody disrupts their well-being or creates an unstable environment, sole custody might be considered. Evidence supporting this, such as documented disruptions caused by shared custody, can be helpful.
  • Impracticality of Shared Custody: In some cases, geographical distance or the parents’ inability to co-parent effectively can render shared custody impractical. Evidence supporting this, such as relocation plans or documented communication difficulties between the parents, can be valuable to the court.
Zukerman Law: Your Trusted Partner in BC Child Custody Matters

Zukerman Law: Your Trusted Partner in BC Child Custody Matters

At Zukerman Law, we understand the profound emotional challenges associated with child custody disputes. Our team of compassionate and highly experienced BC family lawyers can provide invaluable legal counsel throughout the process of seeking full custody. We will work tirelessly to build a strong case that prioritizes your child’s well-being and advocate for an outcome that serves their best interests. Contact Zukerman Law today to schedule a consultation and discuss your options. We are here to support you on this journey.


Stuart Zukerman

Stuart Zukerman, a graduate of the University of British Columbia, has over 32 years of experience in litigation with a focus on Family Law, Personal Injury, Wrongful Dismissal claims, and Collaborative Divorce & Mediation. He has extensive trial experience in divorce, child custody, spousal support, asset division, and ICBC injury claims. As an accredited Family Law Mediator, he helps resolve disputes without court intervention. Stuart has also authored papers on family law and lectured at CLE courses.