Custody and Access

Women remain the primary caregivers of children. Women are more likely to abandon professional and economic benefits in order to facilitate that relationship. When they separate or divorce, women are far more likely to end up in poverty than their former male partners. Women are often victims of spousal violence or abuse. Yet the legal system often ignores this reality. And without access to Legal Aid, women are unable to assert the rights that they do have.

Custody and Access Law Reform 1997- 2002

The federal government began a review of custody and access law in 1997. A Special Joint Committee on Child Custody and Access released its report, “For the Sake of the Children”, in December 1998.

Since the release of the 1998 Report, NAWL and other women’s equality-seeking organizations have been actively involved in the legislative reform process.

Bill C-22, An Act to Amend the Divorce Act, was introduced in December 2002. In the end, Bill C-22 died on the Order Paper in November 2003 and has not been re-introduced since

NAWL’s Briefs on Custody and Access

On a practical level, the issue of custody and access is often closely linked to that of child support. The 40% rule has proven especially problematic.

The 40% rule states that the Federal Guidelines amount of support does not apply to any parent who has custody of the children at least 40% of the time. This has led to abuse by men who seek to evade their child support responsibilities by fighting for joint custody of their children. The “fathers’ rights” lobby has mobilized in favour of a presumption of shared parenting.

The 40% rule is just one of the many issues of concern with current custody and access law

Open Letters on Custody and Access

Jurisfemme Articles on Family Law