A Divorce Lawyer’s Advice on Getting Sole Decision-Making Rights

A couple considering divorce

Coming to terms with a divorce is hard enough, but the proceedings can offer real emotional and legal obstacles. Family lawyers in Canada have seen that some divorces have been amicable, but if you hope to gain sole decision-making rights, you might need litigation lawyers ready for battle.

Our law firm is based in Mississauga but also serves several other locations like Brampton and Toronto. When it comes to protecting our clients’ interests, we’re willing to take matters all the way to the federal court of appeal because, at Nanda & Associate Lawyers, the client comes first.

The Implications of Sole Decision-Making Rights

A common misconception is that these rights entitle you to be the only guardian the child will reside with (physical custody). While that’s a decision you can make as the decision maker, the concept applies to all areas of your child’s life. Instead of drawing up a parenting plan with your spouse, you have the final say in matters including, but not limited to, the following:


You will become the only guardian able to approve and request medical procedures and treatments. This means that if your child is prescribed a medication, then deciding for or against it is your decision. Of course, you can consult others, but the final decision will be yours.


You’ll decide where your child studies (while they’re a minor) and will be the only one that the school will need a sign-off from at any point. This also means you can choose which after-school activities and social clubs they’ll participate in.

Religious Practices

Everyone raises their children according to their beliefs, and you’ll be able to do the same. You’ll decide whether your children should or shouldn’t partake in festivals and practices or be exposed to other religions. Of course, this is with respect to the fact that your child might assert contradictory views, but the legal right lies with you.

The Alternatives

If you don’t get sole decision-making rights, then you’ll get joint rights. This means that every major decision will have to be agreed upon by you and your spouse, and if you make moves without their approval, they might be able to hire a family lawyer to pursue legal action against you.

An adult hand touching a baby's hand

In a court, it won’t go in your favour that you violated the standing agreement, which is why if you do feel you need to revise your status after proceedings, then you should get in touch with a professional. You might be able to contest the original decision on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, but you must show cause. For example, if your ex-spouse has committed a crime and is facing deportation from Canada, then revising the agreement might be in the child’s best interest.

Then again, they don’t have to have done something wrong; they may simply be unable to participate in larger decisions. If they’re incapacitated by a long-term disability, then lawyers could make a case for you based on the changed circumstances.

However, it’s worth remembering that, where possible having both parents be as involved as possible has shown to be most conducive to a healthy environment for children.

If both cases seem too extreme, there’s also the option of custom court-mandated parallel decision-making. A divorce lawyer can help you negotiate this with the court, and they’ll break up the responsibilities and distribute them between both parties. For example, one spouse might hold all healthcare decisions, and the other will have the education.

When choosing the right course, make sure you think long-term because unless circumstances change significantly, they’ll be in place until all children are of age. Consider how it might affect the children’s relationship with the other parent and whether you want to bear the burden of every major decision. Depending on how old children are, they need things to be explained to them, or they’ll draw their own conclusions.

A man carrying a baby

They might harbour some resentment later in life if they think that your choices were detrimental to them, and it might strain your relationship.

How is the Decision Made?

Both parties will make a decision, and their law firm of choice will build a case to support it, but ultimately, the judge will rule as they see fit. They’ll consider the following factors:

  • The child’s emotional attachmentto each parent
  • Who the child prefers as a guardian
  • How stable the child’s care and upbringing has been previously, and the role each parent played
  • Whether each party has taken the initiative of drawing up a plan and proposing their aims and goals
  • The quality of said plans
  • Each party’s capability to provide a safe and stable household for the child
  • Each party’s familial relationship with the child

The judge is unlikely to grant sole decision-making rights to each party unless it can be shown that either party poses a threat to the child. If there’s a history of domestic abuse, drug abuse, or financial problems, you should inform the divorce lawyer so they can collect the appropriate evidence to strengthen your case.

Your partner’s health and priorities are also a consideration if it hinders their ability to parent. If their role will comprise sorting through caregiver applications to manage the child, while the other parent can provide hands-on care without compromising their career, the latter is a better outcome in the eyes of the law.

 Family after a joint divorce

You should also be upfront with your legal counsel if there’s a live-in partner in the picture, as their presence might change things.

When To Find A Law Firm

As soon as you come to a decision, you should get in touch with a lawyer because the hiring process might take some time. You must find a legal team you feel comfortable with because any barriers or discomfort might prevent open communication. Divorce lawyers are obligated to delve into their clients’ personal lives to be prepared, and given how personal a marriage and family law is, any withheld information will hurt your case.

Even a language barrier can become an information barrier, as not everything translates. Furthermore, speaking to someone in your first language is likely to help you disclose things. If it ever seems like you’ve misrepresented facts to the court, even if by accident, your credibility will become shaky.

To make the most of your first appointment, carry any relevant paperwork, and be ready to answer questions that might feel invasive. Any legal counsel is prohibited from sharing anything you disclose.

Even if you choose to proceed with a different firm, your privacy will be protected. You’ll also have to ensure that you and your spouse don’t try to hire from the same firm, as that would create a conflict of interest. If you do, it’ll work on a first-come, first-served basis, so whoever shows up second will be turned away.

So, while it’s a decision to be made with much care, it’s also not one to delay.

Scrabble tiles spelling law

At Nanda & Associate Lawyers, our diverse team is fluent in over a dozen languages, which makes it far easier for us to connect with clients and make them comfortable. Since we also work with refugee claim holders and immigration law. As with family law, our immigration lawyers hold themselves to a high standard of legal practice and recognize client needs.

Every divorce or separation is different, which is why we take time to get to know who our client is and how we can help them find positive legal solutions. In some cases, an amicable divorce is the best thing for a family, and we work to keep things as friction-free as possible. The last thing we want is for our clients to feel pressured to wrap things up sooner at the cost of a fair outcome.

To get in touch with our team, which includes corporate lawyers and personal injury lawyers, click here to book a consultation.

Disclaimer: This article is only intended for educational purposes and shouldn’t be used as a substitute for legal advice.


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