See note 1
Since 1968, more than 1 million Canadian children have been affected by the divorce of their parents. More than 100,000 of these children have witnessed the breakdown of a second long-term relationship of their custodial parent.
Divorced mothers and their children have a higher risk of living in poverty. Children who are raised in poverty by a single parent often encounter nutritional, health, and educational problems that significantly affect their adult lives.
Less than 4 percent of all divorce proceedings result in full-blown contested trials and, of these, very few involve disputes concerning the children. Less than 1 percent of contested divorce cases are confined to custody and access disputes.
Contested custody litigation is often a reflection of continued and unresolved personal hostility between the spouses. Custody litigation may also disguise an issue relating to money and property, rather than the children. A custodial parent may, for example, obtain an order for exclusive possession of the matrimonial home or an order for spousal support that would be unavailable if custody were denied to that parent. Or a non-custodial parent may seek an order for shared parenting in order to reduce the amount of child support payable.
A custodial parent has the authority to make decisions that affect the growth and development of a child2but is expected to exercise that authority
in the best interests of the child. Where the parents disagree, either of them may institute legal proceedings...