Custody, Access and Parenting

At MDW Law in Halifax, our family law lawyers help separating parents develop a clear plan outlining where their children will live and how decisions will be made.


Custody agreements specify how separated parents will make major decisions regarding their children. Major decisions include issues like medical care, education and religion.

The most common type of custody in Nova Scotia is joint custody. Joint custody means that parents must consult each other before making major decisions and reach some form of consensus. In some cases, one parent is granted sole custody. When this occurs, that parent is entitled to make decisions relating to the child or children. Sometimes that parent is required to consult with the other parent prior to making decisions.

Access/Parenting Time

Separate from the question of custody is the question of the parenting schedule. Sometimes one parent has primary care of the children, and the other parent has parenting time or access with the children. This access can follow a specific schedule or be more flexible. In other cases, the parents will have equal time with the children, which is called shared parenting.

In many cases, parents will have special access schedules for important holidays like Christmas, March Break and summer vacation. Parenting plans may also include other co-parenting issues, such as how time will be spent with grandparents or extended family members, international travel, and attendance at events and extracurricular activities.

In rare circumstances, supervised access may be appropriate. Supervised access means that a third party is present while a parent shares time with his or her child. This is most often seen when a parent may pose a risk to a child or has been absent from a child’s life for an extended period of time. This is a complex area of the law, and must be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.   

Determining child custody and a parenting schedule can be the most challenging and emotionally difficult aspect of a separation or divorce. The experienced family law lawyers at MDW Law in Halifax – Bedford will help you establish a custody and parenting plan that works for your family. Our family lawyers are skilled at negotiating creative solutions that help meet the needs of both parents and their children.

To get you started, the Department of Justice has published a Guide called “Making Plans: A guide to parenting arrangements after separation or divorce – How to put your children first”. You can access this text by clicking here