Fathers' Rights in Ontario

By Kristen Marquette

me and dad image by Renata Osinska from Fotolia.com

In Ontario, there is no such thing as a father's right or a mother's right to a child. Custody is determined solely by the best interest of the child. After a divorce or separation, the court will grant custody of the children. Sole custody means that only one person makes decisions for the child and joint custody means that both parents have equal rights in the child's life, while split custody means that the mother may receive custody of one child while the father has custody of another. Shared custody means that the parents not only have joint custody, but that the child spends an equal amount of time with both.

Best Interest of the Child

The best interest of a child is not based on the premise that boys should be with their father or that girls and small children should be with their mothers. Each case is treated independently, though certain factors are taken into consideration when assessing the living arrangement best for the child and his needs: the love and connection between the child and the mother; the love and connection between the child and the father; the capability and readiness of each parent to foster the child's relationship with the other parent; and the permanence of the family situation inside each home.

Rules of Child Support

In a divorce or separation involving a child, child support will be mandated by the court. The person, father or mother, who pays the child support does not have control of how that money is spent since the court has already granted the receiver the right to look after the child's needs. Neither the father nor the mother can withhold child support payments if the custodial parents refuses visitation rights. Both issues must be resolved in court. Even if the parents of the child were never married, the noncustodial parent must still pay child support since the money is for the child, not the parent. The higher income does not determine who pays child support, so even if the custodial parent earns more money than the noncustodial parent, that parent must still pay child support. The reasoning behind this is that it is a parent's responsibility to help his child financially.


In Ontario, the courts generally accept that young children need more consistent and frequent contact with the noncustodial parent than older children do. For this reason, there is no set visitation schedule for the duration of the child's life. The schedule will change over time and in reference to the best interest and needs of the child. If the noncustodial parent is seen to be a danger to the child for any reason, supervised visits can be arranged. This means a social worker supervises the meeting to ensure the child's safety.