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Grounds for Sole Custody in Canada

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Family courts only grant sole or full custody when it seems best for children’s upbringing. Most often, the court prefers joint custody over sole custody. However, there will be some situations that can create reasons to file for sole custody.

This blog shows some grounds for sole custody in Canada and further details on full custody.

7 Grounds for Sole Custody in Canada

Some circumstances will make grounds for sole custody. These reasons are directly connected with the complete safety of your child. Outside those reasons, courts do not permit full custody.

Let’s take a look at the grounds and see when you can apply for this custody.


If a parent abuses a child mentally, physically, or sexually, they are clearly a danger to the kid. Not just the child, they sometimes can torture both the child and the partner. So, for both cases, you can seek full custody.


You might have seen your ex-partner neglect the child. In such a case, there is a great possibility of that parent continuing to neglect the child even after you get joint custody.

Some of the ways a parent can neglect a child may include the lack of:

  • Enough medical care
  • Dental care
  • Supervision
  • Food supply
  • Clothing
  • Shelter or other basic needs and
  • Safety for your kids’ wellbeing

Substance Abuse

An alcoholic or addicted parent is an outright threat to a child’s life. All things considered, an addicted parent is certainly not capable enough to take care of their kids. Moreover, while inebriated, the person will be more unstable.

Also, the mentality is already altered by the addiction. Concerning that, all these can result in domestic violence. Consequently, the children and their partner both are likely to be a victim of domestic violence. In such cases, the other partner can claim sole custody.

Mental Illness

Of course, it’s not anyone’s fault if they suffer from psychological issues. Regardless, you need to protect the child from a parent who is seriously unstable mentally.

Once again, a mentally unstable parent doesn’t qualify as the right guardian for a child. For instance, the other parent might be suicidal. And, you should leave your children with that parent as their behaviour is unpredictable.


Sometimes parents leave their children behind. This happens for various factors. For example, an alcoholic parent can abandon their children. Or maybe they are not into their partner anymore. So, they don’t care about the children as well. Consequently, they both abandon their partner and children.

If your partner has done anything like this, you can ask for sole custody. Also, if the parent has offered a little interest in the child’s life and failed to maintain contact with the family, you should apply for full custody. Otherwise, they might reappear years later and ask for their rights as a parent.


The other parent might be imprisoned for some reason. They could be convicted or not. But the situation with the jail makes them unable to offer the child shelter and other necessary care. And this is one of the times you can appeal for full custody.

In this circumstance, the court can issue the other parent’s visitation after they are released. However, that will depend on a few more factors because the parent might not be in the expected condition to get permission for the child’s visitation.

But you might be able to take the child to see the parent. On the other hand, the parent might already harm the children. In that case, you have no obligation to take the children to visit the other parent.


A parent might decide to move from the place they are living in. Especially, they could shift to a new country or state. In a situation like this, it’s not like—you must take the sole custody. It might be better for the child if one parent near them takes the entire responsibility.

What Does It Mean to Have Sole Custody?

Now you have the answer—what are the reasons to get full custody of my child. But you need to confirm that you know what having full custody means. You can develop a clear idea if you go through the list below.

  • Simply put, in this custody arrangement, one parent becomes responsible for caring and raising a child. Also, the parent with primary custody generally gets awarded this kind of child custody.
  • Suppose you are that parent who got the sole custody. According to the law, you have the right to make decisions for your child. Not just that, it’s your right. You are obliged to take the lead for your children.
  • The decisions include – education, medical care, religious beliefs, and moral development. And you make the decisions without consulting the other parent.
  • In full custody, the court might not permit the visitation access. And that will be determined by the best interest of the child. Even if the parent gets the visitation access, the duration is typically short.
  • The non-custodial parent might also have to provide monthly financial support for the child. Once again, they will be decided based on some factors.

How to Get Sole Custody in Canada?

Here are things that are required to get full legal custody:

  • You need to submit documents about your ability to raise a child alone. That includes bank account statements and, in some cases, financial statements.
  • You are not expected to lie about anything related to your capability or insist on invalid grounds to obtain this custody. Note that if you do so, that would be a violation of the laws. On top of that, you might get charged with contempt of court and some other prosecutions.
  • You should not criticize, insult, or ridicule your ex-partner under any circumstances. Otherwise, that will dismiss your request for full custody.

Final Notes

Grounds for full custody mainly depend on what is good for the child. It’s not about depriving the other parent. But some parents attempt to obtain sole custody because of their resentment toward the former partner.

Regarding that, the court will decide by considering the best interest of your child. The courtroom demeanour of you and your partner, parents’ lifestyle, and the documents provided. Hence, they will eventually fail even if someone tries to sway the court.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get sole custody in Canada?

Prepare your court application form, Get your application issued, Serve your application, Complete proof of service, File your court documents.

What is considered an unfit parent in Canada?

When a parent fails to give their children the right direction, care, or support through their actions, they are considered unsuitable parents under the law. Additionally, a parent will be ruled unsuitable if they have a history of abuse, neglect, or substance misuse.

On what grounds can a father get full custody?

There are typically two scenarios in which a father would file for custody: the first is when the parties have already separated and the father simply wants the children to be with him; the second is when the father has a sincere concern for the children's welfare while living with their mother.

What can be used against you in a custody battle?

Verbal or physical altercations are the reigning king of things that can be used against you in a custody dispute. It's highly appealing to engage in a verbal duel with your ex-spouse when tempers are frayed, so we decided to start with that trap.

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